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Overriding Themes

Throughout the course of the Community Relations Practice Research (CRPR) project many different topic areas relevant to community relations practice in Northern Ireland were examined. As the project progressed it became apparent that certain points where being raised that were applicable to more than one of the subject areas.

  • It has been raised throughout all phases of the CRPR project that there is a need for improved relations between all stakeholder levels of community relations practice in Northern Ireland. Lines of communication have to be created where there is a deficit, and reinforced where existing channels have not maximised benefit.
  • Practitioners have highlighted the benefits to be gained from increased networking within the community relations and local council relationship. The District Council Community Relations Programme (DCCRP) has created the structures for CR issues to be raised within councils, through the appointment of Community Relations Officers (CRO’s). Networking must not only take place between CRO and CR participant but also between CRO, line managers and other council departments. CR practitioners who took part in the CRPR project have also highlighted the high quality of support they have received from their local CRO.
  • Many project participants have also highlighted the high levels of expectation that CR practitioners have attached to the establishment of the Training and Learning Consortium. It is clear that many of these expectations were not realistic, especially in the short-term.
  • Stakeholder/community consultation has been stated as one of the priority elements of successful community relations practice. Practitioners stated that not only is this a means of networking, but that this approach also acts as a form of resource friendly, in-house training. Stakeholder/community consultation has also been raised as a means of creating a sense of trust between practitioners and participants within a given community.
  • Many project participants have stated that they feel there is a language barrier between policy maker, funder and practitioner. Practitioners have pointed out that they can feel isolated within the evaluation and funding procedures currently in use. During the workshop phase of the CRPR project the point was raised that communication between all levels of the CR process must be in ‘plain English’, especially within evaluation, monitoring and funding application procedures.
  • Practitioners have stated that they need to be able to access the material that arises from research they have taken part in. It has been suggested that opportunities to interact in a post research environment have to be created between all stakeholder levels of the CR process.

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