Social integration – moving forward together: Lord Morrow

Date published: 23 March 2016

Social Development Minister Lord Morrow MLA has outlined his Department’s commitment in working with key stakeholders to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland have a greater say in the decisions that affect their local communities and lives.

Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley

The Minister was speaking at an event in Parliament Buildings when he opened a seminar at the invitation from the Building Change Trust (BCT). The BCT was established in 2009 with a £10million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund to expend over a ten year period to support change and transformation within the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector in Northern Ireland.

Minister Morrow said: “Given the ongoing challenges faced by both government and the voluntary and community sector, the areas that the Building Change Trust has chosen to focus its resources on couldn’t be more relevant; Social Finance, Inspiring Impact, Social Innovation, Collaboration and Civic Thinking.

“The Trust has now been working for eight years and has achieved a lot in that time. The big challenge for the final two years is to ensure there is a critical mass of action and partnership and collaboration in these areas to cement the Trusts legacy through sustained action and subsequent impact delivered by Northern Ireland’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sectors. In order for this to happen there needs to be buy in from government as well as these key partners."

The Minister added: “At a time of contracting public finances there is a limit to the concept of doing more with less and a recognition of the need for more innovation or good ideas about how we can do things better. Part of this transformation will be around the sector accessing alternative funding mechanisms to delivery that demonstrates impact on people’s lives. We need to be working in such a way that encourages and rewards innovative approaches to the problems we continue to grapple with and this needs greater collaboration, not just between voluntary organisations but with government and increasingly the private sector. Furthermore, to ensure we are going in the right direction we want a strong civic voice to challenge and ensure citizens have a greater say in the decisions that affect their local communities and lives.”

Continuing the Minister said: “From my own Department’s perspective we have had direct involvement in a number of BCT’s initiatives. We have supported and participated in both stages of the Inspiring Impact project to date. Implementing an outcomes focussed approach is a key priority for Government and addresses a number of commitments. There is a Concordat commitment ‘to work together to implement an outcome-focused approach to funding’ alongside NI Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee recommendations about the need to provide effective measurement of Government’s investment in voluntary and community sector activity.

“The intention is that the new Programme for Government will have shared outcomes and targets across the nine new Departments. It is also intended there will be linkages between the Programme for Government and Community Plans, a clear focus on sustainability, and new ways of working - all evidenced by an outcome focussed approach. This will be a challenge for all concerned and highlights the timeliness of the Inspiring Impact project.

“Social innovation is another policy area where the BCT work comes at an opportune time for us. As part of our commitment under the Executive’s Social Innovation Strategy, Innovate NI, my Department is leading on a working group bringing key stakeholders from across government and the voluntary and community sector, social enterprise and private sectors together to identify key actions that we can take to encourage innovative new ways to tackle the ingrained social problems we face here in Northern Ireland.

“I believe this complements the work that the Trust has been doing with their proposals for Social Innovation NI. I hope by working together we will be able to contribute to the Executive’s vision that Northern Ireland, by 2025, will be recognised as an Innovation Hub and will be one of the UK’s leading high-growth, knowledge-based regions which embraces creativity and innovation at all levels of society."

Concluding the Minister said: “It is clear that Northern Ireland needs an innovative and enterprising third sector and the BCT should be commended for being at the forefront of promoting some of the changes required to achieve that. Those representing the Trusts work streams should continue the collaboration of working with the other key partners to consider not only how this work may influence their dealings with the sector but how we work internally as well.”

Notes to editors: 

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