Celebrating East Belfast’s Communities in Transition: Building Capacity Programme

14 Jun 2021 Susan Glass    Last updated: 14 Jun 2021

On Thursday 10 June, Sarah Travers hosted an event in Strand Arts Centre with NICVA and EBCDA, celebrating the participation and achievements of the Communities in Transition: Building Capacity Programme in east Belfast.

The event saw the launch of a community development toolkit for The Mount and Ballymacarrett, the premiere of two films, and showcased the many achievements of participants in the programme. 

A word of thanks and congratulations from Funders

Communities in Transition is a project funded by the Executive Office and managed through Cooperation Ireland. The Building Capacity project in east Belfast has been delivered by Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) with their partners East Belfast Community Development Agency (EBCDA). Since March 2020, the project has supported the development of community and voluntary sector capacity in The Mount and Ballymacarrett areas of east Belfast.

While representatives from the Executive Office and Cooperation Ireland were unable to attend due to Covid restrictions, they did send pre-recorded messages of congratulations and good luck, which were shared at the event.  On behalf of the Executive Office Junior Ministers Gordon Lyons and Declan Kearney thanked NICVA for the opportunity to address the event, and acknowledged the work of the project and all the participants during what has been a very challenging year, while Lucy Geddes, Programme Manager for Cooperation Ireland echoed their thanks and congratulations for all the organisations' and participants' achievements:

“I am encouraged to hear about the positive impact that these efforts are having in the local community and that those taking part have been given the support that they need to gain important skills.”

Junior Minister Gordon Lyons

"Building strong, resilient, empowered communities is highly effective in increasing the voices of people who want to effect change and bring influence to bear in a positive and lawful way.”

Junior Minister Declan Kearney

"This project has really invested in the development of community workers and volunteers committed to East Belfast, increasing their capacity to deliver for their area and connecting them with others who can help."

Lucy Geddes, Cooperation Ireland 

Celebrating Success and Achievements

Since the start of the project Communities in Transition has engaged with over 25 groups across The Mount and Ballymacarrett areas of east Belfast, including more than 150 individual Staff, Volunteers, Board members and Trustees, who have participated in almost 120 training programmes and events, developing new skills that they can apply in their workplace, for the benefit of their groups and communities.   Training has included First Aid and Safeguarding, a range of ILM courses from Level One to Level Seven, and governance and volunteer advice. 

Two collaborative civic engagement projects were developed with EastSide Partnership – advocacy work with The Scaffolding Project and NICVA Policy Team, and the Connswater Greenway Legacy Project.  Organisations who have benefited include the staff and volunteer players at Street Soccer NI, as well as a training programme developed by Youth Action NI for young women in Charter NI's Diamond Project, and a Youth Mentoring programme in collaboration with EBCDA and east Belfast’s Youth Practitioner’s Forum.  Speaking at the event, Project Coordinator for NICVA, Susan Glass said:

Today is about celebrating the success of the groups who have participated and achieved so much throughout the programme, during what has been a very difficult year.  We have just premiered a short celebration film that highlights some of these successes and it is great to hear the feedback from our participants on how the programme has positively impacted their work.”

Partnership with EBCDA and the launch of a Community Development Support Toolkit

Working in partnership with EBCDA, NICVA developed a programme for east Belfast that focused on building the capacity of community-based organisations and was also able to respond to the needs of the local area.  This included offering a range of accredited training opportunities through a bursary scheme, comprehensive one-to-one governance and volunteer management support for groups, coaching and mentoring for individuals and access to NICVA’s emergency support services and webinars. 

EBCDA have also been able to develop a Coaching Framework for east Belfast - you can read more about this and hear from Linda Armitage, EBCDA's Health Development Director, talking about how you can access this new free service by clicking here.

As part of the project, EBCDA developed a Community Development Support Toolkit, designed around the themes of positive behavioural change.  The Toolkit contains advice and guidance on a range of key topics including, good governance, writing project proposals, collaborating with others, managing a crisis, managing and developing volunteers and much more. Michael Briggs, Executive Director for EBCDA said:

“Our Goal is simple. We want the Mount and Ballymacarrett areas of east Belfast to become better places to live. As part of the Communities in Transition Capacity Building Programme for these areas we want to support positive and behavioural change”

You can find out more about the Toolkit from Michael Briggs by clicking here

NICVA Investing in Communities

Capacity building invests in the development of an organisation and its staff and volunteers, enabling organisations to be more effective in delivering their overall services with their communites.  The CiT programme has supported the leadership and management of staff and volunteers, supported the legal and regulatory requirements of groups (including charity law, equality law, GDPR, Cyber Security and company law where appropriate), as well as providing reassurance to funders and supporters that an organisation is well governed. This investment strengthens individuals in their roles and gives organisations greater confidence to deliver their services within their communities.  Talking to Sarah Travers Úna McKernan Deputy Director for NICVA said:

“We at NICVA like to take a whole organisation approach to capacity building; if you are investing in different levels, you are strengthening the organisation to enable them to deliver better services and ultimately that is what it is all about – helping them to do the right thing. And today we have seen the evidence of the benefits to these organisations and individuals in their roles within the community and we are so delighted to be able to play our part through this programme.

Thanks, and acknowledgements

NICVA would like to thank everyone who participated in the programme and took part in the celebration event, particularly our host Sarah Travers, MacAV for the event production, the staff of the Strand Arts Centre, and BEAM Creative Media and BNL Productions for the films.

Further Information

If you missed our Celebration Event you can watch it on our Facebook page, click here.

To watch our Celebration Film, click here

For further information on the EastSide Greenway Legacy Project and to watch their short film, click here

To watch Street Soccer NI’s promotional video, click here

To hear more from The Diamond Project, click here

For further information on NICVA’s Communities in Transition: Building Capacity programme in east Belfast please contact Susan Glass [email protected] or NICVA’s Comms Officer Shauna O’Neill [email protected]

Communities in Transition is a project funded by the Executive Office and managed through Cooperation Ireland. The Building Capacity project in east Belfast has been delivered by Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action with their partners East Belfast Community Development Agency. Since March 2020, the project has supported the development of community and voluntary sector capacity in The Mount and Ballymacarrett areas of east Belfast.




susan.glass@nicva.org's picture
by Susan Glass

Capacity Building Programme Coordinator

[email protected]

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