The Community Foundation in Northern Ireland gathered philanthropists from charities and other voluntary organisations to take part in their Civic Innovation Programme.
The aim was to spur on innovative ideas in an effort to strengthen voices within the community of Northern Ireland. In the spirit of strengthening democracy, all participants shared hope for greater access to participation in making impactful decisions and the belief that everyone has a right to participate in decisions that will affect them.
According to The Community Foundation, ‘90% of those that attended strongly believe that the NI assembly does not enable ordinary people to have a meaningful say in decision making, highlighting the need for more community voice and participation.’
Ideas for empowerment of voices included a community rights act, mandatory voting and connected politics.
Paul Braithwaite, Head of Innovation and Voice at the Foundation said, ‘As we shape our plans for supporting communities to have a voice in Northern Ireland, it is inspiring to hear how together we can overcome these barriers and deepen democracy.’
The Civic Innovation Programme is scheduled to begin this autumn and will provide on-going support citizens of Northern Ireland, who wish to advocate for themselves and their community.
The programme states that they are ‘Open to all voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, a combination of intensive project design support and technical expertise on public participation and grant-funding will facilitate emerging and new initiatives.’
The programme will split into two strands: Civic Activism and Democracy Lab. The first works towards collaboration development and delivery of new ideas and the latter will learn from one another to collaborate and access international networks and knowledge around deliberative democracy.