How we made the 2016 NICVA manifesto

Intense discussions at the ageing policy hack

Writing a manifesto for a representative body is no small task. For the NICVA Public Affairs Team the process towards the drafting of our 2016 Manifesto began with our Policy Reboot. 

The Policy Reboot saw the introduction of Policy Hacks – a new, interactive, democratic and innovative way of reaching policy asks across a range of topics. We held the first ‘hack’ in Farset Labs in March of 2015 discussing in-work poverty with 22 interested people from our sector, government and the private sector. There were eight hacks in total on: 

  • In-work poverty
  • Homelessness and Housing
  • The Fiscal Impact of an Ageing Population
  • Justice and Recidivism
  • Obesity
  • Sexual Health and Relationship
  • Alcohol and Addiction
  • Adult Learning

Across the hacks 153 people from 112 organisations were involved in the discussions and the infamous iced finger breakfasts, along with countless more online through social media engagement. We eventually reached agreement, via an incredibly democratic voting process, on 94 recommendations many of which have made it into the final policy manifesto.

With the Policy Reboot also came the re-organisation of our old Policy Fora into Departmental Monitoring Groups (DMGs)  now aligned with each of the government departments/committees. The Chairs of the newly formed groups first met in May 2015. At a number of subsequent meetings of the DMGs discussions around policy asks were held. Currently we have 45 member organisations signed up to one or more of our DMGs - NICVA members can register for them here.

At our Programme for Government (PfG) Conference in September 83 people from 77 organisations attended to hear about the process through which the 2016 PfG will be put together, along with details of the upcoming Departmental Restructure. The second half of the conference took the form of a ‘mini-hack’ where opinions were sought on potential reforms to the Assembly and the Executive. These form the basis of the third section of our manifesto – “effective government and strong civil society.”

Finally we collected the asks of our sector through five Manifesto Engagement Meetings in November with the Alliance Party, DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP and UUP. 64 NICVA Members from 43 member organisations attended these events.

Of course before all the events the NICVA Centre for Economic Empowerment (CEE) was undertaking research on a range of issues, the outcome of which form the basis of many of our manifesto asks. CEE has produced 12 reports so far on:

Finally the Policy Team took all of these asks away to the Open University for a three day long ‘manifesto sprint’ where each ask was researched and carefully honed into the final product as it appears in the manifesto.  

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