The Democratic Society have been working in Northern Ireland since early 2015, creating links with the Open Government Network NI and mentoring organisations participating in the Civic Activism Programme* in Northern Ireland.

The organisations we mentored were trying new and innovative ways of engaging with their communities. Our role was to support them in this. We worked in partnership with our friends at Involve, drawing on our combined experience and expertise in civic engagement.

We captured learning and created case studies of each project as learning resources for others who might want to try using these tools. These were published at a final conference in March 2017 – Democracy Day as part of the Imagine Festival in Belfast. These case studies we wrote are all publicly available. Read the case studies here!  

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Organisations getting to know each other, First workshop, Belfast (Sept 2015)

Our work on this programme has included the following aspects:

    • Linking organisations with international experts in the civic activism tool as Learning Partners, who delivered training, workshops and guidance.
    • Designing and facilitating workshops bringing all organisations together (Sept 2015, Feb 2016, Oct 2016)
    • Delivering training workshops on how to implement the civic activism tools
    • Creating opportunities for peer-to-peer networks, and skills sharing
    • Facilitating online network
Corymeela 1
Second programme workshop hosted by one of the programme organisations, Corymeela (February 2016)

We’re working with some really interesting organisations with great community focused projects, and have been delighted to work with them in experimenting with innovative tools. Many of these tools are being used for the first time ever in Northern Ireland. The tools that have been tested for the first time in Northern Ireland include pop-up democracy, citizen juries, social reporting, participatory card games, deliberative polling and many more.

You can see a full list of all the tools in the Civic Activism Toolkit here on the Building Change Trust website: Civic Activism Toolkit. 

Learning visit to Kilkeel Community Audit, run by IEF (March 2016)

Read our short blog on Democracy Day and the state of democracy in Northern Ireland – and learn how to use these methods by looking at the case studies we wrote.

Case studies
Case studies
Facilitating conversations and reflections at Democracy Day conference
Facilitating conversations and reflections at Democracy Day conference

Want to find out more?

 Contact our Scotland office at to say hello

Follow our work in Northern Ireland on Twitter: @demsocNI

Interested in more of our work in Northern Ireland? Drop us a line! Email us at

Civic Activism Programme Partners
Civic Activism Programme Partners

The Civic Activism Programme is funded by the Building Change Trust and supports Northern Irish voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in piloting innovative tools for community involvement, activism and civic engagement.

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