Monday 5 December 2016
SCVO media release

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) in partnership with the Wales Council for Voluntary Organisations (WCVA), Involve, and Northern Ireland Environment Link has been awarded a £500k Big Lottery Fund grant to support more people to take part in the decisions that will shape their future.

The UK partners will work together over two years as part of the Open Government Pioneers Project to help people share the tools, techniques and resources required to engage and challenge their governments to serve them better. There will be a particular focus in supporting people who are not normally heard in the decisions that affect them.

The project is formally linked to the International Open Government Partnership, where governments and civil society have been given an equal say in the commitments made by 70 countries to be more open. It will use open government commitments to help people secure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate poverty, tackle inequality and sustain natural resources at home and abroad.

Lucy McTernan, Deputy Chief Executive at SCVO, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity to work with partners right across the UK to encourage more people and organisations to play an active role in their governments and to hold the UK and devolved governments to account on their commitment to be more open and transparent.

“We’ll bring people together and give them the knowledge and skills they need to have a real influence on government policy and the important decisions that affect their lives.”

Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair and a member of its UK Board, said: “The Big Lottery Fund believes people should be in the lead in improving their lives and communities. This UK-wide partnership project will help citizens, including those whose voices are less often heard, have a say in decisions which affect their lives. The Sustainable Development Goals present a significant opportunity to advance equality. Through working in partnership, within the UK and beyond, civil society will learn from, and inform, international practice on how people can shape progress towards these goals in an ambitious and inclusive way.”

Dr Jonathan Bell, Policy Officer at Northern Ireland Environment Link, said:

“We are delighted to be part of the UK Pioneer Project. This is an important Initiative that will help to raise awareness around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It will enable citizens to connect with government and take an active role in the implementation of the goals in Northern Ireland. The project will build on, and complement, the considerable work undertaken by the Northern Ireland Open Government Network and it will create opportunities for further collaboration with colleagues from the open government networks in England, Scotland and Wales.”

Tim Hughes, Open Government Programme Manager at Involve, said: “We are excited to work on this project together with our partners from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Over the past four years the UK Open Government Network has worked with the UK Government to develop reforms that, among other things, open up government data, help shine a light on company ownership, government contracting and the extractive industries, and tackle corruption. Through this project we will continue to build a stronger and more diverse civil society coalition that works to give citizens more control over the issues that matter to their lives.”

Ruth Marks, WCVA’s Chief Executive, said: “WCVA is looking forward to working with our partners across the UK on this exciting new project. It is important that charities, voluntary groups, volunteers, and citizens have an opportunity to engage with the democratic process. The Pioneer Project will help those in our society whose voices are not normally heard, to get more involved in decisions that affect them in their daily lives.  In Wales, we hope to build on the good relationship civil society networks already have with the National Assembly for Wales and Welsh Government. The Pioneer Project resonates with us particularly strongly as we have recently published our new strategic framework for the next five years, which commits us to working in a more open and inclusive way. We are excited to take this project forward in Wales.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1.     The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland’s charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. The Scottish third sector turns over £4.5 billion a year and employs 138,000 people in over 45,000 organisations. For more on SCVO see www.scvo.org.uk

2.     Find out more about the Open Government Pioneers Project

3.     The UK partners will work collaboratively and draw on international practice to help civil society learn about how the UN Sustainable Development Goals link to their mission and understand how open government can help improve the lives of the people they support

4.     For more details, please contact SCVO on 0779 060 1995