The Executive’s good relations strategy Together Building a United Community (T:BUC) acknowledges the importance of the voluntary and community sector in contributing to the delivery of the strategy’s objectives. The case studies woven throughout the Strategy are testimony to the value and depth of the community work that is ongoing. Community involvement and the wider benefits that flow from working collectively and in partnership with government are crucial to building a united community and an essential element contributing to effective delivery of positive change at a local level.
A united community cannot be achieved solely by Government or those directly involved in peace building - both have a vital part to play. Positive and constructive collaboration and interaction are essential components in delivering the transformation to our community as set out in the strategy.
The establishment of the T:BUC Engagement Forum will support structured stakeholder engagement in recognition of the need to engage in a more structured and co-ordinated way with those groups and individuals who work tirelessly within our community and have so much to contribute, especially in terms of local knowledge and access, experience and expertise.
The T:BUC Engagement Forum will enable voluntary and community sector organisations to influence the effective implementation of the T:BUC strategy focusing on the four T:BUC priorities:
- Our children and young people
- Our shared community
- Our safe community
- Our cultural expression
The Forum will directly involve the voluntary and community sector in the delivery of the good relations vision and provide the sector with an opportunity to identify enabling and constraining factors and evaluate its contribution. The Forum will build and enhance community engagement and interaction both within the sector and between government and the sector. This engagement will encourage innovation and identify and embed best practice, inform delivery direction and support an outcome based approach to delivery.
The Forum will be influential in supporting peace-building through the development of a co-ordinated process. This will assist in the creation of vibrant and sustainable communities through social, physical and economic regeneration.
The main objectives of the forum are to:
- Enable government and its associated bodies to update the sector on progress with regard to the implementation of T:BUC.
- Enable the sector to address T:BUC implementation issues, identify good practice and make practical and innovative recommendations for improved delivery.
The Forum will provide a mechanism for the sector to:
- Explore concerns of the sector and feed back to government;
- Promote more joined up responses to issues raised by the sector relating to the implementation of T:BUC;
- Work together and share experience, expertise and best practice;
- Promote and assist with the implementation of an outcome based approach to delivery.
This engagement will also include input from officials responsible for the delivery of the headline actions and representatives from the various groups in the T:BUC delivery architecture.
The Community Relations Council (CRC) will co-ordinate and report the views of the Forum to The Executive Office (TEO).
Following each meeting of the Forum, the CRC will collate and produce a summary record for dissemination to stakeholders and TEO of key messages. These key messages will focus on suggestions and recommendations for the improved delivery and implementation of T:BUC aims and objectives.
The Forum will evaluate and report on how it is making a difference to/contributing to achieving the shared aims under each of the four T:BUC priorities.
Membership will include community practitioners and representatives from faith groups, and business, voluntary and community sector organisations working to improve community relations.
Membership will also include central and local government officials involved in the delivery of T:BUC headlines actions and other associated programmes, representatives from other T:BUC advisory groups and other key good relations funders.
Invitations will be issued to a wide range of appropriate organisations. A database of appropriate organisations, government officials and other bodies involved in the Forum will be created and maintained by the CRC. Organisations will nominate representatives taking into account the relevance of theme of the particular meeting to the organisation or body.
If meetings are oversubscribed, attendance will be prioritised.
The T:BUC Engagement Forum is chaired by The Executive Office.
The group will meet at least three times per year. The meetings will normally take place as half day morning events with the option of a follow-on afternoon session and will focus on a particular T:BUC theme.
Secretariat support and reporting functions will be provided by the CRC.
Review of T:BUC Engagement Forum
The operation, structure and processes, terms of reference and membership of the T:BUC Engagement Forum will be reviewed annually to ensure it is working effectively and that progress is being made to meet the Forum’s overall aim and purpose.
Amended May 2017