Communities Minister sets out priorities for sector
Speaking after NICVA staff outlined key findings from the report the Minister said “I welcome this important piece of research. In these challenging times it is important for those of us in Government to clearly understand the significant contribution and opportunities of the voluntary and community sector."
“I see an important part of my Ministerial role as ‘championing’ the good work being taken forward by the sector across the Executive. Working collaboratively to help realise the desired outcomes within the Programme for Government over the period 2017 to 2021 will make Northern Ireland a better place to live, work and visit. Strengthening our communities and supporting the diversity of talent, skills and culture they nurture will also help to make Northern Ireland an attractive place to invest.”
The Minister continued: “Volunteering in Northern Ireland as clearly evidenced in the ‘State of the Sector’ report is vitally important within our communities. Volunteers give hundreds of thousands of hours of their free time every year. I believe it is essential that we continue to nurture the capacity and capability that exists, making it easier for people to donate their time and skills towards helping activities that will benefit local communities and wider society.”
I would like to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by the voluntary, community and advice sectors to our society and hope that I have reassured the sector of my commitment in continuing to work in partnership with them to help those most in need.”
Following his speech the Minister took questions from a range of voluntary and community sector activists who quizzed him on funding for community development, red tape and bureaucracy, the impact of Brexit on the sector, the importance of faith based community work, support for advice and information for refugees and asylum seekers, the importance of volunteering and the role of the voluntary and community sector in delivering the Programme for Government.
Speaking after the event Marie Cavanagh, Chair of NICVA said ‘we were delighted the Minister so readily accepted our invitation to talk to the sector. It was encouraging that he reflected on the importance of his role as lead Minister for the sector and stressed the key role VCSE organisations will have in delivering the new Programme for Government.”
The event ended with a pop up concert from the Ulster Orchestra who were attempting to set a new record by playing 50 concerts in one day to mark their 50th anniversary.