Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 13 May 2014

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened at 4.12pm

1. Apologies
Apologies are noted above.

Declaration of interests
No members declared an interest in relation to the agenda items.
The Chair noted that, as quorum had not been reached, the meeting would proceed, but that decisions could not be taken until the group reconvened.

2. Adoption of Previous Minutes
Minutes of the Meeting held 18 March 2014
The minutes of the above meeting were noted.

Action Point – Minutes of the ACC Advisory Group meeting of 18 March to be agreed at the September 2014 meeting, along with the Minutes of 13th May.

3. Matters Arising 

4. Feedback on Past ACC Events
a. Get Involved Lagan Valley 28th March 2014
b. Get Involved North Antrim 4th April 2014

The Chair referred the Group to a table detailing attendance figures in relation to the two previous Get Involved events, Get Involved Lagan Valley and Get Involved North Antrim. He expressed his delight at the high turnout at both of these events and at the excellent overall feedback, with 100% of the attendees at each event confirming that the positive experience of attending this event had made them more likely to engage with the Assembly and its Members at a future date.

c. Black and Minority Ethnic Parliament 30th April 2014

The Chair noted that, in association with the Northern Ireland Council on Ethnic Minorities, (NICEM), a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Get Involved and a Black and Ethnic Parliament had been held on 30th April. He noted that the event had been an all-round success with nearly 100 delegates participating in this Parliament and Ministers Farry and Ford in attendance to answer questions from the panel. He highlighted the fact that this event provided a unique opportunity for Members of the Black and Minority Ethnic community to question the Ministers on issues important to them and pointed out that a copy of the Official Report covering this event would be sent to all Advisory Group Members.

Action Point – Email BME Official Report to all members of Advisory Group

d. CLIC Sargent Sport Event
The Chair advised the group that, in association with Clic Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, the Devine Challenge, which aimed to raise awareness of the arduous journeys families have to undertake in order to attend hospitals for treatment, had taken place at the City Hall on 2nd April. At the request of the organisers, the Chair and Ministers Kennedy and Rogers took part in this three day fundraiser which had raised over £108,000. 

He further noted that he had invited the fundraisers to hold an event at Parliament Buildings next year where they would be provided with support and resources to help them raise awareness for this important cause

5. Future ACC Training Courses
a) ACC Forward Work Programme
The Chair directed the Group to the Forward Work Programme Schedule for 2014 events booked to date. In addition to the regular monthly How the Assembly Works training session on 27th May and Insight Into (How Plenary Works) on 30th May, he drew attention to the following:

  • Assembly Community Annual General Meeting.  

The Chair noted that this meeting had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday 10th June. He pointed out that, in order to celebrate Assembly Community Connect’s first year of engagement, the theme of this year’s AGM would be “Creating Connections” and that all of the attendees who had participated throughout the year in one of the many ACC events would be invited to come along. 

  • Black and Ethnic Minorities Get Involved and How Westminster Works Sessio

The Chair noted that, in conjunction with the members of OFMdFM Committee, a BME Get Involved event had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday 24th June. In addition to presentations from various NI Assembly business areas, a speed networking session would be held with the OFMdFM Committee members. 

  • Get Involved South Down 

The Chair advised the Group that the next Get Involved session had been scheduled to take place in South Down in September 2014. Details of the date and location would be confirmed after a planning meeting with the constituency MLAs had been held.

b) Targeted Events Programme
The Chair reminded the Group that the three areas selected for ACC attention and support in 2014 were Women, Ethnic Minorities and Disability and he highlighted a number of recent and forthcoming events where ACC had participated in presentations, exhibitions and events relating to these categories.

c) How the Assembly Works/ Insight Into training sessions
The Chair referred the Group to a table listing the attendance details in relation to the fourteen regular in house training sessions held since September 2013. It was noted that a very wide range of Third Sector organisations had participated in these sessions, that the sessions had been well attended and that the feedback from the participating organisations had been consistently positive. 
Susie Brown, Advisory Group Secretary, commented that, by focusing on the quality of a session and not the quantity of people attending, the decision to seat the participants at round tables as opposed to seating them in theatre style rows had proved to be much more conducive to successful sessions.

d) ACC Attendance Statistics 
The Chair referred the Group to a table reflecting the overall attendance statistics for ACC events since the last Advisory Group meeting. He noted that the ACC events continued to attract very good numbers with ACC membership growing every week.

e) Community Relations Week – 16th – 22nd June 2014
The Chair referred the Group to Community Relations Week, a week of events co-ordinated by the Community Relations Council running from Monday 16th to Sunday 22nd June. He noted that the theme of this year’s event was “Building a United Community” and that local organisations would be hosting a range of events to showcase their work and encourage participation in community relations activity.

He proposed that, in support of Community Relations Week, the NI Assembly should organise an event to publicise the positive projects and initiatives taking place across the province to promote a more shared society and invited Susie Brown to speak to her paper on Community Relations Week.

Susie presented her paper on Community Relations Week 2014 which outlined the background and proposed that, in support of advancing community relations, the NI Assembly should host an intercultural football tournament with World United, an intercultural football team project targeting:

  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • People from black and minority ethnic groups
  • Local Catholic and Protestant players/ volunteers interested in the promotion of good relations


She highlighted the fact that the scheme was supported by the Irish FA, NI Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM), NI Community Relations, UEFA, Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Unit and the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation. She further noted that the goal of the project was to increase the participation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in football and provide an environment free from racism, sectarianism and discrimination.

In conclusion, it was recommended that ACC organise two teams, one male, one female of at least five Members to participate in a mini football tournament which would be taking place on Wednesday 18th June at 12.00pm.

Action Point – As part of Community Relations Week, NIA mini football tournament to be organised in conjunction with World United for 18th June 2014

6. Fellowships
a) Business in the Community
The Chair reminded the Group that Sandra Overend had visited Business in the Community (BITC) on 31st January and that the feedback from this visit had been included in the meeting papers. He noted that, as Sandra had unfortunately been unable to attend this meeting, she would be providing the group with a summary of this visit at the next Advisory Group meeting

Action Point – Sandra Overend to provide the Group with a summary of her Fellowship visit at the September 2014 Advisory Group meeting.

b) British Red Cross
The Chair advised the Group that Assembly Community Connect had been approached by a representative from the British Red Cross in Northern Ireland who had expressed an interest in the Fellowship programme. He further confirmed that a pre visit Pro Forma had now been issued and that the Group would be kept updated on this visit.

Action Point – Fellowship visit to be organised with the British Red Cross

7. Selection of the Charity Policy
The Chair advised the Group that an email would shortly be sent to all Secretariat staff asking them to nominate a charity as a potential NIA Charity of the Year. He pointed out that each charity nominated would have to fall within the 2014 theme of poverty as identified by the Speaker.

Susie Brown expanded on this issue by reminding the Group that, in 2013, the NI Assembly had chosen Action Mental Health as its nominated charity of the year. It was felt however that, in order to give Secretariat staff some degree of ownership in the selection process this year, the process would be changed in order to incorporate staff nominations.

Nominations would be chosen from a register of approved charities which would have to meet with certain criteria with regard to the theme of poverty.

Action Point – Secretariat staff to be invited to nominate options for the 2014 NIA Charity of the Year

8. Annual General Meeting – 10th June 2014
The Chair advised the Group that the 2014 Assembly Community Connect (ACC) Annual General Meeting had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday 10th June 2013. He noted that the aim of this AGM would be to highlight all of the ACC events which had taken place throughout the year with the theme of the event being “Creating Connections”.

Louise Close advised the Group that she was currently overseeing the production of a video which would showcase the 2013/2014 work undertaken by Assembly Community Connect. She pointed out that she had been delighted with the response to ACC throughout the year.  She further pointed out that the ACC networking forum had not only provided a wonderful opportunity for Third Sector organisations to network with the NI Assembly, but also to network with each other.

In addition, she added that the new branded ACC promotional material would be on display at the AGM.
There followed a discussion among the Group in relation to the selection of a suitable guest speaker for the event and also the most desirable format for the event.

There followed a discussion by the group in relation to the correlation between a thriving network of community/ voluntary organisations and a strong community. It was agreed that the valuable contribution of Third Sector organisations within a community had the undoubted effected of enriching that community and shaping it into a more successful one than counterpart communities lacking in the support of community organisations.

Action Point – Guest Speaker to be selected for the Assembly Community Connect 2014 AGM.

9. Any Other Business
Maria Bannon, NIA Equality Manager, advised the Group that the NI Assembly Commission had just completed its annual Equality Report and that complete ACC statistics and information had been included in this report.

10. Date and Time of Next Meeting
The date and time of the next meeting was agreed as:
4.00pm on Tuesday 16th September 2014

The meeting closed at 4.38pm

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