4 Feb 2020
Fourteen new initiatives aimed at deepening local democracy in communities across Northern Ireland will share £500,000 of funding, mentoring and support from the Community Foundations Civic Innovation programme. 30 groups completed the pitching process held at Democracy Day, 29th January at Stormont Buildings. These groups then had the opportunity to discuss their project with other individuals and organisations in a global cafe discussion and agreed on which groups they felt would increase public participation in democratic decision making the most.
Community organisations came to pitch on a wide range of topics and challenges from health issues, disengagement of the unemployed through to the absence of a Community Rights Act in Northern Ireland. Examples included.
The Integrated Education Fund who are seeking to challenge the segregated school system as a result of duplication of school provision by consulting and engaging communities around possible school amalgamations.
NI Youth Forum who highlighted the need for a Northern Ireland Youth Assembly to overcome young people’s disconnection and exclusion from the democratic process and
Garvagh Development Trust who want to support people to address the local effects of climate change and loss of biodiversity.
The Civic Innovation programme is designed to support the improvement of local democracy. It is the only independently funded programme of its kind in the UK or Ireland. The successful organisations will benefit from a combination of intensive project design support, expertise on public participation and grant-funding of £50,000 per group over 18 months, with ten awards available. Funders of the programme include Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
Paul Braithwaite, Head of Innovation and Voice at the Community Foundation explained, “The Civic Innovation programme formally commenced at Democracy Day delivered in partnership with Imagine Belfast Festival. As well as getting some inspiration from international and local contributors working in the fields of public participation and democratic innovation, he 14 successful programme participants will now attend a series of project design workshops in Derry-Londonderry and Belfast where they will have time and space to develop the details of their idea and receive expert mentoring and support”.