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Social Affairs magazine for community/voluntary sector Website:

Issue 17, 2013

VIEW WHY ARE OUR CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY? West Belfast, Derry and Strabane among the worst blackspots in the UK. See pages four and five

For FREE at

Twitter: @ViewforNI


VIEW, issue 17, 2013

Drug abuse


Sunflower night


Page 6 VIEW hears from community workers battling drug abuse in east Belfast following several deaths in the area

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Pages 12-13 Thank-you to all those at recent VIEW night in Sunflower bar – Conor Pelan (left) playing at the gig

Helping hand

Football boost

Page 8 An aid clinic has open its doors to people in Greece who are struggling to survive under the harsh austerity conditions

Pages 14-15 Women football players will give a boost to a Belfast crosscommunity enterprise when they play at Crusaders’ ground

Funds warning

Charity moves

Page 11 Voluntary groups should not become too dependent on “manna from heaven” says STEP co-ordinator Bernadette McAliskey, above

Page 20 Lawyer Jenny Ebbage, above, looks at the implications following the setting up of a charities body in the Republic of Ireland

PHoToLinE Photographer Kevin cooper has more than 25 years experience in Press and Pr photography. Kevin works to a wide range of clients in community and voluntary sector organisations as well as the trade union movement. For quoTaTions conTacT Kevin cooper E: T: 028 90777299 M: 07712044751


VIEW, the online publication for the community/voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.


n this issue we report on the shockingly high numbers of children in Northern Ireland who are growing up poor. A recent UK-wide survey by the Child Poverty Action Group showed almost 100,000 children here are in poverty – defined as having less than £12 a day to live on. With all the indications suggesting that Northern Ireland’s economy is trailing behind other UK regions, and the forthcoming welfare cuts, this shameful situation is likely to get worse. According to the study, west Belfast is the second worst child poverty blackspot in the UK, with 43% of children defined as poor. The proportions of deprived youngsters living in Derry and Strabane are almost as bad. Furthermore, having parents in work doesn’t always protect children from poverty. In the UK as a whole, 59% of poor children live in a home with at least one working

VIEW editor Lucy Gollogly adult.We speak to Anne Moore of Save the Children Northern Ireland, who argues that our low wage economy is harming children’s life chances. Save the Children is calling for the introduction of a living wage as one step towards alleviating child poverty. We also speak to the manager of a west Belfast

childcare centre, who sees firsthand the impact financial pressures are having on families and children. Derry is now more than half-way through its year as the UK’s inaugural City of Culture. With one of the biggest events – the All-Ireland Fleadh – coming up in August, we ask what the legacy will be in the north west. Journalist Una Murphy canvasses some opinions on whether the community and voluntary, arts and business sectors are seeing the benefits from City of Culture. Finally, with the Women’s Euro 2013 just finished in Sweden, the profile of women’s football is higher than ever, and the sport is really taking off in Northern Ireland. We hear how female players from Hungary and Ukraine will give a boost to a Belfast based cross-community social enterprise when they play in UEFA Women’s Champions League matches at Crusaders’ Seaview ground in August.


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We talk to Vilma Patterson, Chairman, Probation Board for Northern Ireland, about the challenges facing her organisation

The most effective way of preventing reoffending is to work with the individual to address the factors in their lives which contribute to crime

1. Describe the nature of your role I am Chairman of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI), an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) of the Department of Justice. I took up office on December 1, 2012. The Board is made up of 13 independently appointed members, and PBNI has over 420 employees. The Board is tasked with providing an adequate and efficient probation service and is responsible for determining its policy within the broad parameters set by Government and for monitoring the service’s performance against objectives. We provide assurance to the Minister on probation services and steer the strategic vision of the organisation. 2. What are the main challenges? Like everyone we are operating within a challenging financial environment with finite resources. The challenge is how to maintain the high performance of the organisation, to secure the resources to maintain a skilled workforce and adapt and innovate to become excellent and build on our successes. 3. As chair, how do you believe you will impact on reducing offending and making communities safer? I and the other Board members provide the strategic direction towards the acknowledged successful standards of supervision maintained by PBNI. It is this adherence to best practice and professional standards, the core of which is the Social Work qualification for probation officers which is regulated by the NI Social Care Council, which underpins PBNI’s success. I believe it is because of this that PBNI are able to demonstrate low reoffending rates and ultimately contribute to reducing the fear of crime. This week we are launching the consultation period for our new Corporate Plan 2014-17 – which is the blueprint for how we will do business over the next three years.

We are keen to hear from members of the public and the community and voluntary sectors about how probation can build on its achievements to date and continue to help prevent reoffending in Northern Ireland. 4. What advice would you give to people who are being released from prison and who are going back into economically disadvantaged communities? We recognise that most of the individuals we supervise will have issues related to their offending which may cause difficulty for them in reintegrating back into their own communities following a period in custody. PBNI seeks to rehabilitate offenders through programmes and engagement with probation staff whose expertise will aid their resettlement back into their communities. We hold offenders to account for their offending behaviour whilst recognising that the most effective way of preventing reoffending is working with the individual to address the factors in their lives which contribute to crime. The most common factors are drug/alcohol misuse, accommodation, mental and other ill health and unemployment, all of which can be exacerbated by societal disadvantage. 5. Are the support services adequate for offenders and what key steps would improve them? PBNI works in partnership with other statutory agencies within criminal justice, and commissions the community and voluntary sector through community grants to provide relevant programmes to address identified needs to aid rehabilitation. Probation officers work in partnership with a number of other support services based in the community which provide additional support such as hostel accommodation amongst others. 6. What kind of support should be

provided to the families of offenders? Probation’s method of working includes engagement with the offender in their own home and offenders are supervised in a holistic fashion. These are key factors crucial to our success. 7. What was it specifically about the job that led you to apply for it? I really believe in probation. The people in PBNI make communities safer by rehabilitating offenders and we can provide a public assurance that we are the best in the UK at preventing reoffending. The officers manage the risk of people reoffending every day with the belief that they deserve an opportunity to change. 8. What are the most rewarding aspects of your work? I am inspired by the probation staff I meet every day. They directly hold offenders to account and are dedicated to protecting the public and raising awareness about issues such as child protection and domestic violence. They make a real difference every day to individuals, families and society. It is also rewarding to hear the stories of people that probation has made a difference for those who have changed their lives and moved away from crime and, crucially, to hear from victims who have been helped by PBNI’s Victim Information Scheme. The feedback we receive is that victims get a real sense of justice from the acknowledgement of the offences committed against them and the explanation of the conditions of a probation order which will hold the offender to account. 9. How do you relax outside of work? I enjoy gardening and to relax I like traditional craft activities such as willow weaving, patchwork and crochet. Making time for family and friends is important to me and I particularly enjoy visiting museums and galleries.

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Many families are struggling to support their children. There is so much debt out there – it’s frightening

Lucy Gollogy looks at a recent report which showed that some parts of Northern Ireland suffer from shockingly high levels of child poverty


lmost 100,000 children are living below the poverty line in Northern Ireland – with west Belfast, Derry and Strabane among the worst child poverty blackspots in the UK. The figures were revealed recently in a report by the Child Poverty Action Group. The study measured the problem by council area and parliamentary constituency. It showed 43% of children in Belfast West are in poverty – the second highest rate of any UK parliamentary constituency after Manchester Central. When the figures are broken down at local authority level, Derry has the fourth highest level of child poverty in the UK at 35%. West Belfast comes has the fifth highest level (34%). Strabane is at number 14, with 32% of children affected. The study also revealed it cost Northern Ireland £1bn to deal with the consequences of child poverty, which was defined as families in which each person has

less than £12 a day to live on. The study showed the majority (59%) of poor children in the UK live in a household where at least one adult works. Anne Moore, policy and Assembly coordinator for Save the Children Northern Ireland, said: “That shows that the old mantra that work is the route out of poverty isn’t true – it has to be well paid, decent work.” Ms Moore said Save the Children was calling for the introduction of a living wage – defined by the Living Wage Foundation as £7.45 an hour outside London. “Instead of our government promoting Northern Ireland as a good place to invest because we don’t cost very much, they should be taking the lead in the public sector and paying a living wage, and encouraging the private sector to do so as well,” she said. Tracy Harrison is the manager of Small Wonders Childcare, a social economy

business owned by Shankill Women’s Centre. She said many parents were struggling to support their families. “A lot of them are doing a couple of different jobs just to try and break even. And there is so much debt out there – it’s frightening,” she said. Her outlook is gloomy, especially with the impending cuts to childcare subsidies and other benefits. “In this community, when parents start to lose their jobs, there are a lot of mental health problems, there is a lot of turning to drugs and alcohol – then there are suicides. “It becomes a vicious circle.” Les Allamby, the director of Law Centre (NI), said the welfare cuts already implemented in Britain had made things worse for families there. “Ensuring our welfare reform bill protects families both in and out of work is an essential first building block in tackling child poverty,” he said.

VIEW, issue 16, 2013


Almost 100,000 children are living below the poverty line in Northern Ireland – with west Belfast, Derry and Strabane among the worst child poverty blackspots in the UK

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Drug abuse and fear in east Belfast In the wake of the recent drugs deaths in the east of the city, VIEW talks to a number of people in the local community about their concerns about the growing problem among young people


lmost a year ago, an ambitious urban regeneration project intended to breathe life into the socially deprived inner city opened on the Newtownards Road. But inside the £21m Skainos building, community workers are still struggling with one of the most pernicious problems in east Belfast – drug abuse. Eight sudden deaths in Belfast and Coleraine which were linked to drugs have focused attention on the issue. Five of the victims are believed to have been young men from east Belfast. Mark Houston is the director the East Belfast Mission, which works with other community and voluntary groups to tackle the problem. “These people have died because drugs are being dealt quite openly in east Belfast and drug dealers seem to be working with impunity,” he said. He said he accepted people were afraid to take a stand against the drugs trade because of the involvement of individuals from loyalist paramilitary groups. “There is a culture of fear around speaking out against paramilitaries but speaking but anywhere in the UK against organised crime gangs dealing in drugs I’m sure is very difficult,” he said. Although the police say no single drug was to blame for the recent deaths, last week they renewed their warning about fake ecstasy pills known as ‘green Rolexes’ which contain the toxic chemicals PMA and PMMA. Community workers say a huge variety of drugs, including prescription drugs and so-called legal highs, are

There is a culture of fear around speaking out against the paramilitaries

being taken in the area. Michele Bryans confronts the reality of drug and alcohol misuse in east Belfast every day. She is the coordinator of East Belfast Alternatives’ Street by Street project, which tries to engage with young people. “Drug use is definitely the norm among groups of young people and often they don’t see it as an issue,” she said. Some of the children using drugs are shockingly young. “One night we came across an 11-year-old male who was visibly under the influence of drugs and alcohol. It was quite frightening.” Ms Bryans said the recent deaths do not seem to have put some young people off drug-taking. “We’ve had conversations with young people who say they’ll continue to take it and it’s a risk they’ll take, which is alarming.”

Practical advice and a sensitive personal approach. We pride ourselves on our unrivalled commitment to clients’ needs.

Edwards & Co. solicitors advises charities and the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland on a wide range of legal issues including charity creation, charitable status and constitutional matters, trading and commercial arrangements, employment law, finance, fundraising and property law, as well as dealing with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. Our team offers a full range of legal services including mediation, criminal law, clinical negligence and personal injury claims, as well as family/matrimonial work.

Contact Jenny and Teresa: Edwards & Co. Solicitors, 28 Hill Street, Belfast, BT1 2LA. Tel: (028) 9032 1863 Email: Web:

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People protesting in Greece about the effects of cutbacks which have ravaged the health system

I feel like an old workhorse who is simply being left to die As the debate about the financial state of the NHS continues to rage, VIEW publishes an edited extract from a recent BBC article which looked at how communities in Greece are coping with the effects of austerity and the setting up of a community clinic to aid people in desperation


he Greek health system is buckling under the strain of massive budget cuts, an expanding client list and worsening public health. A network of volunteerrun health clinics has emerged to help ease the burden. Giorgos Vichas is not someone with time on his hands. Middle-aged, with a head of thick black hair flecked with grey, he has a look of alert determination - but for a moment his gaze becomes wistful. “When I was studying to become a doctor what I really wanted to do was travel to places that needed voluntary workers,” he says. Eighteen months ago Dr Vichas co-founded the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko in Athens, for Greeks who found themselves in need without health insurance. "The crisis in Greece has caused a humanitarian crisis in terms of the health sector. I never imagined we would have to set up social clinics and work on a voluntary basis," he says. Like many European countries, Greek citizens pay for their healthcare by a system of

I never could have imagined we would have to set up social clinics

insurance, with contributions from employers, the state and the beneficiaries themselves. When someone loses their job, they lose their healthcare plan too. The state gives them a short period of grace, but then they're on their own and have to stump up the cash for treatment. When the “troika” of the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank agreed a €240bn (euro) rescue package for

Greece in 2011 the condition was that the Greek government should make tax system improvements, cut the public sector workforce and lower public spending to reduce its debt burden. What nobody had really properly considered is the impact of austerity measures. There are now around 40 community clinics operating across Greece. Dr Vichas's clinic has 9,500 patients on the books but with a nationwide unemployment increase of 20% since last year (215,735 people) the number of people flocking to the clinic is growing fast. Stamatis Govostis, a man in his late fifties, is in no doubt what would happen to him if it weren’t for Dr Vichas and his team of volunteers. “That's easy,” he says - his eyes watering with emotion. “I would be dead.” He says he feels like an old workhorse who, after working all his life as a waiter, is simply being left “to suffer and die”.

• The full BBC article can be read at



Learn media skills, soak up tips and hands-on learning from expert Media & IT practitioners Details Dates & times: August 15 9.30am – 4.30am October 17 9.30am – 4.30am There are more opportunities than even Location: VIEWdigital, Cromac before to spread the word about your Regeneration Initiative organisation; but it is important to work Ormeau Road/Donegall out a strategy to use social media. Louise Pass, Belfast. BT7 1DT Friel, an experienced IT consultant and Price: trainer, offers practical exercises and £99 – includes lunch and sound advice in this one-day workshop. refreshments Event capacity: 10 Social media strategy with Louise Friel

Details Dates & times: Sept 4, 9.30am - 4.30pm Location: This intensive one-day masterclass will VIEWdigital, Cromac teach you about the mechanics of TV Regeneration Initiative interviews. It’s tough getting in front of the Ormeau Road/Donegall TV camera but seasoned broadcast Pass, Belfast. BT7 1DT journalist and writer Julia Paul will be Price: giving a Broadcast Media Masterclass on £139 – includes lunch and how to get the best out of the experience refreshments with practical tips and exercises. Event capacity: 10 TV Interviews – Broadcast Media Workshop with Julia Paul

Shoot, Edit & Upload! with Willis McBriar and Louise Friel Learn to shoot, edit and upload video content to web and social media sites in a day. These hands-on, full-day and half-day masterclasses will teach you how to use cheap cameras and free (or nearly free) software to deliver you organisation’s message via Youtube or Vimeo and then publicise it using Facebook and Twitter

Details Dates & times: September 19, full-day; September 26, 9.30am 12.30pm: September 26, 1.30pm - 4.30pm October 3, 9.30am 12.30pm Location: VIEWdigital, Cromac Regeneration Initiative Ormeau Road/Donegall Pass, Belfast. BT7 1DT Price: £99/£89 – includes lunch and/or refreshments Event capacity:six to eight

Book now on telephone: 07528 367312 or send an Email to Visit for further information

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Comment Anna Visser, director of the Advocacy Initiative in the Republic of Ireland, replies to a recent article in the Irish Times which reported on criticisms about aspects of the voluntary sector in the State

Real democracy is about an engaged citizenry, forging what President Michael D Higgins, above, calls a ‘new Republic’

We needed to know what the decision makers thought of us A

recent article in The Irish Times – – talked about the negative perceptions some policy makers have of the community and voluntary sector. The article followed the launch of a ground breaking report ‘In Other Words’ which put community and voluntary organisations in the spotlight and looked at how they are perceived by those responsible for making and implementing policy. The aim of the report was to establish what policy makers really thought of the advocacy and lobbying work done by community and voluntary organisations, how they value it and what they think we can do better. On commissioning the report we knew it would raise challenges and accepted that with open arms. As a sector we are not naïve, we know that the work we do is not always perfect. What we needed to know was what decision-makers thought of us – good, bad and ugly. The report does have negatives. Policy makers question if our organisations are deeply connected to the realties on the ground, and if we consistently put the needs of these communities first. They are worried that the diversity of voices and organisations might undermine our impact, and that we face

Democracy is much more than ticking a box every five years

contradictions in being both service providers and government watchdogs. These are issues we worry about too, issues that the sector has been collectively trying to unpick through projects like The Advocacy Initiative. The sector is showing leadership, it wants to deal decisively with any truth behind these criticisms, and build relationships based on trust where these views are founded on misperceptions. Democracy is much more than ticking a box every five years. Real democracy is about an engaged citizenry, collectively forging what President Higgins calls a ‘new Republic’. The decision-makers we spoke to recognise the role of community and voluntary sector in making sure that the concept of ‘citizen’ is not limited to an elite section of Irish society. Across the 33 interviews conducted by

seven participant researchers, social justice advocacy was described as: “about mobilising the power of people who are excluded”, “speaking up for people who would probably otherwise wouldn’t have a voice”, “acting as the conscience of society”. These are the tasks that decision-makers assign to community and voluntary sector organisations. Representing the most excluded is an enormous responsibility, and we are grateful to those policy-makers who are prepared to help us reflect on how we can live up to it. The community and voluntary sector will continue to digest and learn these lessons. We would live in a better society if everyone engaged in this type of mature reflection. As John F. Kennedy famously put it “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.

• Anna Visser is Director of The

Advocacy Initiative. The Advocacy Initiative is a three-year community and voluntary sector project that promotes understanding, awareness and effectiveness of social justice advocacy in Ireland. The full report ‘In Other Words: Policy Makers’ Perceptions of Social Justice Advocacy’ is available to download at

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We never believed in manna from heaven

Bernadette McAliskey tells meeting that community sector should not become too dependent on government funding

Left to right: John McMullan, Bryson; Aidan Campbell, Rural Community Network; Seamus McAleavey, NICVA; Dr Neil Acheson, University of Ulster; Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust and Bernadette McAliskey, STEP

By Lucy Gollogly


ernadette McAliskey has said community and voluntary organisations should not become too dependent on “manna from heaven” in the form of government and other funding. Ms McAliskey was one of the speakers at the recent launch of a research paper by the University of Ulster’s Nick Acheson on the independence of the sector in Northern Ireland at NICVA earlier this month. The civil rights campaigner and former MP is now the coordinator of STEP, a not-for-profit community development organisation based in Dungannon. It receives no core government funding. She said they concentrated on small scale, grass roots projects. “We never believed in the manna from heaven. We always believed that he who paid the piper ultimately, in whatever way he did it, called the tune, for he took the pipes away,” she said. Ms McAliskey said European peace fund money had led to some good work in Northern Ireland, but that it had distorted the aims of some organisations. “(The European peace funds) may well be remembered on reflection historically as the instrumentalisation, co-optation and seduction of independent action around specific frameworks. I think if we look back strategically,

the swamping of community work and grass roots organisations with significant amounts of money to behave themselves in a manner that was predetermined by somebody else, I think is a major distortion.” Jenny Ebbage, partner at Edwards and Co solicitors, said that independence must be a defining characteristic of any charity, especially in light of the requirements of the forthcoming Charities Act. “What I see is people drifting into social enterprise and drifting into taking on contracts that really are stretching their charitable purposes to the nth degree if not breaching them, in the desperation to keep their organisation alive,” she said. “I do think - and it’s a very personal view – that there are a number of organisations that are really compromising themselves and blurring those lines and failing their beneficiaries, because they are ending up becoming an agent of a funder because that’s all they can do to survive.” Nigel McKinney of the Building Change Trust, which hosted the event, said: “There has been a big shift in how the sector is funded in recent years away from grants and towards contracting. “The challenge is not only to consider the implications but more importantly set out what can be done to preserve and develop independence in this context.”

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VIEW recently hosted a night at the Sunflower bar in Union Street, Belf and guests. Clockwise from left; Valentina Mango; Clare Leftfield Mc Wi Hudson, left, and Moya Murphy; and VIEW co-founders Una Murphy and

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fast, to build support for the magazine. We would like to thank all those who took part at the event, including the musicians illiams; Calvero; Sean Doone, Conor Pelan; Kevin Cooper, left, George Dorrian and Glynn Roberts; prize-winners Caitriona d Brian Pelan Images: Brian Pelan; Kevin Cooper

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Report: Una Murphy Images: Kevin Cooper

Bend it like the women at Crusaders B

END it like Beckham helped put women’s football on the map. A decade after the film the sport is one of fastest growing in the world. Women football players will be giving a boost to a Belfast based cross-community social enterprise when they play at Crusaders’ Seaview ground in August. Teams from Hungry and Ukraine are among top flight players who are taking part in UEFA championship matches when they take on teams from Ireland, north and south on Seaview’s all-weather pitch. Players like international and Crusaders Strikers’ Clare Carson will be taking part. Clare and her team-mates volunteer to train young girls interested in football. “We help out at cross-community fun days for girls”, she said. “International women footballers from places like Hungry, where they are all full-time players, will give a boost to the game locally”, she said. The women were training under the watchful eye of Sara Booth, the IFA Women’s Domestic Football manager and Stephen Calvert, the

Crusaders Strikers’ manager, when I went to meet them. Stephen said: “Our programme is starting to pay off with international success for our youth teams in the last five years.” The ground is also home turf for Seaview Enterprises cross-community project which was set up with Crusaders and Newington youth club and is based on Barcelona’s ‘Mes que un club’ – More than a Club. Their goal is to tackle community divisions in north Belfast through sport as well as build a new stadium complex on the city’s north foreshore. “We have developed a unique programme to get women into sport as well as gays and lesbians and ethnic minorities”, Bernard Thompson, Project Manager of Seaview Enterprises said. “We put people through different qualifications and then they volunteer their time back into the community again”. He added: “Hosting UEFA women’s championship football is a big occasion and one Crusaders is going to relish.”

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What do you think about the Year of Culture? WHAT has Derry’s 2013 City of Culture done for the community and voluntary sector? The local council is publishing a draft Legacy Plan and has asked people to submit their views. The public consultation will close at the end of September. A conference was held in Derry in July to share views on how the City of Culture Amanda Doherty has been of benefit to arts, business and the community and voluntary sector. Derry City Council said it is: “committed to delivering change to those most disadvantaged in our communities.” VIEW asked some community and voluntary groups for their thoughts about Derry’s City of Culture year. Marie Brown, Director of Foyle Women’s Aid, said she is still waiting for a response from the City of Culture team about a proposal on tackling the culture of domestic violence in the city. She would also like City of Culture to mark the opening of a project, for women who have suffered domestic violence, in October. “Personally, I think it is great to see the city with a bit more buzz about it but more could been done through linking in with vulnerable groups. We have tried to get involved and have put in a proposal about the culture of domestic violence but we’ve had no response yet,” she said. “In terms of legacy, it depends on what you are talking about. There should be an economic legacy in terms of jobs and I would like to know what the plan will be after the City of Culture is over.” SHINE is Europe’s largest organisation dedicated to supporting individuals and families as they face the challenges arising from spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Northern Ireland Director Cathy McKillop said so far the City of Culture has been a brilliant experience for members. “The City of Culture has been fabulous for us.” Amanda Doherty, a freelance actor, set up a community organisation Actors Gymnasium last year. She feels more could be done to done to nurture local talent. “My key worry regarding legacy would be the huge portions of the budget devoted to outside companies which will leave just as soon as the money does. Not only does this mean the companies awarded key projects for the City of Culture year will not be here from next year onwards but those who are based in the city may face reduced motivation for their continuing efforts having been second or third best at a year when it is most critical to add to the local voice of the cultural community.” Tell VIEW what you think about the City of Culture and the legacy to the community and voluntary sector in the North West? Email:

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The Big Picture Employers For Childcare Charitable Group are asking every parent in Northern Ireland to share their experiences of childcare by completing the Childcare Cost Survey 2013. Whether you are a parent that looks after your children yourself, uses childminders, day nurseries, after-school clubs, grandparents, siblings or a mix of all of the above.Go to to complete the survey now. If you would like your community/ voluntary organisation to be selected for The Big Picture in the next issue of VIEW, send images, marked ‘Big Picture entry’ to

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It’s time to apply for social awards APPLICATIONS for this year’s Social Enterprise Awards are now open. Northern Ireland has won the main award for ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ for the last two years and is looking for its third overall UK winner. The awards reward and showcase the very best of social enterprise. The winners will go forward to the UK finals in London on November 27. This year there will be 10 main award categories open to social enterprises, as well as categories open to supporters and investors of social enterprise. The closing date for applications is Tuesday, August 6.Visit for more details on how to apply.

Bid to get more women on air BBC Expert Women’s Day Northern Ireland is looking for women with recognized expertise in areas including politics, business, law, medicine and money matters. A broadcast training and networking event is being held on Wednesday, September 18, at BBC Northern Ireland, Blackstaff House, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast. This free event follows highly acclaimed Expert Women’s Days in London and Salford, which trained specialists who have gone on to make appearances on Channel 4, CNN, BBC News 24 and Radio 4’s Today programme. For more information on how to apply for the event go to

India dentist Savita Halappanavar who died in October last year after being refused an emergency abortion at Galway University hospital

Poorer women ‘likely to bear the brunt of new abortion law in Republic’ By Lucy Gollogly


oorer women are likely to bear the brunt of the Republic’s new law on abortion, the National Women’s Council of Ireland has warned. The council, which represents 160 voluntary groups, said that the conditions placed on women were so onerous that those who could afford to would continue to travel to access abortion services. An estimated 5,000 women from the Republic and Northern Ireland travelled to Britain for abortions last year. The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill allows for abortions where there is a “real and substantial” risk to the life (as distinct from the health) of the woman from physical illness or suicide. There is no provision for victims of rape, incest or in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. The bill was passed by the Seanad (upper house) last week. It could still be referred to the Supreme Court in the coming days. Jacqueline Healy, women’s health and human rights worker at the National Women’s Council of Ireland, said they were “very disappointed” with the bill. “There is a slight improvement in that there is legal clarity in emergency situations

but in the other situations we feel that women are going to get on a plane and go abroad – they’re just going to do what they’ve always done. “I think the people who will probably try the legislation most will be people who can’t afford that journey. So that is where it will be tested and played out.” She added: “It was always going to be a political compromise and that political compromise is compromising women’s access to reproductive health.” In Northern Ireland, consultation on draft guidelines to clarify the law on abortion for health professionals has just ended. Earlier this month the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said they could fall foul of European law on a number of grounds, including the right to information. Emma Campbell is vice chair of Alliance for Choice Belfast. She said the attitude of politicians north and south is out of step with public opinion. “Even though we are supposed to be a democracy, they are using religion to make policy,” she said. She added: “Every time a woman has to leave Northern Ireland or Ireland to go to England for an abortion she is being rejected as a citizen. I think it’s disgraceful.”

Human rights issues debated AMNESTY International’s annual journalist panel and Q&A event returns on Monday, August 5, at noon at St Mary’s University College, Falls Road, Belfast. The free event discusses current human rights issues being debated in the press and the importance of investigative journalism in reporting on stories that would otherwise remain untold. The speakers are ex-BBC Spotlight reporter Kevin Magee, Barry McCaffrey of The Detail and Allison Morris of the Irish News.

A visionary idea to help Africa AN initiative to recycle old or unwanted pairs of glasses is helping people as far afield as Africa and India. Belfast City Council is backing a Belfast Lions Club initiative to send old pairs of glasses to eye camps in developing countries and Eastern Europe. Belfast Lions are co-operating with the charity Extern and social enterprise ArtsEkta on the project. To donate used glasses, place them in the blue bins in the council’s four main recycling centres in Belfast.

Black Moon night in west Belfast Black Moon – the club night set up by and run for people with learning difficulties in Belfast’s Black Box - will be holding a Wild West-themed night of dancing and entertainment as part of this year’s west Belfast festival (Féile an Phobail).‘Black Moon Goes Wild West’ takes place on August 6 at the Devenish Complex on Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

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Comment Michael Lynch, the director of Men’s Action Network, looks back at an event, that his charity was involved in, which was aimed at trying to get men to take the issue of their health seriously

Do we enjoy popularising the pejorative ‘banter’ that relegates men’s health to an apparent joke? For example, Man flu/Men flu

Men today die at least five years younger than women and they complete suicide four times as often


or the last 19 years I have worked with a charity called Men’s Action Network (MAN) as Director, supporting and promoting men’s health and wellbeing. While my main job is creating ‘safe spaces’ to hear and support the life experiences of men I am also involved, along with a lot of other very passionate and committed people, in identifying the key concerns relating to male health, promoting a wider understanding of these issues and tackling the impact of this inequality. Each year in the week prior to ‘Father’s Day’, (always the third Sunday in June), the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI),, identifies a core theme and helps facilitate Men’s Health Week. Many individuals, organisations and agencies focus on and deliver men’s health events right across Ireland and beyond. The two starkest statistics in men’s health are that men die at least five years younger than women and also complete suicide four times as often.You may well see it will take an enormous focus and commitment on men’s health to address the myriad of factors which influence

these figures. One initiative aiming to do this is the Men’s Policy Forum (MPF) currently meeting at and supported by NICVA. The MPF’s remit is to champion the plethora of socio-economic issues that impact men and lobby at a local, regional and governmental level accordingly. To support Men’s Health Week, the MHF facilitated an event at NICVA to showcase work already being done in this area, and it was hearting to see the strides that are being made. A summary of these issues was offered by Gerry Skelton (MPF member and Lecturer at Belfast Met), namely: • Men are co--creators of their health and well being and need to take responsibility for it • Men’s ill health, higher mortality rates (death by over/under work, self harm, suicide, etc), is not inevitable and men are worth saving • Men’s health and well being is often not taken seriously enough by men, society, service providers, policymakers, media, etc • There is a dearth of services dedicated to addressing men’s issues generally and men’s health specifically

• For those like the Forum wishing to have an

impact on men’s health it’s important to know what matters. • Our response to others matters. Self--responsibility matters • Our decision to be well informed ––or uninformed about Men’s health matters • The signals we give out matters: Do we communicate unwarranted judgement? Do we enjoy popularising the pejorative ‘banter’ that relegates men’s health to an apparent joke. For example, ‘Man flu/Men flu. In many ways our attitude regarding men’s health is central to how we choose to behave towards it Looking back on the events of the week, too numerous to mention, I think that it was important that we celebrated and validated the work being done around men’s health, because it is within collectives such as the Men’s Policy Forum that awareness is raised and support given to the life experiences, needs and wellbeing of men.

•To find out more about the forum go to

VIEW, issue 17, 2013


Page 20

Living in a parallel charity universe Jenny Ebbage, senior partner at Edwards and Co solicitors in Belfast

By Jenny Ebbage


here has been recent movement in the establishment of an independent Charities Regulatory Authority in the Republic of Ireland which will come into operation next year. This could have implications for charities operating throughout the island of Ireland. For example, if a Northern Ireland charity carries out activities or occupies land in the Republic of Ireland then it will be subject to the Irish Charities Act 2009 and may have to register with the Irish Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA). Under Irish charity law it will be an offence for a body which is not registered with the CRA as a charity in the Republic to hold itself out as a charity. The Northern Ireland charity will not need to register if it can show that it is established under the law of Northern Ireland; is entitled under that law to be described as a charity or charitable organisation; its centre of management and control is outside of the Republic of Ireland; it doesn’t occupy any land or carry on any activities in the Republic of Ireland; and its literature and other published material contains a statement setting out its place of establishment in Northern Ireland.

At the moment there is no clarity about what occupation of land means so it could cover a mere licence of a property. There is no clarity on what carrying on activities entails but this could cover administration, fundraising events for beneficiaries or even a relationship with another charity in the Republic. There is no “halfway house” kind of registration like the Section 167 Institutions registration proposed for non-Northern Ireland charities operating in Northern Ireland so it’s either a full registration with the CRA or nothing. Unlike Northern Ireland, all the charities that are “deemed” i.e. those who have an entitlement to tax relief from the Irish Revenue Commissioners and a CHY number will be automatically registered in the Republic of Ireland. So registration will be immediate but subject to a review process.It is worth noting that some of the charitable purposes in the Republic of Ireland laws are different from Northern Ireland. For example, amateur sport is not a charitable purpose although other provisions apply to sports organisations. There is also no human rights or advanced of equality charitable purpose in the Republic of Ireland and the advancement of religion has a different meaning.

There is no designated religious charity status in Ireland either. There is however a retention of a statutory presumption that a gift to advance religion is of public benefit and this is different from Northern Ireland. There will also be an annual registration fee charged for registration with the CRA and there are different accounting thresholds likely to apply to financial statements. All accounts are to be on an accrual basis so this could be different from the accounts requirements for charities in Northern Ireland The statement of accounts has to be submitted to the CRA if the gross income is over €10,000.00 and the charity is not otherwise exempt. There will be an annual report to be filed. Northern Ireland Charities which are active in the Republic of Ireland or which have property interests there should consider an application for CHY status now with the Irish Revenue Commissioners if they have not already done so.

• I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Oonagh Breen, School of Law University College, Dublin, in providing some of the materials for this item.

View 17  

Voluntary/community magazine for Northern Ireland

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