Information on 2019-2020 Circle of Learning Programme

The 2019-2020 Circle of Learning programme has come to an end after another successful series of events.

Circle of Learning is devised to provide a continuity of learning within and between communities by supporting the transfer of knowledge and learning between established leaders and groups that are less experienced in community development practices.

The programme has been running since 2013 and in what is a slight change to the delivery model, the 2019/20 programme selected three hubs across the region that are tasked with supporting the work of four organisations in their area that require capacity development. The three hubs were:

1.      Ards/North Down: Ards Communtiy Network

2.      Mid-Ulster: Sperrin Cultural Awareness Association

3.      Antrim and Newtownabbey: Impact NI

The 12 groups that benefitted from a local organisation to support their efforts to develop smaller organisations and to provide mentoring support, which facilitated them feeding into the region wide network. The networking programme included regular meetings, residentials, study visits and provided a small budget for social action projects.

Throughout the year, the 12 groups, which included community associations, faith groups, youth groups, women’s groups and cultural groups from across Northern Ireland, participated in opportunities for: 

1.      Increased opportunities for engagement and collaboration between participating groups taking part in structured networking and learning exchanges

2.      Relationship building between groups, to share information, seek advice and get advice on plans

3.      Increase capacity of groups through the up-skilling and emergence of dynamic community activists

Pictures of residentials November 2019 with groups and facilitators

We enjoyed our two residentials (November 2019 & February 2020) and unfortunately due to COVID-19 restrictions two networking events to Àras uí Chonghaile 'James Connolly House' and Museum of Orange Heritage 'Schomberg House' were cancelled.

COVID-19 adaptions

Due the COVID-19 restrictions the programme adapted by responding to local needs in local areas. The three hubs supported the smaller groups to remain connected and ensured that the most isolated and marginalised had a support network. Thankfully due to the networking and relationship building that occurred between summer 2019 and mid-March 2020 small groups were able to share ideas and access information about support during COVID-19. While physical gatherings were not possible, the groups made use of technology to support those in need particularly those in rural locations.
Evaluations of the 2019/2020 programme showed that small groups and individual participants have gained greater confidence to deliver good relations programmes and increased confidence in visiting new areas. Most importantly, the programme has created a new network of contacts and relationships across three geographical areas.