Why The Need For This Toolkit

The need for this toolkit, as outlined in the preceding sections, emerged from a series of workshops and consultations with the VCSE sector over late 2013 and early 2014. A number of proposals emerged during this period in relation to how the Trust could use its resources to help the sector reassert its ‘civic voice’ function:

  1. Enable the sector to advocate for a more open, participatory and accountable model of governance in Northern Ireland – this the Trust is pursuing through its ongoing work on the Open Government Partnership
  2. Enable the sector to better understand and re-assert its independence – to this end the Trust is commissioning a two year participatory research initiative
  3. Enable the sector to reconnect with citizens, and facilitate their engagement in decision-making through experimenting with innovative and creative civic activism tools and approaches

This toolkit is intended to address the third point above. It has been compiled from two main sources:

  • A series of Ideas Generation workshops conducted across Northern Ireland in June 2014, facilitated by the Interaction Institute for Social Change and Helen McLaughlin
  • Research and mapping of innovative international tools and approaches, conducted by Involve, a London-based NGO specialising in public participation

During early 2015 the Trust will also be launching a grants programme to provide linked to this toolkit to enable the VCSE sector in Northern Ireland to experiment with the tools presented in Tools Directory.

There are three main sections to this toolkit:

  1. Top Tips: collected wisdom from experienced local practitioners on what works and what doesn’t
  2. Some Local Insipration: four case studies of innovative civic activism initiatives in Northern Ireland
  3. Tools Directory: a compilation of 29 tools and approaches from around the world that could potentially be applied in Northern Ireland