A buzz in East Belfast

30 Apr 2018 Helen McLaughlin    Last updated: 1 May 2018

There was great excitement in the air as voluntary and community organisations in East Belfast attended the East Belfast Community Capacity and Leadership Programme’s first networking event on Tuesday 24 April.

The event saw 57 individuals from 35 groups and organisations across East Belfast meet at East Belfast Network Centre, with many groups setting up stands to let others know about their work in the area.

The East Belfast Community Capacity and Leadership Programme is funded by the Northern Ireland Executive’s Social Investment Fund under the Delivering Social Change Framework and aims to work with community groups and individuals in East Belfast to improve their capacity and leadership.

The programme helps groups to identify solutions to address the challenges and issues they face in their local communities and to improve leadership skills and confidence and provide the chance to work together and network with others. It is managed by the East Belfast Community Development Agency, and delivered by a partnership of NICVA, Interaction Institute, TIDES Training and Youth Action.

The 24 April event – the first of three in the programme – provided participants with the opportunity to meet and discuss community issues with people from other groups and organisations in East Belfast with similar issues, in roundtable discussion groups.


They also heard inspiring inputs from Brendan Patterson from Focus on Family and the Cornfield Project in Coleraine, and from Tracey Wilson of East Belfast Sure Start. Brendan gave an excellent account of the challenges and opportunities of partnership working in an engaging and entertaining presentation.

Tracey talked about the East Belfast programme and the difference it had made to her organisation. She said: "This programme has been a gift to our organisation. We took part in a range of training courses such as: Facilitative Leadership, Project Planning, Social Media and Team Building. We also benefited from support in governance and with our appraisal system.  The impact on our staff and organisation has been amazing. People have grown and gained skills. We have learned practical tools and it has given us confidence. The programme has helped us to see what we are good at and what needs to be improved, as well as bringing us together as a team. My plea is that if you haven't done anything yet - do something, keep using the programme. Thanks as well to the Executive Office that fund the programme and to EBCDA".

And of course, we had some fun with a live networking exercise!

What participants said about the event

“Lots of fantastic ideas from group workshops that we will go on to explore. Well done! Inspiring!”

“The informal atmosphere allowed for people to make new connections which weren’t forced.”

“Connected with a few like-minded people – great!”

“Thank-you, excellent event, learnt a lot”.

What can groups get from the East Belfast Community Capacity and Leadership Programme?

The programme supports leadership by offering a wide range of interventions and support to suits different kinds of groups, from small volunteer-led groups to partnership organisations running many projects and services, with staff teams in place. The programme offers:

  • Training tailored for your group: trainers can work with groups at a time and place of their choosing, on a topic of their choosing (e.g. committee roles, better meetings, communication skills, team building, strategic and operational planning, managing money, fundraising, recruiting and managing volunteers, managing diversity, conflict management and much more.
  • Formal accredited training: the programme offers courses accredited by ILM, OCN and TQUK – you can see the list of accredited courses at www.nicva.org/eastbelfast.
  • Governance support: the programme helps groups to keep themselves right on governance and identify strengths to build on and areas for improvement.
  • Mentoring support for leaders: The programme provides one-to-one support for leaders so that they can explore their leadership with an external mentor.
  • Networking events: the programme includes networking events where groups come together and meet other groups dealing with similar issues and challenges.
  • Qualifications in youth work: Youth Action provides accredited training for young people in Youth Work Practice.

Because the programme is funded by the Northern Ireland Executive’s Social Investment Fund under the Delivering Social Change Framework, there is no cost to participating groups.

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