Launch of CRAIC NI Community Interest Company

CRAIC NI C.I.C. (Community Interest Company), a start-up social enterprise, had its official launch Friday 11th December at the Ulster Bank Headquarters, Belfast. Opening the event Cecilia Whitehorn, the Manager of the South Belfast Social Enterprise Hub said, “As we have supported CRAIC NI to become a social enterprise test trader, we have shared a ‘craicing’ journey with the company’s founding Directors Eileen Chan-Hu and Maciek Bator as they have developed their services and projects.”

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What’s the CRAIC? CRAIC NI stands for Cultivate Respect, Appreciate Inclusion in Communities in Northern Ireland. CRAIC NI is the only social enterprise in Northern Ireland offering diversity and cultural awareness training services that are provided by facilitators from diverse backgrounds. Since its inception just over a year ago, CRAICNI has run over 30 workshops involving some 600 participants drawn from government, community and youth organisations. Friday’s launch marked an important new stage in the company’s development as CRAIC NI moves into working with employers and employees across the private sector.

Along with presentations by the CRAIC NI Co-Directors, the launch event included short presentations by a number of distinguished researchers, practitioners and business executives. Each presentation was concerned with how to respond to racism in the workplace and on the importance of NI businesses having effective policies and practices to cultivate respect, appreciation and inclusion in places of work. A new board of directors was also introduced. Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Guy Spence, was in attendance.

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Speaking at the launch, Eileen Chan-Hu a founding Director of CRAIC NI said:“We aim to help grow a wider, appreciative understanding of diversity and change in the social landscape of Northern Ireland. We seek to do this by offering learning experiences that stimulate reflection, enable mutual understanding, and encourage actions that help to promote good race relations and social cohesion. Our distinctive approach involves collaborating, in the provision of education and training services, with other people from minority ethnic/cultural communities, not least those who have experience of intercultural working.

As we launch the next phase of CRAIC NI today, it is pleasing that the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) has just published its long-awaited Racial Equality Strategy. We in CRAIC NI are ready to do our bit to help make Northern Ireland ‘a place where people can live, learn, socialise and work together regardless of race or ethnicity’”.

Denise Cranston from Business in the Community said: “Business in the Community is looking forward to exploring with CRAIC NI the potential for us to work together on the development and roll out of workplace-based training that will support employers to address racism in the workplace”.

Speaking about recent research carried out by Ulster University, Dr Lucy Michael commented: “Racism destroys trust, diminishes confidence and blocks cooperation. It is in the interests of every business to ensure that staff understand and demonstrate commitment to a racism-free workplace, for colleagues and customers”.

Julia Andrade Rocha from PeoplePlus NI commented: “We’re very happy to support CRAIC NI as they formally launch their suite of programmes for local businesses. We are committed to building across Northern Ireland a well integrated workforce that embracing diversity in all of its forms. And so we are looking forward to working closely with Eileen and Maciek on spreading the news to all local employers about the importance of having a welcoming and inclusive recruitment strategy that sees job applicants for their potential and skills”.

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Maciek Bator, Director and co-founder of CRAIC NI, shared information on the company’s services and projects, indicating their relevance to all sectors: “Employers in all sectors have a crucial role to play in helping to challenge racism and cultivate respectful, welcoming attitudes to cultural and ethnic diversity in Northern Ireland. We are hopeful of being able to work supportively with various partners and associates to help achieve this in every workplace.”

Closing the event, David Gavaghan from the Aurora Prime Real Estate Fund, had this to say: “It’s been a great pleasure to be with Maciek and Eileen today for the launch of CRAIC NI. I think the work CRAIC NI have already done here shows the real possibility of bringing an appreciative focus on cultural diversity in Northern Ireland. Given all the positive interest being shown by a range of stakeholders, I know it is going to be successful. Cultural diversity is a key part to a future success of our jurisdiction, particularly of this city, and the focus CRAIC NI is bringing to it is fantastic“.

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