Michael Hughes CFNI – Member in Focus #49

Interview with Michael Hughes from Community Foundation NI

Tell us a bit about yourself and/or your organisation.

Passionate in seeing the power of communities to create positive change for themselves by focussing on their assets and what is good in the area. I want to change the narrative especially around funding which looks at need, disadvantage and deficit and which then encourages a race to the bottom. Every community has a great story to tell, every community has its own assets starting with its people and I don’t know of any community which doesn’t want their place to be an even better place to live in. Starting from a point of what is good and how together we can make it even better is a much more dynamic and involved process.

How well have you/your organisation adapted to the pandemic?

Biggest adaptation has been the move to working from home. This in the main has been great as we had our systems more or less in place before we officially closed the office so this did not create any major problems. I do miss the face to face interaction with other members of staff and the wider community – nothing beats a community discussion than a cup of tea/coffee and a chocolate digestive biscuit across a table whether that is in the workspace, a community hall or in someone’s kitchen. We don’t envisage going back to having all the staff in the office at one time, I think it will be a hybrid model of 1/2 days in work staggered amongst the staff teams and the rest working from home.

How well have people/organisations in your area collaborated throughout the pandemic?
I think there has been more collaboration within many communities because of Covid-19. We have seen many communities cross divisions and boundaries to help each other and it would be great if these movements over the garden fence could be maintained. I wouldn’t criticise the lack of coordination in the early stages because in the face of such a crisis for me action must always trump structure. As we build back better we should be encouraging more coordination and collaboration as resources that are scarce will get even scarcer so the challenge is how to use these wisely to ensure maximum input
What key needs are becoming apparent and/or are likely to arise this year?

I am not a great fan of framing the future in terms of need, I would rather talk about opportunities, assets and the plenty. For me the biggest challenge therefore is reframing our engrained narrative where our starting points are low when they should be high with great ambition to be even better. If we have enough support from the sector and in particular funders to change this narrative the will challenge many groups to think differently, engage more and become truly representative of the communities they work in and for.

ASK: What do you need, right now, that the members of Community Network NI and/or the wider community may be able to help you with?
Please think differently about your community. Look at all the assets your area has, ask what local people think is good about the area, what could make it even better, how they could contribute and what other help they might need. Set about developing communities which are great places to live in, great places to move back to, great places to consider moving to and promise ourselves that the one thing we will never give our young people is a suitcase and a ticket for a boat or a plane.
👋 If you would like to respond to this ask, or tell us a little more about your community please follow the link below and enter “CFNI” to the first field.

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  1. Pingback: Community News & Events - Friday 25 June 2021 - Community Calling

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