You are on page 1of 1


Equal Employment Initiative Accord Project in Northern Ireland
Long-term unemployment blights lives and liberties. Amartya Sen speaks for all of us when he bemoans the ‘insufficient acknowledgement of the torments and disintegrations caused by high levels of unemployment’1. The Cresco Trust is one of Northern Ireland’s newest not-for profit community organizations. Cresco - a Latin word meaning to grow, expand or advance - is committed to providing opportunities for those disadvantaged within their own community. Based in the north-west, it has devised and managed Accord. Accord embodies a new concept in European Employment Strategy - the call for locally implemented social policies. These should work on the principle of tailored and individualized ‘helps’ for those socially excluded. Breaking the Cycle How do you give hope to people alienated from the workforce? Those excluded from employment often need to change their views of themselves and their place within society. This is a gradual process. It requires a supportive environment that offers new experiences to help build positive self-image and identity. Accord is about enhancing employability for socially excluded groups. These include Status O young people, young single mothers, women returning to employment and the long-term unemployed. Accord has offered a programme of activities delivered through community organisations. These have been designed to address real issues and barriers experienced by the target groups at a local level. Activities within each project reflect the need for nurturing and support as a progression route to employment. As well as Essential Skills projects have also sought to give participants something indefinable - confidence. Personal confidence may be intangible and hard to measure, but is absolutely crucial to accessing the world of work. Accord wants individuals to realise personal worth and become aware of what they can fulfil. In this way it hopes to place them on a road where they can contribute positively to their community. Bottom-up By Design Accord has involved Community Hubs working at grass roots level with the most marginalized. The end result has been projects that are non traditional. They are designed to reflect the needs of the individual (bespoke). What has been practiced is a bottom up process - projects designed by community need. This has produced effective projects. It has also achieved funder targets. Creating Hope Accord has effectively brought together project leaders and service providers representing very diverse communities in Northern Ireland. These people have been focused around a common goal of empowerment. Frequent and consistent contact that occurs over a sufficient length of time allows relationships to genuinely go through a transformation. This contact has been a process, not an event. Relationships have been built between key opinion formers and leaders. It is a hopeful model for the future. The Longer Journey The journey to employment can take many steps. Accord has identified the need for a planned response from a variety of agencies to meet layers of social need. Policy making is most powerful when linked to consultations with social partners. Practice on-the-ground is most powerful when rigorous thinking is facilitated by policy makers. To this end Cresco is proud to be associated with two upcoming events. Jerr Boschee is a world renowned authority on the Social Enterprise Economy. His authority is warranted both by practice and insightful thinking. Cresco is delighted to partner Kesh Development Association in delivering a major conference at which Jerr Boschee will be the keynote speaker, followed by two days of “Master Classes”. We look forward to his insight into the social economy and social enterprises within the community sector. The conference will take place on the beautiful Lusty beg Island in County Fermanagh on 27th September 2004, followed by two Master Classes in Londonderry on the 28th & 29th September 2004. Early booking is advisable for this unique opportunity. As part of the Accord Programme Cresco also plans another important event in the Spring of 2005. It will be a Conference to develop a dynamic relationship between academics, statutory bodies, the voluntary sector, decision makers and target group participants. Projects may meet aims and objectives. Yet, too much of a short term focus may fail to meet the actual needs of the people who are the target group. This event will reflect on issues of long term strategy and funding in a realistic way: It plans to make a purposeful contribution to the employability policy debate - at local, national and EU level. A combination of dynamic action and dynamic thinking is vital. This is the overall aim of Accord. It will enable access and return for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market, which must be open to all! FOR FURTHER DETAILS CONTACT: The Cresco Trust Ltd 95C Spencer Road Derry/Londonderry Northern Ireland BT47 6AG Telephone: 0044 (0) 28 71 343006 Fax: 0044 (0) 28 71 318799 Email: Website: This project is a financed by the European Social Fund, through the Equal Employment Initiative, Executive Fund Programme, Derry City Council and Strabane District Council
(Footnotes) 1 Social Exclusion: Concept, Application and Scrutiny; June 2000; Manila