As well as investigating what has worked, where improvements can be made and where energy should be focused in the future, it was the launch of NICVA’s new online campaign site www.ActUpNI.org
The over 90 voluntary and community activists in attendance were treated to an exceptional presentation by former anti-apartheid campaigner and current Director of Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo. Kumi talked about the “responsibility” that civil society organisations had to campaign and where necessary dissent in pursuit of positive social change. This sentiment was echoed by Stratagem Director Quintin Oliver when he said “Campaigning is a necessary outlet for outrage. We have a duty to ‘act up’ and a duty to dissent”.
Kumi brought up many issues of key importance to voluntary and community sector organisations across the world including ‘consultation fatigue’. Kumi pointed out that "the voluntary and community sector has been given the opportunity to speak, but not necessarily be heard" and that as a result the sector should choose carefully and strategically how it allocated its resources in pursuit of its goals.
Duane Farrell (Age NI) and Margaret McGuckin (Victims and Survivors of Institutional Abuse) gave inspirational insight into their own campaigning work providing the conference with practical examples of what has worked for those local organisations and why.
A panel discussion involving Jim Wells MLA, NIPSA’s Brian Campfield, Autism NI’s Arlene Cassidy, Amnesty’s Patrick Corrigan and NICVA’s Lisa McElherron gave activists the opportunity to quiz those involved in (or in the case of Jim Wells on the receiving end) of campaigning and lobbying.
This event is part of a programme of work by NICVA on campaigning and lobbying, which will continue to evolve and develop in the coming months and years to meet the needs of the voluntary and community sector.
Online campaigning resource
With this in mind, NICVA has launched www.ActUpNI.org — a place where organisations can put the issues that matter to them into the public domain and engage with supporters. It is another tool in the sector's toolkit for lobbying and campaigning. NICVA is keen, through ActUpNI and campaigning and lobbying training, to build campaigning capacity and promote solidarity across the sector so we can speak with a unified, loud and effective voice, fighting for the positive social change we all wish to see.
There is a Storify of the event here
The Vital Links project is part-financed by the European Union's European Regional Development Fund through the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE III) managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. The Special EU Programmes Body is the Managing Authority for the European Union's PEACE III Programme.