Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2013/2014

Date: Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings

1. Apologies

Apologies are noted above.

The Chairperson welcomed Roisin Fleetham as the new Community Outreach Officer.

Declaration of interests

No members declared an interest in relation to the agenda items.

2. Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 11 June 2013

Agreed: The minutes of the above meeting were agreed.

3. Matters Arising

Matters arising to be covered in today’s agenda.

4. ACC Launch Feedback
 
The Chairperson referred the Board to the Assembly Community Connect Launch Feedback Report which reflected the high level of community engagement along with the positive feedback from this event.

Susie Brown provided the Board with an outline of the feedback report, a summary of the event, the community/ voluntary sector feedback along with the recommendations as follows:

Recommendations
 
ACC actively encourage the development of the network with the voluntary and community sector and continue educating organisations how, and when it’s appropriate to interact with all aspects of the Assembly.

That attendance at ACC events by MLAs is high and consistent, and at the very least all members of the Constituency are available at some point for interaction with attendees.

Members of the ACC Advisory Group may wish to consider dividing the voluntary and community sector into themed groups and allocate a Board member to be the champion of each.

[5.10pm Alban Maginness joined the meeting and was welcomed by the Chairperson as the new SDLP representative in place of Mark Durkan]

There followed a discussion on the following issues:

themed groups as opposed to generic groups
the extent of ACC remit in relation to the provision of support for community and voluntary organisations.

Agreed: Two ACC Launch Feedback Recommendations were agreed (papragraphs 19 and 20 of the report) by the Board

Action Point: Susie Brown to draft an Options Paper in relation to issues arising out of the third recommendation (paragraph 21 of the report).
 
5. ACC Training Events
 
The Chairperson provided the Board with an overview of the forthcoming ACC Training Programme which incorporates the following sessions:

How the Assembly Works - an education programme providing participants with an overview of the Assembly mechanisms and advise on how best to engage.

Insight into the Assembly - a series of training seminars providing participants with a detailed insight into the Assembly’s processes and procedures. Sessions include:

-       How a Bill becomes Law
-       How Committees work                                 
-       The Inquiry Process and Making Effective 
-       Submissions to Committees   

Get Involved – a series of conferences which brings the work of the Assembly to local communities. Delegates learn more about how the Assembly works as well as get a chance to question their local MLAs about issues that matter. 

It was noted by the Board that the forthcoming sessions are fully subscribed.

Get Involved Derry/ Londonderry

Louise Close updated the group on the Get Involved Derry/ Londonderry event, noting that 44 representatives from the voluntary and community sector had attended. A tabled paper summarising the feedback from the event was noted by the Board members and attendees.

[5.20pm Sandra Overend left the meeting]

Get Involved West Tyrone/ Get Involved Strabane
 
The Chairperson advised the attendees that the next two Get Involved conferences had been scheduled to take place in West Tyrone (20th September 2013) and Upper Bann (8th November 2013). 

It was noted that 47 delegates had been confirmed for West Tyrone, along with the full commitment of all six constituency Members.

It was also noted that planning had begun for Upper Bann and that, whilst Mr Gardiner would be unavailable due to his earlier commitment to attend a Remembrance Day Service in London, the remaining five constituency Members had pledged their support to the event.

Map of NI Get Involved Conference History
 
The Chairperson referred the group to a map which highlighted the details of constituencies visited to date through the Get Involved Programme. It was noted that, by December 2013, North Antrim had not been included.

Agreed: It was agreed that North Antrim should be included in the 2014 Outreach Get Involved Training Programme

The Chairperson referred the Board to requests from Lagan Valley and Fermanagh South Tyrone to hold Get Involved events.

Agreed: It was agreed that Lagan Valley and Fermanagh South Tyrone should be included in the 2014 Outreach Get Involved Training Programme.

Susie Brown proposed that South Down should also be included in the 2014 Outreach Get Involved events.

Agreed: It was agreed that Lagan Valley and Fermanagh South Tyrone should be included in the 2014 Outreach Get Involved Training Programme.

Action Point: North Antrim, Lagan Valley, Fermanagh South Tyrone and South Down to be included in ACC 2014 Get Involved Training Programme.

Community Requests for Bespoke Training Services

The Chairperson referred the Board to a table which reflected a cross section of requests from voluntary organisations for bespoke training, participation or support from the Assembly Community Connect Project.

Forward Work Programme

The Chairperson referred the Board to the ACC Forward Work Programme’s Diary of Events from September to December and encouraged Member to attend where possible.

6. Fellowships – Business in the Community

In relation to Chris Lyttle’s recent visit to Brussels and Sandra Overend’s forthcoming visit, the Chairperson asked that this item be returned to the agenda at the next Board meeting as both Mr Lyttle and Ms Overend were in Plenary.

Action Point:

Agenda item 6 – Fellowships – Business in the Community to be reviewed at the next ACC Board Meeting.

Northern Ireland Environment Link (N.I.E.L)
 
The Chairperson referred the group to a request from the Northern Ireland Environment Link for ACC involvement, which had been submitted to the Board along with some literature on the organisation.

There followed a discussion on the benefits of spending time with an organisation in order learn more about its mechanisms, functions and goals and how best to approach this issue on a proactive basis.

One of the Board members asked if it would be possible to draft a key summary of the visit to feed back to the Assembly with recommendations on how best to assist organisations in preparing and structuring for these visits.

7. Women into Politics Event

Susie Brown updated the group on the Board’s interest in supporting a stronger engagement between women and politics. She updated the members on the outcome of a recent meeting with the Politics Plus team which resulted in an agreement to facilitate a Political Pop-up Academy launch event scheduled to take place on 22 October. From an ACC point of view, involvement in this event would also to be an opportunity to educate, train and inform women in the political process.

It was noted that this was a good example of a proactive partnership event and discussion took place on other avenues, such as school visits by MLAs and a sourcing of common ground/ audiences to share, should be explored in relation to fostering and encouraging women to participate in the political process.

Louise Close provided the Board with an overview of a recent women’s group training session event hosted by Paula Bradley. Feedback from this event had been extremely positive with the women who took part expressing strong views on the confidence, empowerment and inspiration that they had taken away from the session.

There followed a discussion about the best approach to encouraging more such female training sessions. It was noted that, whilst there were many women heavily involved in the work of the charity/ voluntary sector, very few of these women moved on into front line politics.

[5.55 Sandra Overend rejoined the meeting]

Sandra Overend provided the group with an overview of her participation in the women’s group training session event hosted by Paula Bradley.

Action Point

ACC to focus on encouraging similar women’s training events to be held at Parliament Buildings.

8. Requests for Sports Events
 
The Chairperson advised the group that the MLA football event which had been scheduled for September had been cancelled and will be rescheduled on a later date, to be confirmed.

9. Outreach Attendance at External Events
 
The Mela Festival

Susie Brown provided the group with an overview of the Assembly’s participation in the Mela Festival which took place on 26th August 2013. She highlighted the fact that the objective of the stand was to provide an opportunity to improve public awareness of the work of the Assembly and the role of the Community Outreach Service. In addition, it provided members of the public with an opportunity to engage face to face with the MLAs in attendance.

Feedback from the event was very positive with almost 2000 visitors, a high level of audience interaction and a substantial amount of Assembly literature distributed.

It was noted by the Chairperson that a constituency member had enquired about the cost of the Assembly’s participation in this event and it was agreed that a breakdown of the costs would be provided.

It was noted by a Board member that, as the voting process and eligibility criteria is not always clear, it might be useful to use the Assembly’s participation in the Mela to inform people of their rights in this respect.

John Stewart proposed that it would therefore be worthwhile to incorporate some literature from the Electoral Commission at the Assembly stand.

Action Point:

Literature from the NI Electoral Commission to be included at the Assembly stand in forthcoming Mela events.

Action Point:

A financial breakdown of the cost of participation in the Mela to be provided

Agreed: It was agreed by the Board that the Assembly would continue to play a role in the Belfast Mela in future years.

10. Rotation of Chair
 
The Chairperson advised the group that, in accordance with the Board’s rules, of a six month rotation of the Chairperson, his role was due to come to an end. There followed a discussion on the possibility of a six month extension of the tenure of this position, thereby increasing the post to a twelve month one.
It was generally agreed that a twelve month tenure would give the Chairperson a better opportunity to fully develop their own role within the Board.

Agreed: It was agreed that this matter would be discussed with the deputy Chairperson and the Group would defer to her choice.

Action Point:

In relation to the length of tenure of the post, Susie Brown to discuss the flexibility of the role Chairperson with Deputy Chairperson.

11. Any Other Business
 
Shrieking Sisters – Drama Piece on Ulster Suffragette Militant Campaign
 
The Chairperson referred the Board to a paper outlining the work of local playwrights, Carol Moore and Maggie Cronin who requested, via correspondence to the Deputy Chairperson, that they might perform this piece of work at Stormont. The play, which was commissioned by the Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Unit, highlights the fact that nearly six out of ten women do not vote and the possible correlation with the fact that this disengagement may be reflected in the post 2011 election figures in that only 20 of the 108 elected Members were women.

It was noted that the forthcoming Pop-up Academy Launch on 22 October may be an appropriate context for the performance of this play.

Action Point:
 
Susie Brown to invite Carol Moore and Maggie Cronin to stage their play at the Politics Plus Pop-up Academy Launch.

CO3 Mentoring Programme
 
John Stewart provided the group with an overview of the C03 Mentoring Programme, which enables members to benefit from the experience and knowledge of their peers, either from within the third Sector or from the public and private sectors.

He noted that the participants met once a month for a period of a year and cited this as a good example of high quality engagement. 

ACC Twitter

On a final note the Chair encouraged the group members to sign up to the ACC Twitter feed.

Date of Next Meeting

It was agreed that the date of the next Advisory Group Meeting would be

Tuesday 5th November at 5.00pm

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