Brian Dalton, the ‘new’-ish CEO of the umbrella organisation, outlines his vision for it
As the new CEO of Irish in Britain I have been travelling around the country meeting members for the last seven months, learning about the history and the work of our diverse membership. I have been fortunate to visit some fantastic services, clubs and associations, delivering valuable work to improve the lives, experiences and welfare of our community.
The operating environment for our members is a challenging one, resources are finite and the profile of our community is evolving. In that time we have reviewed and streamlined our own organisation to ensure we are ready to support our members to make the biggest impact they can, to represent their common interests and to offer the best value as a member organisation.
Yes we are now a smaller organisation but we are ambitious.
We have recruited a largely new team in the last 8 months and we feel we are now well placed to meet the challenges ahead after the transition of the last 18 months. These challenges are significant and in many ways familiar.
Reduced funding, succession planning, engaging a changing diaspora and evidencing impact will determine the reach and scope of member services going forward.
Irish in Britain will champion these services and work alongside them to ensure their activity and impact are effectively captured and shared.
I have spent 20 years working in the voluntary sector and recognise that our strength is our adaptability and capacity to respond to unmet needs. Our shared challenge is demonstrating the great value of that work to the widest possible audience.
Irish in Britain will be rolling out an organisational accreditation mark to evidence best practice in the management of these services and we adopt these principles to inform how Irish in Britain manages it resources, plans activity and targets outcomes.
As CEO I am committed to lead professional and accountable member support services with new and traditional platforms to improve sustainability and connect resources, people and practice. Where we can’t provide direct support we will broker partners to work with organisations on the ground.
Our priority areas have been shaped by our members’ feedback: governance, funding strategies, inter-generational working and asset based community development. In my own experience of leading health and social care organisations I have learned that it’s important to acknowledge our history but also to work across traditional boundaries where that can enhance services, bring in new skills or bring the value of our communities skills and achievements to a new audience.
We will continue to represent health and social inequalities that are not addressed in the design and delivery of health, education and criminal justice services at both strategic and national level. This is vital in highlighting need but also to highlight the effective practice of many of our members.
Maintaining and building influence is important, our visibility as a membership body ensures that our communities needs are targeted, relevant and heard.
As a community network we have a powerful story to tell, our challenge now is to ensure that we connect across traditional boundaries with groups of common interest. We will continue to show case and disseminate evidence based research and policy and we look forward to facilitating a busy programme in 2018.
We have a growing young and dynamic Irish community that will be our future champions and advocates and Irish in Britain will build and connect with these networks online, in forums and in person. Last year was a period of rebuilding and renewal and Irish in Britain is ready and committed to delivering quality services that make the biggest impact we can. To that end we will be transparent about our activity and outputs, be accountable for the mandate placed in us by our members and lead the discussion about the issues that cut across all areas of the Irish community here in Britain. We look forward to a collaborative and dynamic year; the work has already begun.