NICVA's Manifesto for Change - Unlocking the Full Potential of Voluntary and Community Action in NI

26 Jan 2021 Kathy Maguire    Last updated: 15 Feb 2021

manifesto for change
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NICVA is seeking sector feedback on our Manifesto for Change which sets out how government can work with the sector to unlock the full potential of community and voluntary action in Northern Ireland. 

The Manifesto for Change document was prepared by NICVA at the request of the Minister for Communities. Its purpose was to serve as an initial discussion document identifying some of the key strategic issues facing the sector and its future development. 

The issues raised within the Manifesto document reflect key issues voluntary and community organisations have  raised with NICVA over a number of years and which NICVA has continued to advocate to government on, alongside and on behalf of the sector.  The Manifesto identifies three suggested 'keys' to unlocking the full potential of community and voluntary action harnessed by sector organisations, namely : 

  • Key 1 – Improving Government Understanding and Policy on the Role and Contribution of Community and Voluntary Action.
  • Key 2 – Unblocking Key Barriers and Creating a Supportive Environment.
  • Key 3 – Valuing the Voice of Community and Voluntary Actors and Civil Society.

The document suggests a number of priority areas  for action under each key for government and the sector to work through together.

The manifesto document has been shared with Government and has been very positively received by the Minister for Communities and her department as the basis for future discussion and action to address the issues identified.

NICVA is now keen to take soundings from the sector on the key issues and recommended actions identified in the manifesto document. This is to ensure that the priorities identified reflect the sector’s key concerns and provide a good basis for future discussion and action with government. Most importantly we are keen to hear the sectors thoughts and feedback on how these actions can best be progressed.

To support this next step, in early March we shall be holding three online consultation events, each focussing on one of the three key themes (‘Keys’) identified and to create space and opportunity for participants to share feedback regarding.

Manifesto for Change Consultation Events

EVENT 1

Key 1 – Improving Government Understanding and Policy on the Role and Contribution of Community and Voluntary Action

Date:  Tuesday 2nd March, Time: 2:30pm - 4:00 pm, Via : Zoom

At this event we will discuss the priorities and actions identified under Key 1 and provide an opportunity for representatives to share their thoughts and feedback regarding.

Register to attend this event here 

EVENT 2

Key 2 – Unblocking Key Barriers and Creating a Supportive Environment

Date:  Thursday 4th March,Time: 2:30pm - 4:00 pm, Via : Zoom

At this event we will discuss the priorities and actions identified under Key 2 and provide an opportunity for representatives to share their thoughts and feedback regarding.

Register to attend this event here 

EVENT 3

Key 3 – Valuing the voice of community and voluntary actors and civil society

Date:  Tuesday 9th March, Time: 11:30am - 1:00 pm  Via : Zoom

At this event we will discuss the priorities and actions identified under Key 3 and create an opportunity for representatives to share their thoughts and feedback regarding.

Register to attend this event  here

  • At each of these events participants will hear more about the background to and the vision for the Manifesto document and will have an opportunity to give feedback on the themes and priorities identified .
  • These events will also be critically important in helping us identify next steps as to how the actions proposed under each key can be progressed in partnership with the sector and with government.
  • Representatives are free to register to attend all or some of the events, dependent on their particular area(s) of interest.

 

Overview of the Manifesto for Change document 

Community and voluntary action delivered through community and voluntary organisations has a huge contribution to make to delivering better outcomes for our people across every aspect our lives.  This contribution is delivered through a vast range of activities and services and has the potential to help Government across every Department meet its social, economic, and environmental objectives.

However, for a range of reasons, this potential is not always being fully realised and barriers still exist to unlocking it. 

Our Manifesto for Change document outlines to government three ‘keys’ we believe could help unlock these barriers and allow the full potential of voluntary action in Northern Ireland  to be fully realised.

The Manifesto document and its recommended actions are rooted in our discussions with and experiences of working across the community and voluntary sector. The document proposes three keys that we believe are of central importance in unlocking the full potential of community and voluntary action in Northern Ireland.  Each key is supported by a set of actions that we recommend be taken forward by Government, in partnership with the sector.

Key 1   Improving Government Understanding and Policy on the Role and Contribution of Community and Voluntary Action

Recommended Actions:

  • NI Government should develop a Northern Ireland Executive Policy on the role of community and voluntary action designed to maximise its benefits for NI society.
  • NI Government should develop a ten-year strategy for harnessing the potential of community and voluntary action to help deliver the Programme for Government (PfG)  outcomes.
  • NICVA should work with government to develop Guidance for Government Officials to help them understand work within voluntary and community organisations and complementary guidance for voluntary and community organisations on how government operates to help organisations engage effectively.

Key 2  Unblocking Key Barriers and Creating a Supportive Environment.

Recommended Actions: 

  • NI Government should review the various funding relationships and models which exist between it and voluntary and community organisations to evaluate which models are most effective in supporting voluntary action to deliver PfG outcomes.
  • NI Government should also consider under the above review how its policies  can support the funding and income generation models of organisations that do not receive public funding but rely on earned income, fundraising and trading (social enterprise) activities, as well as those for whom these represent a major proportion of their income, alongside public funding.
  • Government should review the legal requirements placed on voluntary and community organisations with a view to reducing undue burdens and disincentives to voluntary action.
  • As part of the above review, government should undertake a healthcheck and re-affirmation of those public policies and legal incentives designed to encourage voluntary action (e.g. rates relief) to identify where these need to be either re-affirmed or built upon to create a supportive environment.

Key 3 – Valuing the voice of community and voluntary actors and civil society.

Recommended Actions:

  • We would encourage government to establish a range of mechanisms to encourage structured voluntary/community and civic engagement ranging from citizens’ assemblies to social partner and civic forums.
  • NI Government should review and ensure that public policies and legislation are creating an encouraging environment for voluntary and community voices to be heard and not creating disincentives.
  • NI Government should ensure that the Community and Voluntary Action Guide for government officials proposed in Key 1 includes guidance on the value of the voluntary and community sector’s role in challenging, informing and reflecting the impacts of public policies, as well as informing the development of new policies and legislation.

 

kathy.maguire@nicva.org's picture
by Kathy Maguire

Policy Development Officer

[email protected]

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