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"It was delivered by people who were doing it out of commitment and experience not because they had a qualification in training."

"It is no good simply bringing in training, training has to follow the development of a specific goal or a statement."

"One of the main problems with this is that there have been some organisations offering training that have not really changed their approach over the years."

"Training can also lose its effectiveness if the person that is being trained returns to a line manager who has not been taking place in this activity …"

"[T&LC]….It will take time to build effective partnerships but the long term benefits should be tremendous. I’ve been in the business of community relations training for over eight years now and this is by far the most important development to date."

Training and Community Relations Practice

"I have used my networks in the past, local activists and the community as a means of training, and in a way we have been learning from our mistakes."

This section deals with the issues raised throughout this research dealing specifically with the amount and quality of community relations training currently available in Northern Ireland. This section raised much debate at the workshop phase of the project and although the area is currently receiving attention by the Community Relations Training and Learning Consortium practitioners still feel that training has not received as much attention as other elements of community relations work. Stakeholders in the training process not only feel that they need to be able to avail of such services but also that they need support from management on these issues. This section will also offer contact details of current training providers and relevant university ( (external_link) and further education courses.

The general consensus concerning training was that it is about empowering others to take ownership of a particular CR project and the creation of confidence so that the participant can return to his/her group and share what they have learned. It was also stated that initiatives in this area should not concentrate solely on cross community issues but should also deal with issues effecting the disabled, elderly, ethnic minorities and all of the constituent parts of our community. Many of the participants highlighted the view that sharing experiences in CR contributes directly to the development of a given group.

Another area highlighted by practitioners related to the language being used within training initiatives. Participants stated that the wrong language serves only to erect barriers between provider and participant, suggestions were made around the idea that a re-evaluation of the ‘packaging’ of training initiatives was needed. It was agreed that approaching the community with a view to educating them was the wrong attitude to take and could be perceived as a patronising approach towards bettering relationships between communities. This again highlights the need to employ suitable language in this area. This would not only benefit practitioners but would also improve how CR initiatives were received within the community they are aimed at.

The question was also raised whether or not this process should be titled a learning experience as well as a training one. This is something that might indicate that a re-examination of the relationship between trainer and participant is needed. It was suggested by participants that the Training and Learning Consortium (T&LC) could best address these issues by the employment of in-depth consultation with all stakeholders involved in this process. These principles have already been employed by the T&LC through the distribution of an in-depth questionnaire to gauge stakeholder opinion on the issue of training and CR in Northern Ireland.

One of the areas that practitioners have expressed their dissatisfaction with is the fact that they are often approached to help with research into the various areas of CR work but are very rarely presented with the findings. A general improvement in the quality of communication between all stakeholder levels of community relations in Northern Ireland has been recommended.

In order to create a better understanding between all the composite elements of CR Training it was suggested that there should be a form of back to basics training initiative where all stakeholders in this process had the opportunity to share the experiences of all contributory members. Recommendations can only be of benefit if they are realistic and hands-on training initiatives would create the opportunity to understand the pressures that stakeholders are under at all levels of this process.

Particularly relevant to training is the fact that practitioners feel that participants should be engaged in the process of CR through greater consultation policies. Questions such as ‘are participants happy with the content of training initiatives' have to be asked and recommendations must be followed up by actions.

In answer to this impediment it was agreed that lines of communication must be extended and dissemination and feedback of research should be made more accessible to practitioners. This could be done through the medium of the Internet or through the general publication of research findings. It was also thought that the CRTLC could address the issues of training, community consultation, needs assessment and specifically tailored training initiatives.

When dealing with the issue of mainstreaming CR Training into both the public and private sectors it was suggested that CR principles should be integrated into all aspect of workplace training. Within district councils, it was suggested that multilevel CR training would be of benefit to the Community Relations Officers who have stated that they often work within an atmosphere unfamiliar with the principles of CR work.

Within the educational system it was suggested that there should be modules that deal directly with CR issues built into the PGCE/teacher training programme. The University of Ulster also offers courses on community relations and related issues (external_link) also see CR courses below.

At a political level it was suggested that CR principles should be integrated into the new equality agenda.

The Training and Learning Consortium
September 1999 saw the launch of a major new initiative aimed at supporting the development of community relations training in Northern Ireland. The Training and Learning Consortium (T&LC) is funded by the Community Relations Council through the European Community’s Peace and Reconciliation Programme (ESSPPR) and is managed by a Board elected annually by the Consortium membership. For a list of current membership please refer to CRC News, ( (external_link) September 1999, available from the CRC’s Information Centre, 21 College Square East, Belfast.

The Consortium is a large partnership of around 50 organisations and individuals who are actively involved in assisting community relations learning work, establishing quality principles and promoting best practice. With the aid of its newly appointed Co-ordinator, Elaine Rowan, the Consortium hopes to assist networking within the community relations field and across other sectors in a way that will enhance working practice. It also hopes to develop learning materials and influence policy and decision-making processes on community relations training issues.

"The Consortium with its broad membership base and core ethos of working in partnership will go a long way towards addressing the lack of co-ordination amongst the various community relations training initiatives….It will take time to build effective partnerships but the long term benefits should be tremendous. I’ve been in the business of community relations training for over eight years now and this is by far the most important development to date."

Colin Neilands
WEA Interface Project

* Information concerning the T&LC will be updated regularly

Training Issues and Community Relations

  • There is a great need for training structures within CR activity to be re-examined, and recommendations acted upon. Focus was placed on consultation processes involving those wishing to be trained.
  • Language used in ‘selling’ training to an audience is of paramount importance, there can be some resistance to initiatives when they have community relations in the title, and some thought the term CR ‘Training’ needed rephrasing.
  • It was thought that entering a community with a view to educating them was seen as patronising and detrimental to the implementation of CR initiatives within that area. Consultation at all levels could counter this impediment and create the opportunity for two-way learning approaches which would be of great benefit.
  • Training is about empowerment and participants have stated that once this is realised the target audience can progress from initiatives dealing with social and basic skills to more advanced accredited training.
  • There should be clarification of CR and its objectives before undertaking any new initiatives, it is thought that this would address any fears concerning ‘hidden agendas’.
  • CR practitioners in Northern Ireland already carry invaluable experience, due to this it was suggested that training initiatives should be classified as learning opportunities, the sharing of experience rather than taught courses.
  • There have been more opportunities in the past for CR practitioners to learn from each other than there have been quality training sessions.
  • Rather than practitioners traveling to providers for training courses it was suggested that the training providers could become more mobile, therefore cutting down resource implications for groups.
  • Training that has been relevant in the past to CRO’s has lost its effectiveness if they return to line managers who have not been trained in the same areas. Parallel training initiatives within councils would be of particular benefit to CRO’s.
  • Better relationships between academic and practitioner would benefit training. Participants thought that there was an ‘us and them’ relationship developing and that generally academics where unwilling to engage with them in CR activities.
  • If there is a particular need within a community e.g., business start-up, adult education, job skills, then it might be worth incorporating some CR principles within existing training structures.
  • Head counts should not be an indicator of success in a funding context. Funders should examine qualitative means when allocating funding, and evaluating projects.
  • There needs to be more in-depth needs analysis of geographic areas, the needs of the people in the Falls may well be different from those in the Shankill. Local practitioners and group participants should be involved in this process.
  • When funders evaluate training initiatives there is the feeling that they are told what they want to hear. Funders should become familiar with what its like on the ground which will create a greater understanding of practitioners experiences and blockages.

Funders have an obligation to feed back information to the funded, both are working for the same goals and should have a closer working relationship.

Some examples of questionnaire responses:
CR practitioners have expressed their dissatisfaction with the levels of availability and quality of training in Northern Ireland. What aspects of training cause most concern?

  • "We would agree with that statement, again its historical because it was the type of work that people did not want to engage in at the time. It was delivered by people who were doing it out of commitment and experience not because they had a qualification in training. Because of the changing political and social climate there is a thirst out there for good quality, qualitative training. It is essential that this training is structured and sustainable. We are very involved in the training consortium and everything is going to plan at the minute, the interviews stages are over and things should be underway soon. One of the greatest elements of the consortium is that it is not going to be situated in Belfast which should improve accessibility. The aspect of training that causes most concern has to be that some of the very good quality training initiatives that were around years ago have not changed their strategies, this is not necessarily their fault, it is just that they have never been able to engage with others with the same objectives. We are not saying that we have all the answers but we hope that the consortium can address some of these issues. One of the areas we would like to see better training developed it would have to be evaluation. If we look at contact initiatives we find that there is very little to be gained if there is no pre or post contact evaluation work being done, we hope to see further support in this area. It cannot be one-off training, it has to be sustainable".
  • "Yes I would totally agree with that. First of all we have to be able to discover what training is capable of doing and what it is not capable of doing. Sometimes when people suggest that certain problems can be addressed with training alone they are putting the cart before the horse. It is no good simply bringing in training, training has to follow the development of a specific goal or a statement, then there has to be some form of analysis as to what the present position is followed by an examination of this analysis and a drawing up of some form of policies and procedures then the training should commence. Training only becomes relevant when these policies and procedures have been established. Training can also lose its effectiveness if the person that is being trained returns to a line manager who has not been taking place in this activity and has not been trained in the same area as their staff members. The second point is that the training has to be relevant to the constituency, the difficulty has been that CR training has been relevant to CR work and not necessarily to those involved in other professions".
  • "This is definitely an area that has to be addressed …The difficulty with addressing problems with training is that we have 25 different councils who may need 25 different types of training, again who is going to pay for this? When talking specifically about CRO training we need some form of concrete baseline so that a co-ordinated approach can be adopted. In order to get some form of baseline I network as much as possible as a form of training but there definitely seems to be a lack of knowledge when it comes to addressing this issue of training. When trying to discover what types of training are needed people should simply be asked ‘what type of training would benefit you most? The answer to this problem lies with the practitioners. I felt that the approach of the CRTC questionnaire came from a ‘why should we let you be included’ approach, this may nit adequately address the issues"
Training Providers, Contact Details

An Crann / The Tree
10 Arthur Street, Belfast BT1 4GD
Tel: 01232-240209
Contact: The Director
An Crann is helping people to tell and to hear the stories of the ‘Troubles’ by working - through the arts - with groups or individuals who wish to record their own experiences. They are currently working with writing groups, visual arts projects, film and a long term music project.

Corrymeela Community (external_link)
8 Upper Crescent, Belfast BT7 1NT
Tel: 01232-325008
Contact: Trevor Williams
Practical assistance offered:
Consultants with experience of leading inter-church programmes for both adults & youth groups

  • Study/discussion resources for use by inter-church groups
  • Residential accommodation at Ballycastle Centre for inter-church groups. Also meeting space in Belfast.
  • Residential accommodation at Knocklayd Centre for small group inter-church spiritual reflection and for respite.
  • Networking with other inter-church groups.
  • Worship resources suitable for inter-church groups.

Materials available:
Celebrating Together: Prayers, Liturgies and Songs
Variety of books and leaflets on the work of Corrymeela.
Doing Unto Others by the Inter-church Group on Faith and Politics.
A More Excellent Way by Timothy Kinahan.
Quest for Community: The Corrymeela Journey, video.
To Do the Unexpected: Reading Scripture in Northern Ireland by Andre Lascaris.

Counteract (external_link)
45/47 Donegall Street, Belfast BT1 2FG
Tel: 01232-237023
Contact: Joe Law, Training Officer
Counteract was set up to tackle sectarian harassment within the workplace and community to ensure that no one suffers unfair treatment because of their religious belief or political opinion. It offers Anti-sectarian Training seminars which can be adapted for a wide range of clients including: youth groups, churches, trade unions, district councils, employers, etc. The training programme addresses various issues: awareness raising, creation of an anti-sectarian ethos, assisting organisations to develop strategies, policies and procedures.
Counteract has recently launched a new Equity and Diversity Trainer’s Certificate which aims to facilitate capacity building within organisations allowing them to develop, deliver and sustain in-house anti-intimidation/anti-discrimination training programmes. The Certificate has been accredited by the Open College Network at Level 3 and may also be used towards relevant NVQ’s at Levels 3 or 4 in Training and Development.
Sectarian Harassment in the Workplace - The Inside Stories
A video and trainers resource pack developed to challenge employers, unions and individuals to address the prejudices that contribute to the tensions in our society. (£350)

Evangelical Contribution on NI
12 Wellington Place, Belfast BT1 6GE
Tel: 01232-327231
Contact: Derek Poole, Development Officer
ECONI client groups are: Church and Christian based groups, interdenominational, community relations and community organisations.
ECONI’s training courses include:
Journey in Understanding - a six week course exploring the influence of culture, history and religion in shaping our identity. The course will be hosted at three different locations in Autumn 1998 (with four intakes during the year.)
Bridge Builders is a ten week course which explores in more depth the themes of conflict, peace-building, identity and the role of the church. It aims to equip and empower Christians to be active bridge builders, and to consider ways in which they might motivate others to become similarly involved. (Runs twice a year.)
ECONI publish a series of booklets and resource materials for use in churches, Bible study groups, youth groups and individuals. A catalogue is available.

Fair Employment Commission (external_link)
Andras House, 60 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7BB
Tel: 01232-240020
Contact: Jane Noble/Julie McCormack
The FEC’s Training and Advisory service provides training to (among others): managers, employees, trade unions, the voluntary sector, schools, and public authorities. Areas covered include: guidance on recruitment and selection procedures, development work on equal opportunity policies and procedures, design of tailor-made training programmes for overcoming sectarian harassment.

Forum for Community Work Education
3rd Floor, 123/127 York Street, Belfast BT15 1AB
Tel: 01232-232587
Contact: Sabine Ponater, Community Relations Officer
FCWE (NI) provides practical and participative workshops and specific short or long term programmes designed to meet the needs of community groups and their volunteers. Issues explored include: Dealing with Conflict, Identity and Belonging, Workplace Intimidation, Equality, Negotiation Skills, Anti-sectarianism, etc.

Future Ways Programme (external_link)
University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA
Tel: 01265-324550
Contact: Derick Wilson & Duncan Morrow
(School of History, Philosophy & Politics)
Future Ways, supported by the Understanding Conflict Trust, develops training programmes with community organisations. It has developed a resource pack, Ways Out of Conflict, to facilitate cross community meetings between adults plus a set of nine adult education texts for group work. The material is divided into three main themes: Understanding Stable and Divided Societies, Coping with Conflict and Finding Ways Out. (£20.50)
The Programme also offers two courses: on an open access basis as modules within relevant undergraduate programmes (BSc. YW 102&110 and BA/BSc (Combined Studies); and in the Masters in Social Policy (SA 614 & 615). Currently these are ‘Cross Community Work - Theory and Policy’ and ‘Cross Community Work - Process and Change (Facilitating Cross Community Meetings)’.

Irish School of Ecumenics
c/o 36 College Park Avenue, Belfast BT7 1LR
Tel: 01232-329055
Contact: Johnston McMaster, N.I. Co-ordinator
The Irish School of Ecumenics in association with the University of Ulster at Magee College, L’Derry offers a certificate in Reconciliation Studies (beginning October 1998). The couse is taught at two locations: 48 Elmwood Avenue, Belfast and Magee College. It is part-time for two years.
A course is also available through the Queen’s University of Belfast’s Institute of Continuing Education (co-ordinated by Dr McMaster) entitled Faciliating Faith and Change and will be taught in Belfast and Armagh. Information is also available on shorter courses held in Belfast, Armagh, Enniskillen, Derry and Dungannon on themes relevant to Reconciliation in Religion and Society.

The Mediation Network for Northern Ireland
74 Dublin Road, Belfast BT2 7HP
Tel: 01232-438614
Contact: Joe Campbell, Assistant Director
The Mediation Network offers training in skills for conflict intervention in the community, churches and neighbourhood disputes. An open six day course begins in late September each year and is repeated over weekends beginning each January. Shorter introduction and focused training is also designed for client groups as requested. Training is also offered on a range of community awareness and community relations themes to the public, private and community sector.

Peace and Reconciliation Group
18-20 Bishop Street, L’Derry
Tel: 01504-369206
Contact: Tanya Gallagher, Project Officer
PRG offer short one day or two day courses on community relations issues including Single Identity Work, Prejudice Awareness, Anti-sectarianism, Conflict Resolution and Facilitating Political Discussion. Details by arrangement.

Peace Studies: University of Ulster (external_link)
University of Ulster at Magee, Northland Road
Londonderry, BT48 7JL. Tel: 01504-371371
Contact: The Course Director
The University of Ulster at Magee offers a BA Hons in Peace and Conflict Studies which is a full time course of three years duration. A Postgraduate Diploma/MA in Peace Studies is also available on a full-time basis. Having achieved a sufficiently high standard in the diploma students may proceed to MA.

Ulster People’s College
30 Adelaide Park, Belfast BT9 6FY
Tel: 01232-655161
Contact: John McQuade,
Education Training & Development Officer
The College offers a Certificate in Community Relations for individuals and community groups. It involves one day per week for three terms and is accredited through the University of Ulster. Also on offer are a variety of short courses and seminars on such areas as Cultural Identity, Political Education, Equality Rights and Justice.

Workers’ Educational Association - Interface Project
11 Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5AF
Tel: 01232-687710
Contact: Colin Neilands
The Interface Project works primarily with adult groups in the community and voluntary sector although it does do some work with other sectors.
The Project’s staff and part-time facilitators work with groups across Northern Ireland helping to design and deliver community relations training programmes specifically suited to the group’s own needs and commitments. This involves a wide range of skills and knowledge covering Prejudice, Conflict Resolution, Anti-discriminatory Awareness, Creating Community Relations Policy, Political Education, Irish History, Exploring Identity and Learning to Live with Difference. Interface also delivers a Training for Trainers programme. Most training is delivered in-house to community groups. A few courses are public and are advertised locally.
Most training programmes are designed to meet the specific needs of the client groups. However, the project has two ‘off the shelf’ courses: Us and Them - a 10 session accredited course (1 credit at Level 2 with NI Open College Network) which explores identity issues in the NI context and Paths Through Tomorrow - an introductory course in Irish History, usually delivered over 10 sessions (not accredited).
Programmes in Political Education and Negotiation Skills will also commence in Autumn 1998.
In 1998/99 Interface will be delivering two 5 day courses for its tutors/facilitators to equip them with the skills and knowledge to deliver basic CR workshops. The project will also be running 4 Facilitation Skills courses (2 credits at Level 3, NIOCN) in 1998/99 in Belfast, Derry, Armagh and Enniskillen.
Us and Them - Facilitator’s Pack
Paths Through the Past - Tutor Pack
Political Education Resource Pack (in press)

Youth Action North West
(Cross Community Initiative)
10 Bishop Street, Londonderry BT48 6PW.
Tel: 01504 262028
Contact: Michael Doherty, Training Officer
Youth Action provides training for youth and community workers, social workers, EMU teachers, probation officers, cross-border development workers. It offers Open College Network accredited programmes on the following: Exploring Diversity, Facilitating Community Relations Work, Facilitation and Group Life, Introduction to Mediation Skills. All accredited programmes can be offered to individual groups.
Workshops available include, Introduction to Community Relations Work, Prejudice Awareness, Conflict Resolution/Transformation, Evaluating Community Relations Work, Designing Programmes for Youth Groups. All workshop/seminars can be adjusted to facilitate needs of respective groups.
Training resources:

Lifelines worksheets (£4 - available on request).
Mediation Training manual (Only available to those who undertake the accredited course.)

Youth Link: NI
143 University Street, Belfast BT7 1HP
Tel: 01232-323217
Contact: Paddy White,
Training Development Officer
Youth Link offer a range of training opportunities in CR:

  • An RSA qualification in Part-time Youth Work which includes modules on the skills and issues of cross community work
  • A Post Foundation Youth Work Training course in cross community work
  • A modular training programme which can be tailored to the needs of individual groups
  • A Single Identity Confidence Building programme, principally for church groups
  • The Kairos programme for small groups of young adults

Youth Link is a partnership between the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Religious Society of Friends and the Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church. The members of these churches represent the primary constituency.
Youth Link publishes a range of discussion booklets for youth groups which focus on Northern Ireland issues. It has also produced a training manual, A Strategy for Peace, (£50) providing modules in cross-community skills and issues for young adults and youth workers.
In addition to the previously listed organisations there are also a large number of individuals in Northern Ireland who can offer training to develop skills. Quite a few of them are listed in the following publication: A Skills Guide for Community Relations Work in Northern Ireland: A Guide to Trainers, Evaluators, Facilitators and Consultants in the Fields of Community Relations, Cultural Traditions and Related Areas, Community Relations Council, 1997 (£2.00)

Other Publications

Anti-racism Training in Northern Ireland, Bryson House

Churches Peace Education Programme, (1994), More Power to Heal - Peace, Harmony & Reconciliation, Churches Peace Education Programme

Dickson. Ann and Doherty. Michael, (1993), Lifelines: A Youth Worker’s Handbook for Cross-community Work, Youth Action

Doucet. Ian, (1996), Resource Pack for Conflict Transformation, International Alert

Fitzduff. M, (1991), Approaches to Community Relations Work, Belfast: Community Relations Council. (CRC Pamphlets; No. 1) Coverscan

Fitzduff. Mari, (1988), Community Conflict Skills, Cookstown: Community Conflict Skills Project. Coverscan

Gorman. D, An Crann/The Tree Info Packs,

McMaster. J, Building Confidence - A Single Identity Programme for Church Based Groups, Youth Link NI.

McMaster. Johnston, (1994), An Inter-Church Directory for Northern Ireland, Belfast: Community Relations Council.

McMaster. Johnston, (1994), Churches Working Together: A Practical Guide for N. Ireland, Belfast: Community Relations Council.

Mediation UK, (1995), Training Manual in Community Mediation Skills, Mediation UK.

Morrow. D and Wilson. D, (1996), The Importance of Informal Adult Education and Reconciliation, in WAYS OUT OF CONFLICT: Resources for Community Relations Work, Corrymeela Press (ISBN 1 873739 10 9). Coverscan

Power To Heal, Creative Approaches to Everyday Conflicts, Churches Peace Eduation Programme, 1994

Spinks. Tony, (1993), Practical Guide to Facilitation Skills, London: Kogan Page.

Tyrell. J, and Farrell. S, (1995), Peer Mediation in Primary Schools, Coleraine: University of Ulster. (ISBN ISBN 1 85923 004 0) 99 pages £5,00 Coverscan

Williamson. Arthur, (1995), Building the Peace: The Role of Voluntary and Community Actions in Building a Sustainable Peace in Northern Ireland, Belfast: Community Relations Council.

Accredited University Courses


Training the Trainers in Student Community Relations Work


Jordanstown (


Mrs J.I. Young




Participants will be expected to have successfully completed the introduction to community relations work module, or equivalent training course


Community Relations Practice


Jordanstown (


Mr M.J. Morrissey




No special requirements


Introduction to community relations


Jordanstown (


Mrs J.I. Young




No special requirements


Peace and Conflict Studies


Magee (


Mr Felix Agnew


Full-time course


Typical A level requirements, C,C,C.

This section is currently under construction and will be updated regularly.

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