“Staying Motivated”

Assembly Connect Networking Event, 2 June 2015

On 2 June 2015, CRAIC NI were delighted to be invited to speak at Assembly Connect’s Annual Networking event.

The event was well attended with over 70 participants with a great programme of speakers which included Kevin Doherty, CEO, Disability Action, Eileen Bell CBE, former first and only female Speaker of the Assembly and Patricia Lewsley CBE, previous Children’s Commissioner of Northern Ireland and our own Eileen Chan-Hu, Programme Manager and Co-Founder of CRAIC NI . Both Eileen Bell CBE and Patricia Lewsley are now on the management committee of Training Women’s Network encouraging more women into public life.

The theme for the speakers was “Staying Motivated in Challenging Times”.  Each speaker talked of their experiences in work and the challenges of the voluntary and community sector and how it impacted on their current roles. I spoke of the past year’s journey from concept of the idea of developing CRAIC NI with my colleagues from the minority ethnic communities who believed in education and training in raising awareness and building connections with all communities. Hence CRAIC NI was born from the words Cultivate Respect, Appreciate Inclusion across Communities after a session of thought showering with our ‘critical’ friend Denis Stewart. We developed CRAIC NI to support communities in working to educate, facilitate and develop cultural awareness and understanding of diversity. We wanted to use our skills in training to help communities particularly as we had all come from working in the community sector and together had over 45 years’ experience and were from minority ethnic communities ourselves to give them the opportunity to working with minority ethnic trainers.

The journey was small steps as in Confucius’ quote:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

This time last year we went to the relaunch of Unite against Hate campaign by Centre of Democracy and Peacebuilding with our first flyers. It was our first main occasion to network, hear of the work of others in working to tackle hate crime and we brought along members of BME members who supported us with our beginnings of CRAIC NI. It was an exciting time as our concept of CRAIC NI was well received.

Since then we have had a fantastic first year and not without its challenges. Working as a social enterprise we must generate income to sustain ourselves on the company and to develop and expand to ensure our training is of good quality. It has been a year starting with regular meetings in a different atmosphere to what we had been used to in the community sector. More meetings at public places, lots of coffee, working from home, learning to work at different times with my colleagues, either late at night or early dawn! A real learning curve!

Yet what kept us going that with perseverance, endless meetings to network, meet people to tell them about CRAIC NI and starting from our early days with a survey to receive feedback on the type of services needed, we are getting there a year later. At the time of giving the talk, we had just received in the post the day before our formal certificate of incorporation of the company as a Community Interest Company social enterprise. We are delighted and thank the support of all those who believed in CRAIC NI!

So this is one year later from the initial day standing and excited at our first flyer at the Unite against Hate campaign…

We have had a brilliant year, at times hard as it was all new to rewarding moments when we have had great sessions working at training communities in diversity. So many highlights such as working with many establishments and organisations, young to old, from universities, colleges, youth groups, after-schools, early years practitioners, mental health services and from BME and the wider communities. I’ve had the great pleasure in working as a partnership with Maciek Bator in CRAIC NI who I am delighted is representing us for the Social Enterprise Royal Bank of Scotland competition in London and team associates.

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On “Staying Motivated,” I would encourage to “seize the day,” take the opportunities given to you along your path, have a good work and play balance and enjoy what you love doing! For us at CRAIC NI, it has been #goodcraic and pushing ourselves to work harder before playing hard. ‘Life is too short!’

On a final note we all have to stay motivated and at our first event with members of the ethnic minorities we knew our group were well motivated particularly at the end of the event! Thanks Eva Grossman, on her beginning steps of Unite against Hate and as CEO of the Centre of Democracy and Peace Building for including us CRAIC NI in our humble beginnings.

These are my favourite first #goodcraic moments captured in pictures. One of a great group of old and new colleagues who we can stand together to unite against hate and for us, a place for CRAIC NI to be welcomed and the other the sheer motivation of our participants in meeting Peter Corry!

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We all need a goal, stay motivated!

 “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.”

The Assembly Connect annual networking was a great success. An excellent programme and I enjoyed hearing the other speakers, the interactive choir which brought us together to ‘perform’ with great teamwork and made us sing and most of all meeting people and having good craic even after at Stormont Hotel to complete the day! Thank you particularly to Ursula Mc Canny, Assembly Connect for inviting us to speak and to encourage others to go the event!

Eileen Chan-Hu, Programme Manager/Co-Founder CRAIC NI

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