We are currently undertaking research in partnership with ACSONI, POLCA and Belfast Intercultural Romanian Association on behalf of Belfast City Council to make recommendations to address ethnic inequalities across a variety of domains, including but not exclusive to: health, education, employment and civic and political participation.
The research and report will inform the city’s Community Planning document, the ‘Belfast Agenda’, which sets out a shared vision for the future of the city and seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing outcomes of all citizens in Belfast.
Interviewers have been hired from a range of ethnic, national and linguistic backgrounds who have strong connections in the stakeholder communities for this research. Each of the interviewers have been provided with training on ethics and interview methods, technique and data management. This has been supplemented by feedback and support throughout the data collection process.
Two additional capacity-building workshops funded by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust provide opportunities for training and collaboration on data analysis, giving the interviewers detailed insight into how data is interpreted and refined for presentation and the process of identifying and composing recommendations. They are supported to increase their contribution to the interpretation of data and composition of recommendations through this process.
A new survey seeks to gather the views of members of the Church of Ireland on ethnic diversity, inclusion and racial justice. The initiative of the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Revd John McDowell, follows discussions with members and clergy and those serving in lay ministry from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds on the progress made within the Church on drawing on our rich diversity.
At the Church of Ireland’s most recent General Synod in September 2021, the Archbishop said: “It was a little troubling to hear about how we had not drawn anything like deeply enough on the rich diversity of backgrounds in our Church. The meeting had also helped me to understand how difficult it can be to be a person of colour on this island and even, at times, in our Church.”
The research now being carried out has been designed in collaboration with the group of ethnically diverse clergy and lay readers who have now met on a further occasion, and will, along with other strands, examine and make recommendations on how the Church of Ireland can become truly a place of welcome for those from every ethnic background, both lay and clergy.
Our team has worked with the Archbishop and working group since last year, considering the range of initiatives in this area undertaken previously and examining how to move forward on an all-island basis with the support of the wider Church membership. The Archbishop hopes to publish the results of the report and recommendations at the upcoming General Synod 2022.