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Briefing Paper - NIACLC & ACSONI Engagement Meeting 4th March 2023

The Convener of the Northern Ireland African and Caribbean Leadership Consortium (NIACLC) Mr Alfred Abolarin met with the Chair of the African and

Caribbean Support Organisation (ACSONI), Dr Livingstone Thompson on March 4th 2023. The meeting was scheduled by Mr Abolarin with a view to discuss strategic and operational issues that have implications for the African and Caribbean Communities in Northern Ireland.


Some of the key areas of discussion included:


The plurality of organisations and the need to develop joint up working and collaborative partnerships within and between African and Caribbean led

organisations; a key mission and tenant of the leadership consortium.


Mr Alfred Abolarin conveyed serious concerns about the recent change in ACSONI community Link WhatsApp group settings which was changed on Tuesday 28 February 2023. The ACSONI Community Link WhatsApp group was created by ACSONI in September 2020. This recent change in policy was implemented without any form of notice or courtesy to the 139 individuals on the forum. Dr Thompson commented that this new approach was welcomed by sections of the community.


Although Mr Abolarin was invited to join the group in December 2022 to share a survey questionnaire; Mr Abolarin mentioned that the policy of the

WhatsApp forum stated “This group also provides sector news and updates. It is an area where the community interact around matters of common interests in the sector.”


Whilst the development and implementation of ACSONI policies are the prerogative of ACSONI, he believes the added layer and potential censoring of information restricts community involvement in sharing information directly and freely. This ultimately impedes on inclusivity and freedom of expression and obviously contravenes aspects of the ACSONI policy stated above. He called on ACSONI leadership to consider and possibly review its position on

the matter.


Mr Abolarin said a prior notice to the WhatsAPP Group Members to inform of the intended procedural changes of the forum would have been helpful and

should have been provided. Mr Abolarin also highlighted the importance of addressing and focussing on issues affecting the community and wider society rather than organisational positioning and personality politics; for example, the critical need to address the emerging challenges facing young African and Caribbean people highlighted in the forum before the change of policy. He cited the positive development of the Young People Practitioner Forum meeting and the action points emanating from the Young People meeting.


Also discussed was the perceived defragmentation and disconnection within and between various organisations and leaders and the urgent need to work together, cohesively and collectively.


The meeting was deemed to be constructive and progressive.




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