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Two of Northern Ireland’s leading charities are launching a joint campaign against the reintroduction of prescription charges for those living with long term conditions. British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI) and the MS Society’s Keep Us Well1 campaign is calling on Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and the Stormont Executive to end the uncertainty and commit to no return to prescription charges for the one in three people here living with one or more long term conditions. The Keep Us Well campaign is supported by the Prescription Charges Coalition and the Long Term Conditions Alliance NI, together representing more than…

The hidden problem of ‘sofa surfing’ was highlighted today as members of Belfast City Council’s Youth Forum joined the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, and Jim Dennison, Chief Executive of Simon Community NI, to push a giant sofa from Cornmarket to Belfast City Hall. Almost 40 percent of those registered as homeless in the city are under the age of 24, with many relying on friends or hostels for temporary accommodation. Following the sofa push, young people joined Simon Community NI in the grounds of Belfast City Hall to offer advice and signposting to other teens to help…

By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor A group of protesters held a demonstration in Belfast city centre today to highlight the sharp rise in the number of welfare benefit sanctions taking place. Development worker Sean Brady from the Participation and the Practice of Rights organisation said the demonstration was held by the Right to Work: Right to Welfare group who have been monitoring outside unemployment offices  for the last three years and have witnessed a steady increase in sanctions and benefit stoppages. “This is driving people to food banks, poverty and destitution,”said Mr Brady. “They are here today to tell the decision makers…

By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor As Northern Ireland gets set to host the Year of Food next year, a call was made for an urgent need to tackle hunger on our streets. The call for action was made at the launch of the latest issue of VIEW (http://bit.ly/1XsYUtq) at the National Grande Cafe in High Street earlier this week. Among those who attended the event were Ginger Restaurant owner/chef Simon McCance; Jim Kitchen, Executive Director of Sustainable NI; Kerry Melville, Belfast Food Network co-ordinator; Mary McManus, Manager, East Belfast Independent Advice Centre; community gardener Arlene Megaw and Dr Sue Christie. Mr…

Our latest issue of VIEW is now online. It’s a themed look at food issues, especially the amazing growth in community gardens in Northern Ireland. A big thanks to all who contributed to this issue, especially Belfast Food Network co-ordinator Kerry Melville and the support we received from the Food Standards Agency NI. If you would prefer to download a PDF, go to http://bit.ly/1MeyROv http://issuu.com/brianpelanone/docs/view_32?e=3341601/30946000

By Brian Pelan A fantastic evening of dance, colour and sound effects was on display last night at the Nine Nights Diwali Indian light show in Belfast. A huge crowd were treated at the City Hall to a feast of sound and energy. Full credit to all those who organised it and took part in it. Another reason why we must do everything we can to support the arts and protect it from funding cutbacks

VIEWdigital co-founder Brian Pelan entered the Dragon’s Den today at the Dunadry Hotel at a conference organised  by Social Enterprise NI. Brian was one of five individuals, trying to secure a £1,500 award before the panel of judges – Colin Jess (Ulster Bank); Karen Lynch (Belu Water) and Phelim Sharvin (UCIT). The winner was Cavanstone, a social enterprise based in Dromore. The conference, which was well attended, was hosted by UTV’s Paul Clark.

By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor Amidst the grandeur of the Harbour Office in Belfast, Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, gave a social justice lecture last night (Monday, October 19) about combating poverty. The event was organised by the Law Centre (NI). Ms Unwin delivered a polished performance in which she touched upon many of the key factors surrounding poverty in the UK and the need to change it. Shortly after her talk ended, I posed some questions to her around the issue of poverty and why is it still with us in the 21st century?. “I think…

VIEWdigital co-founder Una Murphy, left, who spoke at a workshop at yesterday’s Digital DNA conference in Titanic, Belfast, with Stephen Gray from NICVA and head of digital content at MacMillian Cancer, Amanda Neylon. The workshop, aimed at the third sector, explored the various digital technologies which have proven a track record in assisting organisations in the community/voluntary/charity sector to become more efficient, responsive and effective in achieving their objectives.

Third sector organisations are still leading the way when it comes to best-practice leadership and service provision, according to the head of the umbrella group for voluntary, community and social enterprise chiefs in Northern Ireland. Speaking at the launch of the CO3 leadership awards – Celebrating Champions 2016 – Nora Smith, Chief Executive of CO3, said that third sector leaders are at the forefront of delivering vital services and providing a voice for those in most need. Ms Smith said: “This is despite ongoing financial pressures including reduced overall funding and delayed processing of existing funding. In an era of austerity, more is expected from…

How can charities, community groups and other not for profit organisations best embrace and harness the full potential benefits that digital platforms, tools and content offer? We asked digital communications specialist Harry Reid to share his 10 top tips 1,  Become informed – The core of ‘the digital thing’ is developing a sensibility about what each of the range of digital tools, when well deployed, can achieve. Make informed choices about which combination best serves your organisation’s aims. 2,  Operate strategically – Consider which digital channels you have the resources, particularly in staff or volunteers’ time, to exploit well. Don’t,…

By Sophie Mullen A founder partner of Go ON UK – the UK’s Digital Skills Alliance – Lloyds Bank UK has spelt out the ‘state of digital’ in Northern Ireland but it’s latest Business Digital Index makes grim reading. While Northern Ireland in many respects is becoming a leader in its own right in the digital sector, with technology giants making their home here, sadly the opposite seems to be true, according to this year’s Digital Skills Index, looking at SMEs and charities across the UK. It would be easy to mistake Northern Ireland as a digitally skilled nation. Belfast…

By Una Murphy: Images: Kevin Cooper, Photoline NUJ What can a former depressed, homeless, long haired drug dealer tell you about leadership? Paul Schmitz, now sporting a sharp hair cut, beard and natty smart bow tie, has the ear of US President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle. He is no longer a rebellious kid selling drugs to feed his addiction but the Chief Executive of Leading Inside Out and author of ‘Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up’. Mr Schmitz had come to Belfast to speak about building leadership ‘muscle’. It is not good enough, he said, to…

With innovation charity Nesta predicting that crowdfunding could be worth £4.7 billion to UK charities in 2016 and statutory funding stalling or being cut, digital communications consultant Harry Reid examines if it can be a potential lifesaving part of a voluntary organisation’s funding efforts Indiegogo sounded to me like a really bad Eurovision act the first time I came across the moniker about five years ago. Yet rather than a nul points scoring group of Norwegian would-be hipsters, checking it out online I discovered it was something called a crowdfunding platform that had been launched in 2008. Back…

By Barry Adams, Guest editor for VIEW’s Community Goes Digital issue Digital has become the buzzword of this decade. Everything has to be digital, and we all have to become digitally empowered citizens. Few people ever stop to think about what all this digital malarkey actually means. We’re so caught up in the hype surrounding digital technologies, we can’t see the wood from the trees. This is especially true in the community and voluntary sector. “We have to go digital!” some poor board member proclaims, having read an alarmist article in a publication about how lagging behind in digital is…

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