Latest Updates

The third sector: confidence, reinvigoration and recognition

2 Aug 2021 Ryan MillerSector Issues, Economy, Society, Covid-19, Post-pandemic recovery

Charities do lots of heavy lifting (photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash)

If we want to use the pandemic as a line in the sand, and to create a better society and economy during this period of great upheaval, the third sector needs to be more than an afterthought.

The cruelty and lunacy of cutting Universal Credit

30 Jul 2021 Nick GarbuttWelfare

The £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit planned for October will be the biggest overnight drop in the basic rate of social security since the foundation of the welfare state, according to analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  

Disability discrimination against children is “institutionalised” within NI’s education system

27 Jul 2021 Ryan MillerEducation, SEN, Equality

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

The Education Authority has acknowledged failures but it will have to prove that any reforms are genuine.

The RQIA: what went wrong

23 Jul 2021 Nick GarbuttHealth, Governance

Last June, during the most severe health crisis we have ever faced, the board of the Northern Ireland’s health and social care regulator, the RQIA resigned en masse.

Not all young people are Digital Natives

20 Jul 2021 Ryan MillerEquality, Social Policy, Education, Children and Young People

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Digital exclusion might not effect a huge proportion of children – albeit a lack of data makes it hard to be sure – but those who are excluded are at a massive disadvantage.

The pandemic made us £900 billion better off - but it's not all good news

15 Jul 2021 Nick GarbuttEconomy, Equality

Most of us have ended up wealthier as the result of the pandemic, according to research published this week.

Young people care about society – the Youth Assembly needs to give them a platform

5 Jul 2021 Ryan MillerDemocracy, Social Policy, Mental Health, Environment

Northern Ireland finally has its own Youth Assembly. Scope speaks with the NI Youth Forum about why this is so important, how it can boost youth engagement in the broadest sense – and improve local politics at the same time.

Let's think about the economy for once

2 Jul 2021 Nick GarbuttEconomy

The next decade will be critical for the economy which is why we cannot afford for our politicians to be blindsided by constitutional issues – no matter how important they might appear to be to some.

Why children need a Summer of Play

29 Jun 2021 Ryan MillerEducation, Play, Social Policy, Mental Health, Wellbeing

Play is in our nature – and it’s there for a reason. Scope speaks with PlayBoard NI CEO Jacqueline O’Loughlin about how children and young people need more support to explore themselves and the world around them.

Sausage wars leave bitter taste

25 Jun 2021 Nick GarbuttBrexit

The imbroglio of the Northern Ireland protocol has served to demonstrate just how important EU membership was to the peace process – and the scale of the instability we now face.

Caring is tough, lacks support – and can be lonely

23 Jun 2021 Ryan MillerHealth, Care, Social Care, Covid-19, Loneliness

Carers face so many challenges that some – such as loneliness – do not get the attention they deserve.

A new kind of living: NI gets its first co-housing community

17 Jun 2021 Nick GarbuttHousing, Communities

Northern Ireland’s first co-housing project was launched earlier this month on a 13 acre site on the outskirts of Portaferry, Co Down.

Tech, health and public spaces – NI has its own digital currency

16 Jun 2021 Ryan MillerHealth, Social Policy, Tech, Innovation, Sector Issues

App designer Stephen McPeake, Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl, and Justice Minister Naomi Long

A new public scheme is set to pay people to exercise more and use parks and greenways. Civic Dollars is hoping to take on several issues at once. The scheme might just do some good.

Let the children play

10 Jun 2021 Nick GarbuttEducation, Health

Experts are expressing increasing concern about the impact the pandemic has had on physical activity amongst children and we have more reasons for worry in Northern Ireland than elsewhere.  

Relationships and Sexuality Education should be standardised, comprehensive, more inclusive – and mandatory

8 Jun 2021 Ryan MillerEducation, Equality, Social Policy

Consent is in the dictionary - but it is vital for young people to discuss what it means

Northern Ireland gives educators a lot of leeway on RSE. Some local organisations say the system needs to be tightened to avoid failing children.

Education: why the first days of life are the most important of all

4 Jun 2021 Nick GarbuttEducation, Health

If we are to fix educational underachievement in Northern Ireland we are going to have to spend £49.7 million extra every year on children before they even get to school.

Child poverty and Northern Ireland's house of cards

1 Jun 2021 Ryan MillerPoverty, Equality, Child Poverty, Social Policy, Covid-19

Housing costs and poverty are inextricably linked (Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash)

Progress on child poverty has been slow. Between the pandemic and rising house prices, things could be about to get much worse.

Poverty, mental health and an unkind welfare state

27 May 2021 Nick GarbuttHealth, Mental Health, Welfare

A proper debate about the links between mental ill health and poverty and what needs to be done about it is overdue.

Covid-19 and women: a shrinking job market and a growing risk of violence at home

26 May 2021 Ryan MillerEquality, Economy, Domestic Abuse, Mental Health

Home is not a safe place for everyone (photo by Gus Ruballo on Unsplash)

For women, economic prospects and domestic abuse are interlinked. The pandemic is putting pressure on both.

Friends to all: the remarkable story of the Quakers in Ireland

21 May 2021 Nick GarbuttSector Issues, Faith Based Engagement

Last summer, just before the second wave of the pandemic struck, Shane Whelehan became chief executive of Quaker Service Northern Ireland.


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