NICVA hosts Conversation Zone at the Alliance Party Conference 2020

18 Mar 2020 Kathy Maguire    Last updated: 25 Mar 2020

Conversation Zone Alliance Party Conference

NICVAs Conversation Zone - Real Engagement on the Issues that Matter

On Saturday 7th March 2020, NICVA returned to the Alliance Party Conference at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast to host our first Conversation Zone since restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Conversation Zone is a chance for voluntary and community organisations to meet with key party members and representatives and to raise those issues that are important to them and the people they work with.

At this Conversation Zone event we hosted discussions on a number of key themes including Health and Social Care, Communities and Education,Children and Young People.

We were delighted to kick the Conversation Zone off with a packed session on Health, where we were joined by Alliance Party Spokesperson on Health and Chair of the NI Assembly Committee on Health, Paula Bradshaw, MLA. Sector representatives took this opportunity to highlight and engage in discussion with Paula on a broad range of issues including efforts to address health inequalities;support for carers; mental health provision; tackling loneliness in our communities; the health transformation agenda and challenges for the provision of social care.

For our next session on the theme of Communities we were joined by Kellie Armstrong, MLA,  Alliance Party spokesperson on Communities and the Deputy Chairperson of the NI Assembly Committee on Communities. Kellie took questions and engaged in discussion on a broad range of issues including the Welfare Reform agenda; housing issues including the provision of social housing; homelessness; community safety issues and the Supporting People funding programme.

Chris Lyttle MLA, party spokesperson on Education and Chair of the NI Assembly Committee on Education joined us for the final session of the day on the theme of Education, Children and Young People.  The new Programme for Government; shared education; primary school aged testing; childcare and early years provision; tackling educational disadvantage and the needs of more marginalised groups; and special educational needs provision are a highlight of the diverse range of issues explored.

Each of the party representatives acknowledged the vital role and contribution of the VCSE sector in addressing some of our communites key issues and challenges; the need for both government and political representatives to meaningfully engage and work in partnership with the sector and expressed their commitment and desire to actively engage with sector organisations at both a community and government level.

We were delighted for the opportunity to once again host our Conversation Zone at the Alliance Party Conference and wish to thank all those in the Alliance Party who assisted with the organisation and the MLA’s who participated so enthusiastically in our panel sessions. We would also like to thank everyone from the sector who came along to make it such an interesting and engaging event.'s picture
by Kathy Maguire

Policy Development Officer

[email protected]

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