Government should be building better social bridges: Neeson

THE Government should offer greater support to organisations that bring people together, according to Alliance Assembly member Sean Neeson.

In submitting the Alliance Party response to the DETI consultation document, “Developing a Successful Social Economy”, Party Spokesperson for Enterprise, Sean Neeson MLA, highlighted how social capital – those networks and relationships of trust among us – can be developed to cut across social divisions.

Mr Neeson said: “Social economy enterprises – those firms like credit unions, housing associations, co-operatives and charities – should receive greater support if they are outward looking and promote work across social divisions. Alliance supports such means of ‘bridging social capital’.

“Alliance wants to see an integrated social economy, not a segregated one. Sectarianism and segregation carry considerable human, social and economic costs. Developing a ‘bridging’ form of social capital would increase mutual understanding and trust, and reduce the social costs to our society.”

Meanwhile, Alliance Party Spokesperson for Social Development, Eileen Bell MLA, said that it was important that organisations in the voluntary and community sector are not left behind.

Mrs Bell said: “I welcome the Government’s overdue acknowledgement of the important role it has to play in developing the voluntary and community sectors in Northern Ireland.

“Some social organisations do not have a business model, and will require assistance to transform themselves, or may not even be suited to become a social enterprise. Alliance also expressed this concern in our response to the Department for Social Development’s consultation, ‘Pathways for Change’.”

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