Belfast Telegraph

Stormont to ‘bridge gap’ with community sector

By Margaret Canning

A project that aims to bridge the gap between government and communities sector will be launched at Stormont today.

The three-year Vital Links programme will give free training, seminars, and conferences to councils, government departments and political parties, as well as voluntary and community organisations.

The project is being run by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), supported by the EU PEACE III programme.

Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of NICVA, said: “This three-year programme aims to encourage people working in communities to discover how government and politics work in Northern Ireland and how to make their voices heard.

“We also hope to build better understanding in government about the role of voluntary and community organisations and the vital work they do.

“We hope that the two working together will produce better outcomes for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

DUP MLA Simon Hamilton, chairman of the Social Development Committee which is co-sponsoring the launch, added: “The Vital Links Project is about bridging the gap between our democratic institutions and the voluntary and community sector.

“This is a very important task which will be of immense benefit to both MLAs and the voluntary and community sector.

“As chairman of the Social Development Committee, I am very pleased to support Vital Links — it is important that there is a greater understanding of the work that goes on, often in the background, at Stormont which is very much to the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Around 100 politicians and representatives from the voluntary and public sectors are expected to attend the launch.

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