The British Red Cross' policy priorities for the next Northern Ireland executive

Outlining our policy recommendations for the next NI Executive.

Our publication, The British Red Cross’ Policy Priorities for the Next Northern Ireland Executive, summarises the policy changes we believe should be made by the NI Executive after the next Assembly election.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, our vision of a world where everyone gets the help they need in a crisis is more important than ever.

Local communities and organisations have pulled together like never before to support those in need throughout the pandemic.

The next NI Executive needs to ensure people in crisis are given human-centred, holistic support to get them through the most difficult times.

Our report sets out recommendations for emergency response, health and social care, loneliness as well as refugees and people seeking asylum.

Key priorities

This report has been shaped by our substantial operational experience, the experiences of people we support and insights from our research. We believe the next NI Executive should prioritise:

  • A human-centred emergency response. This means placing individuals and communities at the heart of emergency planning, response and recovery, and ensuring that people’s humanitarian needs are fully met in an emergency.
  • Tackling the humanitarian impacts of climate change with strategic plans and policy agendas to protect people and communities
  • Health and social care to ensure everyone can access timely, personalised care that addresses both their clinical and non-clinical needs
  • Tackling loneliness so that people are supported throughout their life to have meaningful social connections
  • Helping refugees and people seeking asylum to access support to meet their basic needs and to rebuild their lives.

Our recommendations

Our recommendations include:

Emergency response

  • Amend local and regional resilience and emergency planning structures within the NI Civil Contingencies Framework, 'Building Resilience Together'. This will integrate and value the VCS as strategic partners in emergency response and recovery.
  • Invest in community resilience building by providing additional dedicated resources to initiate and sustain local resilience programmes and to mitigate the impacts of climate related emergencies.
  • Renew focus on supporting diverse needs of people during the recovery phase of an emergency. This should include the development of community led recovery plans within new Civil Contingencies Framework, 'Building Resilience Together'.

Health and social care

  • Invest in addressing people’s non-clinical needs throughout the health and social care system, including increasing funding of community-based health and social care.
  • Deliver strategic plans to reduce outpatient waiting lists and improve the support to meet the emotional and practical needs of patients while they are on waiting lists.
  • Helping patients to ‘wait well’, including prioritising good communication and adopting a trauma-informed approach to the support provided.
  • Promote greater integration of statutory services and the VCS within the health and social care system. This includes recognising the VCS as a key health and social care partner in providing holistic, person-centred support for people’s health needs.

Tackling loneliness

  • Develop and implement a cross-departmental fully funded NI Loneliness Strategy for all ages and backgrounds within the first two years of the new Executive.
  • Deliver coordinated action on loneliness at all levels of Government and across statutory organisations.
  • Ensure fully funded plans to tackle loneliness are included as a core part of Covid-19 recovery plans.

 

Refugees and people seeking asylum

 

  • Ensures proactive and preventative measures are taken to enable refugees and people seeking asylum to access health and social care services on an equitable basis.
  • Ensures departments develop and deliver their own implementation plans to fulfil their responsibilities within the NI Refugee Integration Strategy.
  • Provides sufficient resources to support refugee family reunion integration services on a sustainable, long-term basis.