New project will improve leadership in the West’s community groups

 

An ambitious project to identify and develop leaders and help secure a positive future for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector was launched today.
Fermanagh Trust in partnership with Holywell Trust in Derry/Londonderry and the Rural Community Network a regional support organisation that is based in Cookstown, launched ‘Community Leadership in the West.’


The five-year project has been funded with a grant of £500,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. It will offer qualifications to support the next generation of leaders to be able to respond and react confidently to the challenges they face and give them the skills to ensure that community voices are heard when working with statutory organisations.


Launched via a Zoom event more than 100 representatives from the Community and Voluntary sector, local decision makers and funders, were given an outline of the programme to date and upcoming training opportunities.People attending the virtual event were also able to give their views on the importance of leadership, helped plan future activities and discuss the challenges ahead for the community and voluntary sector.


Lauri McCusker, Director of Fermanagh Trust explained: “Community Leadership in the West has the potential to change the future of the VCSE sector– particularly important as we continue to adapt to the challenges around COVID-19. The need for engagement with communities on big issues and the skills needed for leadership in communities is more important than ever. As government continues to localise decision making about things like health services, policing and education, it’s essential that local community leaders have the skills to influence those decisions.”


Lauri added: “We’re very excited about the positive feedback received at our launch. People are stepping up like never before and effecting real change via their various community groups. The aim of this project is to get more of this, support those who are making things happen and succession plan for the future, giving the next generation the chance they need. Our training programme includes a wide range of topics for all backgrounds and abilities.so please do have a look and our website and hopefully you can join us.”


A survey carried with 120 organisations in the West last May revealed that young people are largely underrepresented in the governance of community based organisations, with the average age of committee members being 53.


Other findings included:
Nearly 50% of members have served on the same committee for over six years, highlighting the challenges of succession planning.
93.9% of respondents felt that the community would benefit if people were able to access professional community development qualifications locally.


Kate Beggs, the Northern Ireland Director of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “It’s inspiring to see new leaders rising to the challenges in communities, supporting people in need. It is great that the three partner organisations from across the West are coming together in this combined effort. This project sets a strategic direction, helping pave the way for the VSCE sector through succession planning for the future.”


A number of training courses are currently up and running. For a full outline of the programme of courses CLICK HERE / E: leadership@fermanaghtrust.org / Tel: 028 66 320 210.


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