By Kathy Ayers, Senior Policy and Learning Manager
Over the past couple of months, you’ve been talking to us about our plans for a new funding programme in Northern Ireland, People and Communities, which is opening early next year – and we’re looking at what you’ve told us so far.
People have been giving us examples of work they do and work they have seen others do that they believe shows the great potential in communities. Some people have talked about the value of specific pieces of work such as small clubs running activities for older people. Others have been asking for support to build leadership skills across Northern Ireland. We are busy working on designing a funding programme and a way of working that reflects all of your good ideas.
Projects we fund through this programme will involve people in the community at every stage. Yet, we haven’t really talked about why we want to put people in the lead through People and Communities, and why we think you should put people in the lead too. We have a whole list of reasons for this.
First, this isn’t the first time we have talked to people about how we work, what we should fund, and how best to make a difference to people and communities in need. Last year we asked these questions as part of our Your Voice Our Vision consultation. Because of what you told us, we set out our new way of working — People in the Lead.
Second, it’s the right thing to do. The money we have for communities is your money. It’s money people willingly spend on the lottery. People provide the money, and people should be involved in how it is spent.
Third, it makes for better work. We know this because of our experience of making grants for years. We track the progress of projects we fund, and many use evaluations which show that people in the community helping to decide what is needed and wanted makes for better results. Involving people also means that they are motivated to be part of a change. They also bring their skills and knowledge to help projects make a difference. They help review what happens and then use the learning to plan what’s next.
This is why we are putting people in the lead. Why are you doing it?
You can find all the details about People and Communities on our website.