Update on Chapter activity from the Next Chapter Coordinators

Thursday 06 December 2018

Update on Chapter activity from the Next Chapter Coordinators

Round-up from the ten Chapter Hubs across NI and the border counties of the ROI

Update from Fiona McCaffrey Jones,
Coordinator for Louth, Cavan and Monaghan Chapter Hubs

 

Photo: Participants from the Louth, Monaghan and Cavan Hubs, and Coordinator Fiona McCaffrey Jones (back row, on right), at REPRESENT Women's Ambassador Forum

“Since I started with The Next Chapter in early September, I have travelled the length and breadth of Cavan, Monaghan and Louth organising and attending Chapter meetings and attending Module One training with three enthusiastic and engaged groups of women.


Photo: Participants from Cavan Chapter Hub

Since September, the Cavan Chapter has met twice and Module One training has been completed.  On Thursday 8 November, Daniel Downey, Cavan PPN (Public Participation Network) met with the Chapter to outline the role of the PPNs and how the community and voluntary sector engages with the local authority and the means by which participants can put themselves forward for seats on boards such as Breffni Integrated Development, Local Link and Cavan Childcare Committee.


Photo: Participants from Monaghan Chapter Hub

The Monaghan Chapter has met twice since September and Module One training was completed in November. On Wednesday 7 November, Grace Sherry, Monaghan Volunteer Centre, met with the Monaghan Chapter to outline the role of the Volunteer Centre and gave practical and inspirational examples of successful volunteering which got the participants thinking about how they can become more active and engaged within their communities.  Module One training finished in November.  The Chapter will hit the ground running in January when they will meet Leona McDonald, Monaghan PPN, on Thursday 17 January, to learn about the role of the PPN and how the community and voluntary sector engages with the local authority and the means by which participants can put themselves forward for seats on boards such as Monaghan Integrated Development, Monaghan Childcare Committee and Local Link.


Photo: Training participants from Louth Chapter Hub

The Louth Chapter Hub has met twice since September and Module One training also finished in November.  I initially met with the Chapter in October and was delighted to meet such an engaged and diverse group of women.  The Chapter participants are keen to hit the ground running in 2019 and on Tuesday 8 January the Chapter will meet Mary Capplis, Louth PPN, and Grainne Berrill, Louth Volunteer Centre, to learn about the role of the PPN and how the community and voluntary sector engages with the local authority and the means by which participants can put themselves forward for seats on boards such as Louth Leader Partnership, the HSE and Louth Meath ETB.
 
As the local elections take place on 24 May 2019, the three Chapters will meet their female candidates, attend a County Council meeting, meet the social inclusion officers in each county as well as work hard on their community projects.”
 
 
Update from Alex De La Torre,
Coordinator for Mid Ulster, Enniskillen and Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh Chapter Hubs


Photo: Coordinator Alex De La Torre (third from the left) with delegates at REPRESENT Women's Ambassador Forum

“An average of 16 to 25 women attended each of the Chapter Hub meetings which take place once a month in Belfast, Magherafelt, and Enniskillen. During the meetings, women have had the opportunity to hear from female politicians and women in leadership positions who share with the group their personal journey into public life. Politicians such as Nichola Mallon MLA (SDLP), Claire Bailey MLA (Green Party) and Councillor Karen Douglas (Alliance), spoke at the Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh Hub meetings about the challenges and opportunities for female politicians in the Assembly; Councillor Anne Forde (DUP) gave a presentation at the Mid Ulster Hub about women and decision making at a council level in Magherafelt and Jemma Dolan MLA (Sinn Féin) joined us at the Enniskillen Chapter Hub recently. Women in positions of leadership in public appointment, such as Helen Ferguson from the Equality Commission and Human Rights Commission, have discussed with participants of the Mid Ulster Hub the process of applying for public appointments and the role of a commissioner.
 

Photo: Participants from Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh Chapter Hub

At the Chapter meetings, participants have also taken part in networking exercises where they share and learn about opportunities to develop their leadership skills and embark on a role in public life.  Public appointments and board membership opportunities are discussed at every meeting, as well as events and other activities and campaigns relevant to women.

The Chapter Hub meetings are also avenues for exercising decision making, discussion and reaching consensus.  During the Chapter meetings participants dedicate time to discuss and decide the focus for a community project. This includes agreeing a plan, administrating the budget and implementing the project. The Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh Chapter Hub has focused on a project to promote and enhance women’s leadership roles in society, while the participants of the Mid Ulster Chapter Hub are in the process of developing a women’s wellbeing programme to address women’s isolation while empowering women in rural areas in Mid Ulster.
 

Photo: Participants from Mid Ulster Chapter Hub

Some participants have the opportunity to take part in the capacity building training programme where women can learn about the role of women in peacebuilding and gain skills for political and public life engagement. Training commenced in September 2018. 
The Next Chapter programme also provides opportunities for women to take part in Public Policy consultations. Most recently, 16 participants of the Mid Ulster Hub contributed to the NI Equality Commission consultation as part of their work under the international convention on women’s equality and human rights (United Nations Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women).  


 Photo: Participants from Enniskillen Chapter Hub

As part of the Next Chapter Project, 19 participants from Mid Ulster, Enniskillen and Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh Chapter Hubs had the opportunity to attend the Women’s Ambassador Forum in October, where inspirational women provided deep insights into the role of women in leadership positions in the community, business and politics. This was also an opportunity for Chapter participants to meet women from other Chapter Hubs. There is still a whole year ahead for participants to continue the exciting journey towards becoming involved in politics and public life, while contributing to peace and reconciliation. In the coming months all participants will have the opportunity to engage with their Chapter Hub peers in a number of peace and reconciliation events. These will focus on examining the political systems in both the North and South, and sharing information about good practice, local hubs and community projects.”


Update from Mirjam Bader,
Interim Coordinator for Foyle, Co Donegal, Newry and Newtownabbey Chapter Hubs

 
"I’m delighted to tell you that Alice, the previous Coordinator, has taken a promotion at the Open University and I’m sure you will join me in wishing her every happiness for the future.
 
I’ve taken over the Chapter Hubs in Foyle, Co Donegal, Newry and Newtownabbey in the interim and we are currently recruiting for a new Coordinator to start in January. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting Chapter participants in Foyle, Co Donegal, Newry and Newtownabbey and I know that those of you who have attended recent meetings have been involved in a wide variety of activities. Some of you also travelled to Stormont to take part in the REPRESENT Women’s Ambassador Forum on 17 October.


Photo: Newtownabbey Chapter Hub participants together with invited guest Paula Bradley MLA (back row, second from left) and Next Chapter Project Manager Mirjam Bader (back row, far right)

Paula Bradley MLA and Chair of the NI Assembly Women’s Caucus joined us at the Newtownabbey Chapter Hub in October for a Q&A session. Participants were able to contribute a series of anonymous questions for Paula to answer and this led to an interesting discussion about a variety of issues including the role of women in the Assembly, UNESCO, peace and security, consent and respect and, of course, Brexit. The next meeting of the Newtownabbey Hub is due to take place on Friday 14 January.

At the Co Donegal Chapter Hub Next Chapter participants welcomed former Tanáiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Mary Coughlan, Cllr. Maire Therese Gallagher (Sinn Féin), Cllr. Niamh Kennedy (Independent) and one of our programme partners, Irish Rural Link, to their November meeting in Letterkenny for a discussion about how women can make a difference. At the next meeting, planned for Friday 14 December, Chapter participants will be working on their Community Project, followed by a ‘getting to know you better’ Christmas lunch.
 

Photo: Participants from Co Donegal Chapter Hub and special guests

Unfortunately, the Foyle Chapter was unable to meet in November and December due to a number of women being unable to make the date and time. The first job for the new Coordinator will be to contact all the existing members of that Chapter on an individual basis and discuss what would be a better arrangement for Chapter meetings. This will ensure participants are able to attend Chapter Hub meetings in the New Year. In the meantime Module One ‘Women as Champions of Peacebuilding’ has been delivered and one to one Coaching was launched last week. Module Two ‘Decision Making, Politics and Public Life’ is due to commence on 15 January. Please contact me if you would like to join the training programme at this stage.
 
Photo: Participants from Foyle Chapter Hub

At the Newry Chapter Hub we were joined by guests from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland who facilitated a session to feed into their response on a consultation run by the United Nations on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. During this meeting we also found out more about the extensive experience of Geraldine McGahey OBE, who was the Commissioner attending the consultation event, in local government. The next meeting of the Newry Chapter is planned for 12 December."


Photo: Participants from Newry Chapter Hub, together with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

For more information on individual Chapter Hubs and Training Schedules please click on the Chapter Hub Map or visit our website www.thenextchapter.eu

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