Joint Forum meeting update

5 Jun 2013     Last updated: 8 Oct 2014

A meeting of the Joint Government/Voluntary and Community Sector Forum was held in NICVA on 3 May 2013. The meeting was attended by representatives from voluntary and community organisations, government departments and councils.

Key points from the meeting Commitment action teams (CAT) – updates


The report from the Bureaucracy Team has been signed off by the Project Board. The report makes nineteen recommendations, some of which can be implemented quite easily. Pilot exercises for others are likely to commence over the next few months. The work of this team concludes with the publication of the report and new teams will be set up to work on the recommendations.

Outcome-focused approach to funding

This team has linked with Building Change Trust (BCT) to develop a Northern Ireland version of the Inspiring Impact Programme, a UK-wide initiative aimed at making impact measurement the norm across government and the voluntary and community sector. The team will reconvene in the autumn to consider BCT’s findings when it reports later this year.

Influence and examine impact and of Government policy

Further work on a guide is still under consideration. The team wants to consider how the voluntary and community sector can be more involved in the process and to co-ordinate with other teams in the development of joint training courses with CAL. Links have been established with the Policy Champions Network, a group chaired by the Department for Social Development Permanent Secretary to look at policy development, and this will be fed back through the Joint Chairs. The team will be monitoring the outcomes of the pilot evaluation of the compliance tool for lesson learned.

Structural reform

The Structural reform team reported completion of two of its assigned tasks: the review of the terms of reference and membership of the Joint Forum, and development of a Compliance Tool. A Compliance Tool has been developed and the Joint Forum has agreed to the set up of a new team to pilot the tool. Volunteers are required for the new team.

The third task, to present an annual report to the Northern Ireland Assembly, will continue to be prepared by Voluntary and Community Unit (VCU) staff.

Concordat annual report

Members were advised that the main body of the report consists of the progress made by the CATs and an update on relevant recommendations from the PAC. In view of the progress made by the CATs members also agreed to recommend that the Minister presents the report to the Northern Ireland Assembly as an oral statement.

Interaction with other forums

There was discussion over the merits of inviting representatives from similar-interest organisations, such as the Faith Forum and the Volunteering Steering Group. Members agreed in principle to the Joint Forum establishing networks with organisations with a similar remit and arranging an exchange of representatives at meetings. Local Government reform presentation and reflections from the voluntary sector< Linda Barlow, Jodie Smith and Catherine McKinney from Department of the Environment delivered a presentation on the Local Government Reform Programme which is due to be implemented from 1 April 2015. They provided an overview of the benefits, progress and milestones, and the process of engagement with communities and the role of the voluntary and community sector in achieving citizen-focused outcomes.

Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA, responded with the perspective of the voluntary and community sector.

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