Better Together: Joined up working is key to achieving a better future

As the Commission for Victims and Survivors launches the third of its EU PEACE IV-funded research projects, it encourages government departments and the community and voluntary sector to work cohesively in pursuit of a better future built on a foundation of lasting peace.

The EU’s PEACE IV Programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

'Better Together: Reviewing the needs of Victims and Survivors' looks at the needs of those affected by conflict 23 years after the signing of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.

It will be a cornerstone in the delivery of a new 10-year Victims' Strategy which the Commission are currently in a Co-design process with The Executive Office and others in developing.

Outlining the importance of the research, Gina McIntyre Chief Executive of the SEUPB said: “Unfortunately many victims and survivors of the past conflict/troubles are still suffering from chronic pain, trauma and the effects of social isolation. In recognition of this the EU PEACE Programme has been very supportive of the needs of victims and survivors, under each iteration of the Programme, since it was first launched back in 1995.”

“This new and important EU-funded research gives a very detailed understanding of the unique and complex needs of victims and survivors and will be used to help improve their health and well-being now and in the future. I would like to congratulate the Commission for Victims and Survivors as well as well as the research team and organisations involved in the production of the report,” she continued.

“The 'Better Together' research comes at a crucial time for all of us,” states Andrew Sloan, Chief Executive of the Commission.

“A population survey that we carried out earlier this year left us in no doubt as to the far-reaching impact the Troubles have had; they span communities, jurisdictions and generations.”

EU funding for the victims and survivors research programme through the SEUPB mean the needs identified will serve as a valuable roadmap for the way forward. It also expanded the scope of research to Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and captured voices and experiences that, in the past, have been underrepresented and needs left unmet.

Andrew continued, “The reality for those who lived through the worst of the violence is that we need to get this new Strategy right if those affected by the past are to feel empowered and supported in their journey of healing.”

“That means sharing learning and expertise with colleagues across government and the community and voluntary sectors to help victims and survivors in that process, and allow us to break the cycles of trauma, negative coping strategies and divisions we currently experience.

“The responses to questions we raised in the population survey were a reminder that this work affects all of us. Ultimately we are all in the business of trying to carve out a healthy and prosperous society. This was a message we delivered strongly at The Executive Office Committee in October where we asked for the establishment of departmental Victims' Champions. So too are we engaging with local government with the same aim.

"There's little doubt that the economic impact of Covid will see departmental budgets and funding streams tighten in the years ahead. It's imperative we find a way to share learning, and expedite initiatives that seek to deliver real change."

Match-funding for the project has been provided by The Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.