The Policy Unit
seeks to facilitate and stimulate critical social policy debate in Northern
Ireland, thus contributing to more effective policy making. To this
end ARK organises regular Policy Roundtables that aim to engage policy
makers, practitioners and academics in a Chatam House Rule roundtable
discussion on key issues facing Northern Ireland. ARK's Policy
Briefs include a summary of research evidence and and the discussions
at the associated Policy Roundtables.
|7 October 2014
Collaborating Towards an Age-Friendly Northern Ireland
This joint ARK Ageing Programme – Linking Generations event was designed to spark ideas and promote thinking about what ‘age-friendly’ might mean in Northern Ireland, especially as we begin to embrace our own ageing population, and move towards the community planning that our new local councils will take over in 2015. The event was held in the Banqueting Hall of Belfast City Hall, and opened by Cllr Nichola Mallon, Lord Mayor of Belfast City Council.
The morning session involved presentations from a wide range of practitioners, who shared their experience, learning and challenges of intergenerational work. The keynote speaker was Nancy Henkin, Visiting Fellow of the ARK Ageing Programme. This was followed by a roundtable discussion session, facilitated by Ann Marie Gray of the ARK Policy Unit. The Policy Brief can be accessed here. Further details about the event, including presentations and publications, are available here.
|30 September 2014
Critical Urban Space
At this roundtable looking at Critical Urban Space, professionals, policy makers, NGOs and academics explored the ambition for place quality in Northern Ireland including the recognition of existing assets, the policy framework, procurement, implementation, and stewardship.
The OFMDFM's Together: Building a United Community is the Executive's Strategic Framework for building good relations across Northern Ireland society. The strategy outlines a range of actions and commitments across four strategic priorities, including Our Shared Community, which asserts that the maintenance and protection of shared space is a cross-cutting responsibility for the entire Northern Ireland Executive, other public bodies and civic society.
Participants explored the challenges and opportunities to work with communities to transform the most contentious public spaces, including temporary spatial interventions, such as 'meanwhile uses' for interface and other contested areas.
A Policy Brief providing background and highlighting the issues discussed at the event will be available on the ARK website soon.
|March 2013 and June 2014
Truth about Youth
Two policy roundtables brought together a range of stakeholders to take a critical look at the research and practice evidence on the causes and the impact of the negative stereotyping of young people and at initiatives which have successfully countered this. The aim of the roundtables was to stimulate debate about this issue and look at potential future actions to address the sources of stereotyping.
The first roundtable took place in March 2013 at YouthAction in Belfast and was chaired by Professor Sam McCready, Ulster University. Dr Siobhán McAlister (Queen’s University Belfast) and Professor Maurice Devlin (NUI Maynooth) provided a summary of research findings in their areas of work. They painted a graphic picture of the extent and impact of negative stereotyping and the relationship between negative stereotyping and discrimination. In the course of the discussion, participants addressed fundamental questions about the root causes of stereotyping including the link between negative stereotyping and inequality, whether negative stereotyping thrives in unequal societies and communities and the impact of conflict in Northern Ireland on how young people are perceived and portrayed. The event took place under Chatham House Rule. The Policy Brief can be accessed here.
The second roundtable on this issue took place in June 2014 at YouthAction in Belfast. This roundtable, chaired by Mandy McAuley from BBC Spotlight, focused on two areas of particular concern arising from the discussion at the previous roundtable: issues relating to policing and criminal justice, and how young people are portrayed in the media. This event brought together Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Youth Justice Agency and Policing Board personnel, as well as journalists and media experts, NGOs, policy makers and academic researchers in the area. Dr Jonny Byrne (Ulster University) and Dr Faith Gordon (Queen's University Belfast) outlined research findings from their respective areas of expertise – policing, and the media and young people. During a lively exchange of views, participants discussed a wide range of issues including how some young people can be celebrated in the media and others vilified, the robustness of existing Codes of Practice for Journalists and Newspapers, how the police perceive young people, and the factors underpinning this perception. The event took place under Chatham House Rule. The Policy Brief can be accessed here.
Orientation Strategy for Northern Ireland
Although much progress has been made towards achieving equality
in relation to sexual orientation over the last few decades, the
issues and disadvantages that affect the everyday lives and equality
of opportunity of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Northern
Ireland have not notably improved. Participants at this ARK round
table held in Belfast in July 2013 discussed the reasons for the
lack of progress and identified what would be required to ensure
the successful development and implementation of a sexual orientation
strategy. They agreed that top/down leadership is required with
Ministers being seen to accept and embrace a strategy. The roundtable
was chaired by Dirk Schubotz, Lecturer in Social Policy at Queen's University Belfast
and Director of the Young Life and Times Survey, and was conducted
under the Chatham House Rule. The Policy Brief can be accessed here.
|6 December 2012
Young people’s mental health (in collaboration
with Youth Action)
This roundtable event was organised by YouthAction Northern Ireland (YANI) and ARK, and focused on issues relating to young people’s mental health. Participants included officials from a number of government departments, Health Trusts, representatives from a range of NGOs, academics, and young people from YouthAction Northern Ireland’s Right Here Fermanagh project and Young Men Talking Project who opened the debate with a contribution on what they think is important for young people’s mental health. The event was conducted under the anonymity of reporting allowed under the Chatham House Rule to encourage open debate. The Policy Brief can be accessed here.
Reform in Northern Ireland: what are the implications for housing?
The Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland (2012) will have
significant consequences for the housing sector. At this ARK roundtable
held in Belfast, representatives from a range of organisations
including policy makers, housing providers, the Chartered Institute
of Housing, academia and NGOs discussed the real impact of reform.
Chaired by Professor Paddy Gray, School of the Built Environment
at the University of Ulster, participants questioned whether the
risks of welfare reform had been adequately assessed and how the
devolved administration could ensure that policy and legislation
takes into account the particular circumstances existing in Northern
Ireland. The event took place under Chatham House Rule. A copy
of the Policy Brief can be accessed here.
not in Education, Employment or Training (in collaboration
with Youth Action)
The economic downturn has further increased concerns about young
people. Young people have been disproportionately affected by
the recession and a growing number are not in employment, education
or training. This ARK roundtable was organised in partnership
with YouthAction NI. It brought together participants from a range
of statutory and voluntary organisations working with young people,
policy makers from a number of government departments, funding
bodies, academia and young people themselves. Issues discussed
included whether the education structure and organization of schools
in Northern Ireland exacerbate the problem and create barriers
to effective responses and what strategic and practical role should
the youth sector have in addressing the problems facing young
people not in employment, education or learning? The roundtable
was chaired by Ann Marie Gray, Director of the ARK Policy Unit
and was conducted under the Chatham House Rule. The Policy Brief
can be accessed here here.
of Social Care Policy in Northern Ireland
This is an issue which has gained increasing policy prominence
in the UK and internationally. The urgency of the debate has been
increased by concern about growing levels of unmet need and the
funding of long term care provision. In Northern Ireland there
has been less discussion of the direction of future policy. This
roundtable event looked at the challenges facing the social care
system in Northern Ireland and at policy priorities, including
in relation to the social care workforce. Participants included
representatives from the Department of Health, Social Services
and Public Safety, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, the
Patient Client Council, Age NI and care home providers. The roundtable
was conducted under the Chatham House Rule and was chaired by
Goretti Horgan, Deputy Director of the ARK Policy Unit and the
Policy Brief can be accessed here.
The Policy Brief can be accessed here
and Opportunities for Social Science Research in Northern Ireland
Click here for a description
of this roundtable