NICVA’s Policy and Public Affairs Quarterly Update

Below is a summary of the most recent activities of NICVA's Policy and Public Affairs team from April-June 2022.

‘iCommunity’ holds in-depth discussions at five workshops on all-Island collaboration to meet the big challenges of our time.

Following initial introductory online events during February and March, the joint NICVA/The Wheel ‘iCommunity’ project to promote all-island sector collaboration on key shared challenges, held five hybrid workshops in Dublin and Belfast between April and June.  At these events, sector organisations explore the challenges and opportunities which exist to collaborate to tackle shared challenges of - Rural connectivity and sustainability, Developing the Island Economy/Social Enterprise, Delivering a sustainable, de-carbonized and biodiverse island, Digital connectivity and inclusion, and Post-Covid recovery.

Working with Government to Encourage the Best Possible Funding Relationships

Over the last quarter, NICVA’s Head of Policy & Public Affairs, Geoff Nuttall has been chairing a “Funding Relationship’ Task and Finish sub-group of voluntary/community sector and government representatives from the Government/Voluntary Sector Joint Forum. The group is gathering information and sharing experiences and perspectives as funder and funded, of the different types of funding relationships and models that exist between government and voluntary and community sector. Drawing on previous research in this area and on newly gathered information, the group will develop recommendations for developing best practice principles in government funding of voluntary/community organisations.

Supporting the work of the Joint Government and Voluntary Sector Forum

During this period, the PPA Team continued to support the work of the Joint Government and Voluntary Sector Forum (Joint Forum) and its Voluntary and Community Sector panel (VCS Panel). This included a meeting of the full Joint Forum meeting held on 13 April 2022, where representatives came together for a full day in- person workshop to agree and finalise a future development path for the Joint Forum as we prepare for a new political mandate. In addition, there were a number of Joint Chairs meetings held to plan and prepare for this and future Joint Forum activities and developments. In this quarter alongside JF panel representatives and our DfC colleagues as Joint Secretariat to the Forum, we also participated in a range of wider meetings linked to the Forums ongoing development and workplan.

As detailed earlier, acting as Chair and Secretariat to the Funding Relationship’ Task and Finish sub-group of the Government/Voluntary Sector Joint Forum we continue to coordinate and support this group in delivery of its workplan.


During the last quarter, the Policy and Public Affairs Team organised two training sessions outlining the political and legislative landscapes that govern Northern Ireland, as well as providing insight into how to engage with them.

In April, we were joined by Fiona Payne, Senior Education and Engagement Officer (NI) at Westminster, for an in-depth seminar examining how to engage with the Westminster Parliament. Providing attendees with the context on how policy and legislation is produced in Westminster, the session outlined ways and ideas on how to effectively plan and implement a lobbying and campaigning strategy. Discussions focused on an introduction to Parliament: Contacting MPs / Peers (Lords), the aspects of the scrutiny function of Parliament, Public Bill Committee evidence submissions, and the role of Select Committees and evidence submission. Following on from the Westminster training session, the NI Assembly Engagement Team provided a similar session for members in June. Attendees were joined by Janet Robinson, Kate McCollough and Emma Gray for an interactive one-hour training session designed to examine how politics affects our everyday life, the role of MLAs, the role of the legislature, the different legislative and policy development mechanism and how to engage with them.

Assembly Election 2022

In the run up to the NI Assembly Election 2022, the Policy and Public Affairs Team provided a platform for Voluntary and Community Sector organisations to publish their Manifesto. With 49 sector manifestos registered on the webpage, the Team promoted the information and resource on Social Media to the wider VCSE sector and the Political Parties.

The team also provided a details Twitter thread linking to each of the Political Party Manifestos, and following the election provided information on social media on the new MLAs in each area.

Public Affairs Forum

In addition to resuming the monthly Public Affairs Newsletter, the Team have organised an event for the Public Affairs Forum for the end of June. The aim of the event, “The Effectiveness of All Party Groups in the Northern Ireland Assembly”, is to enable policy and public affairs professionals from across the Voluntary and Community Sector an opportunity to hear from those who have engaged with APGs, listen to their experience and perhaps understand how things work well and how they could work better.

Attendees at the event will hear from Aoife Hamilton, Employers for Childcare (APG on Early Years and Childcare), Stephen Browne, Red Cross (APG on Preventing Loneliness), Niamh Flanagan, Theatre and Dance NI (APG on Arts), and Kerry Boyd, Autism NI (APG on Autism). There will also be an opportunity for discussion and questions at the end.

Membership of Key Working Groups and Coalitions

Throughout this quarter the PPA Team continued to represent and support the work and interests of the sector via membership of a range of key local and national key working groups, coalitions, and alliances, including:

  • All Island Democratic Innovation Network
  • The Civil Society Alliance
  • The Equality Coalition
  • NI Anti-Poverty Strategy Design Group
  • ICP Third Sector Steering Group hosted by the regional Health and Social Care Board
  • ICP Third Sector Forum
  • Brexit & Human Rights Working Group

Providing Timely Information and Resources

During this quarter we continued to respond to information requests from across the sector and beyond and provided up to date information and guidance on subjects relevant to the sector via timely articles published on the NICVA website on subjects ranging from the development of UK Government Funds to the NI Assembly.

Examples include:

NI Assembly dissolved in advance of upcoming Assembly Elections 2022 | NICVA

Groups attended

ICP Steering Group

Civil Society Alliance

All Island Democratic Innovation Network

ICP Third Sector Forum

Events attended

NI Parenting Mental Health Conference

Looking Beyond Brexit Conference

Deafblind Friendly Scheme Training

NICVA’s Research Activities 

Workforce and Volunteers Survey 2022

The Workforce and Volunteers Survey 2022 was disseminated in October 2021 and reissued in January 2022 to all NICVA member organisations. The survey focused on profiling the VCSE Sector workforce and included recruitment and retention issues, employee enhancements, payscales and pensions and funding. A report of the findings can be accessed here Workforce and Volunteers 2021 | NICVA

Individual Giving 2022

The Individual Giving Survey 2022 was commissioned by NICVA in December 2021 and distributed in January 2022. This survey allowed NICVA to gather data from members of the public in Northern Ireland to map their patterns of donating to charity. Changes in these patterns and methods of giving were also measured. A report of the findings can be accessed here Individual Charitable Giving 2022 | NICVA. A further article on the findings can be accessed here Top 10 Results from NICVA’s Annual Individual Charitable Giving Survey 2022 | NICVA

Engagement with Members Survey 2022

The Engagement with Members Survey 2022 was disseminated in May 2022 to all NICVA member organisations. This survey sought to ascertain levels of satisfaction with NICVA’s services, in particular GrantTracker. Results will be available in due course.

NIVCA’s Members Views Survey 2022

The Members Views Survey was also disseminated in May 2022 to all NICVA member organisations. This survey focused on members views of a range of issues including the Northern Ireland Protocol. An article discussing the findings can be viewed here NICVA members give their views on getting NI government back | NICVA .


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