Latest Updates

Holiday camps can tackle holiday hunger and be educational – but there is room to improve

12 Jan 2021 Ryan MillerEquality, Holiday Hunger, Education

Marcus Rashford MBE relied on free school meals - and has done pretty well in life

Feeding hungry children should be uncontroversial. Combining this with activities to develop skills and knowledge sounds like a good idea – and work involving Children in NI shows promise.

Belfast's links to slavery: a shameful legacy

8 Jan 2021 Nick Garbutthistory, Social Issues

In the past few months there have been a series of controversies as historians and researchers have exposed links between historic buildings, monuments and slavery.

Human Rights and Covid-19

7 Jan 2021 Ryan MillerHuman Rights, Education, Equality, Children and Young People

Human Rights Commissioner Les Allamby

The NI Human Rights Commissioner’s latest Annual Statement looks at 2020, the pandemic, and any progress – or not – in the wider rights picture for NI, where children appear to be second-class citizens.

How to train the workforce for the future

18 Dec 2020 Nick GarbuttEconomy

If we are going to build a strong economy in Northern Ireland post pandemic and Brexit we are going to need to have the right workforce to power it.

Stormont should take on loneliness in 2021

14 Dec 2020 Ryan MillerLoneliness, Health and Wellbeing, Health, Mental Health

Covid-19 may have increased loneliness - but loneliness was an issue before the pandemic and, without reform, will remain one even as society returns to normal or something very like it.

The "Wicked Problem" that remains unsolved

11 Dec 2020 Nick GarbuttEducation

England has a severe teaching crisis. For the past seven years it has failed to meet its recruitment targets for new teachers. Its training colleges can only supply 85% of those required for secondary schools.

Transfer tests headed for crunch time

7 Dec 2020 Ryan MillerEducation, Equality, Covid-19, Social Policy, Academic Selection, Transfer Tests

Prof Siobhan O'Neill with Health Minister Robin Swann

Calls to cancel this year’s post-primary transfer tests continue to mount – and the list of barriers to a fair testing process is growing. The Education Minister is gambling on everything going smoothly.

Important lessons from a traumatic year

4 Dec 2020 Nick GarbuttCovid 19 Response

The vaccination programme marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic just as the shortening days herald the end of what has been an unforgettably traumatic year.

Covid-19 has highlighted NI’s lack of support for childcare

2 Dec 2020 Ryan MillerChildcare, Economy, Equality, Sector Issues, Social Policy

Photo by Marcus Spiske on Unsplash

The pandemic has shown once more how important childcare is to many families in Northern Ireland – and why proper help from Stormont is essential.

Pre-school segregation

27 Nov 2020 Nick GarbuttEducation

Stormont’s Education Chair Chris Lyttle said this week: “For an education system to separate children as young as five on the basis of community and religious background is socially and financially flawed.” That’s just the half of it.

The Right to a Home

27 Nov 2020 Nick GarbuttHousing

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín explains her plans to revitalise the Housing Executive. 

Westminster needs to prioritise replacing EU funding

24 Nov 2020 Ryan MillerFunding, Fundraising, Sector Issues, Social Policy, Brexit

Northern Ireland has done pretty well from structural funding (graph from the Institute for Government)

The delay – or complete absence – of a consultation on the planned UK Shared Prosperity Fund is not encouraging. Perhaps this week will bring some news.

Paramilitaries and the pandemic

20 Nov 2020 Nick GarbuttJustice, Social Policy

Here’s a question you thought no-one would ever ask. What impact has the pandemic had on paramilitaries?

To tackle bullying, we must understand it

17 Nov 2020 Ryan MillerBullying, Mental Health, Young People, Children, Education

More than half of young people in Northern Ireland say they have been bullied in the past six months, according to research from the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum.

How social housing can put wealth back into local communities

13 Nov 2020 Nick GarbuttHousing

In all the excitement that surrounded the announcement of a new housing policy last week, it is important not to forget the enormous role played by Housing Associations in Northern Ireland.

Covid-19 support again puts charities in a bind

10 Nov 2020 Ryan MillerFundraising, Covid-19, Sector Issues

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Throughout the pandemic, Westminster has not responded to the needs of community and voluntary organisations or the people they serve. That needs to change.

Housing policy prompts Stormont love-in

6 Nov 2020 Nick GarbuttHousing, Social Policy

We’ve become used to American politicians coming over to Northern Ireland to show us how to run a democracy.

Pandemic transfer test debate lacks a resolution

3 Nov 2020 Ryan MillerEducation, Covid-19, Social Policy, Equality

Education Minister Peter Weir

Even if the transfer test goes ahead, it might cause more problems than it prevents for an Education Minister who is wholly committed to academic selection.

Jobs, jobs, jobs: a hard winter beckons

30 Oct 2020 Nick GarbuttEconomy

One of the biggest problems in dealing with the economic aspects of the pandemic is that the statistics we need to shape responses are not available in time to make the right decisions.

The more we know about mental health, the better

28 Oct 2020 Ryan MillerMental Health, Children and Young People, Social Policy

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

New research into the general mental health of young people in NI could be transformative for policy makers - and for community and voluntary organisations providing services to local children.


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