People and Communities is our flagship programme that will support you to work with local people to make positive changes in communities across Northern Ireland. We plan to open it in late January.
In this blog Kathy Ayers, Senior Policy and Learning Manager, explains a bit more about the connected approach.
When I first arrived in Northern Ireland many years ago, I had someone tell me, “The thing you have to remember is that there are actually only 400 people in Northern Ireland. And after a while, you know them all.” On one hand, we can clearly see this statement is just plain wrong. But on the other hand, it can certainly feel like everyone knows somebody, who knows somebody, who lives down the street from someone who you just happened to have seen the day before.
You know people and they know people. You use services or know about groups around where you live or you work. But if this is all obvious then why am I talking about it? Because this is what we mean when we say that the projects we will fund through People and Communities need to be connected.
A good project knows what is around the corner – and what isn’t. You can’t be part of a community and not realise who else is there too. You need to know what others are doing and if what they are doing is working.
You don’t have to work with all the people and organisations and services around you. But you should know about them and use this knowledge to know if you can or should work together and when you need to do something on your own.
I know of a great project that started out by mapping out where existing services where, where the people who needed some support where and what organisations were around the people. They didn’t start new services in new areas, instead they used organisations near the people to deliver the project.
In a conversation with another grant holder, we talked about where a project was based, its opening hours, how close it was to public transport links and how often those links ran. They had considered how easy or difficult it could be for someone to get to them and organised their work with this in mind.
Often to be connected, to have this knowledge, you have to involve people and find out what they think is working and what they want to change. Somehow in thinking about connections, I have ended up also thinking about strength-based, people led approaches. Maybe you can’t do one without doing the other.
Keep up to date with our Plans for People and Communities on the website.