People and Communities conversation – What we have learned

Thank you to everyone who gave us feedback during the conversation period 15th June – 30th September. We’re taking your views on board as we develop the new People and Communities programme, but here is a snap shot of what you told us to date.


What we have learned

  • The VCSE sector is very welcoming of the open nature of the People and Communities programme.
  • There is widespread support for the strengths-based approach. However, a number of people said they need help with identifying and evidencing the strengths in their community.


  • Some people said we should consider accepting new forms of evidence like case studies or films.
  • Communities have a variety of strengths – one of the most important was identified as: people and the skills and experiences that they bring. many people suggested that we should bring people together at all stages to share ideas, learning and best practice, to help people build on these strengths.


  • There is a great appetite for face to face contact at all stages of the funding journey – including workshops in communities to provide advice before writing applications; visiting groups during assessment to get a better sense of the issues; and during grant management to showcase good work and best practice and to better share information.
  • Groups may find it challenging to effectively manage people’s expectations of success when they get involved in a project. It was also highlighted that previous negative experiences may discourage people from getting involved.
  • Other challenges identified included issues specific to rural areas such as access to services, and involving people across a more dispersed area.

Facebook people and Communities Group: Catherine Taylor BsbwPeople and Communities #FundingPeopleNI
21 September at 14:32· We believe that the access and availability of preventative services to the older population living in the rural areas of Northern Ireland needs to be a focus See More

  • Engagement methods need to be tailored to the specific needs of the people you want to involve in design and delivery.
    Age, transport needs, health issues, and specific vulnerabilities may be a barrier to getting involved and groups need to take these into consideration.
  • The financial situation facing the VCSE sector and its impact on project sustainability needs to be considered in the discussion around building on the strengths of a community.
  • Organisations have acknowledged that there will be competition for this programme and there has been discussion about us funding projects which are picking up on unmet needs or shortfalls due to government funding cuts.


  • The idea that people may know what they want but don’t always know what they need was highlighted by some groups as a challenge to involving people in project design and delivery.
  • People are generally supportive of our flexibility and how we currently support applicants and grantholders with our application support, media training and development and support contracts.
  • Many people said they want simpler forms, best practice examples, transparency in decision making and clearer terminology, for example, what do we mean by assets and involving people?

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