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Extern Pioneers Blue Print for Cross Community Work

Published on:  16 Nov 2009

Extern - the charity which provides high quality individual and community based services for people who have complex needs - today (Friday 13th November 2009) celebrated the findings of its three year Working and Living in a Divided Society project.

The Project has enabled the organisation to design a framework that has improved the working practices of its frontline staff to better understand and engage with the issues of a still largely segregated Northern Ireland.

The Project has been funded by the International Fund for Ireland, through its Community Bridges Programme, which contributed £172,243 and the Northern Ireland Office which contributed £57,414. It has enabled Extern staff to explore their own values and beliefs and to use this experience to enhance their skills, policies and procedures to improve the quality of the services.

The Project has provided staff with increased confidence to work cross culturally and a better appreciation and respect for difference. Skills developed as part of the training project are now being mainstreamed into all of Extern's future work with individuals who are vulnerable.

Speaking at the launch of the project's evaluation report, Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: "The International Fund for Ireland remains focused on creating new and innovative ways to promote peace building and reconciliation and help Unionists and Nationalists throughout the Island of Ireland to learn, work and live together in a shared future.

"This Working In a Divided Society Project, which was funded through our Community Bridges Programme, is exactly the type of pioneering project which the Fund is keen to support.

"Our Community Bridges Programme has enabled the development of many new approaches to reconciliation and delivered assistance to many community organisations, including Extern, which has allowed them to enhance their skills, policies and procedures to benefit local communities. "

Quote Brian Grzymek, Senior Official, Northern Ireland Office, said: "This is pioneering work - The Northern Ireland Office is delighted to be associated with Extern and the Working and Living in a Divided Society project".

Liz Cuddy, Chief Executive, Extern, said: "Extern was delighted to be given the opportunity to lead on this challenging but extremely rewarding work. It has greatly developed our thinking and practices. We would welcome the opportunity to be able to share this with other organisations"

Tony Macaulay and Rodney Green of Macaulay Associates Network Ltd, who evaluated the project, said: "This project has left a lasting legacy within Extern resulting in a comprehensive framework, organisational systems, skilled practitioners, practical resources and a greater organisational commitment to supporting and implementing diversity work within this society."

The Project was developed in recognition of the fact that the needs of the people who are vulnerable within a segregated society could only be addressed through a greater understanding of diversity.

The project has lead to the development of the diversity and intercultural dialogue policy which reflects best practice from the EU; staff development and training on relevant issues; and the development and use of resource materials.

Extern piloted the resources within its Children and Family Services and are now mainstreaming this work across all the organisation.

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