The Wheel participates in and delivers a number of European programmes and projects that aim to activate involvement in Europe among Irish community, voluntary and charitable organisations and social enterprises, and improve our offerings to members.
The Europe for Citizens Programme helps promote understanding between the Union and its citizens. It funds activities carried out by a range of not-for-profit organisations, local authorities and research institutes across Europe.
The specific aim of the 2014 – 2020 programme is to contribute to citizens’ understanding of the EU’s history and diversity. It also aims to foster European citizenship and encourage democratic engagement at EU level.
In Ireland, The Wheel is the National Contact Point for the Europe for Citizens Programme providing:
- Information on the programme criteria
- Training and workshops
- Application advice
- Partner search.
You can download the Europe for Citizens leaflet to find out about the types of projects available and visit the Europe for Citizens website for more information. You can also email the European Programmes Team at The Wheel with any questions about the programme: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wheel is leading a two-year Erasmus+ project that kicks off in October 2018 with partners in Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Latvia and Estonia.
The partners proposing this project are all organisations whose purpose is to provide training, support, advice, and advocacy to the third sector. The "third sector" in this case comprises community, voluntary and charitable organisations, and social enterprises. Geographical, financial, accessibility, and time restraints can make it difficult for members of the project partner organisations most affected most by social exclusion to engage in our training. Communicating skills gained through this training can also be a challenge that impedes skill recognition, job mobility and employability, particularly as many sector skills are the result of informal and non-formal learning.
This project will aim to address each of these challenges through the development of online learning content for the identified core needs of our members. This will allow us to move our training online so that we can reach more of our members in an easily accessible, time, and location flexible manner. An online platform will house the learning content and will be a sustainable tool for each partner to continue to develop and update in line with each of our organisations’ strategic objectives for improving support, training, and digitisation in the sector.
A validation system, based on previous valorised and successful models, will be developed as a means of recognising and communicating non-formal learning through the online platform.
Finally, a comprehensive guide to the approach, methodology, pilot, and results of this project will be produced as a model to share with other organisations and as a foundation for further blended learning projects for the sector in each partner country.
The Wheel is collaborating with the European Parliament Liaison Offices as a support service provider and technical assistant in the delivery of the European Parliament Ambassador School programme.
This programme aims to create a permanently increasing network of schools, teachers, and students that engage with the European Parliament, its Members, and the Liaison Office. It encourages students to study and understand European democracy, discuss European issues, and make the most of being a European citizen through a series of programme “pillars”. Upon successfully completing the programme pillars, the school is awarded the title of European Parliament Ambassador School and students earn certificates for their participation.
Coordinating the delivery of this programme promotes The Wheel’s objective to support active citizenship by promoting the range and quality of opportunities and resources to help people get more involved in civic life, as well as celebrating and promoting the benefits of active citizenship.
This project was funded by the Communicating Europe Initiative administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Wheel received the grant in May 2018 and will deliver the project until November 2018.
The community, voluntary and charity sector and social enterprises have the unique capacity to be a conduit to even the most isolated and social excluded groups in Ireland. By activating this sector at a European level and engaging them in European programmes, we have seen how it can have a cascade effect to the wider communities in which they operate.
Organisations that do engage in European projects provide the communities they represent with unique opportunities to participate in cultural, creative, and educational exchanges and projects and benefit from word class research, innovation, and education. They showcase the value of Europe at its best and translate into real terms the meaning of European participation at community level.
European development also strengthens our sector by diversifying funding streams, fostering best practice at international standards, and promoting collaboration and innovation. In turn, our sector can aid European decision-makers by sharing their expertise and ensuring that the policies affecting them and their beneficiaries are appropriate and effective.
This project will therefore utilise civil society to disseminate information and deepen the public’s awareness of the European Union, the impact it has on our lives through its policies, and the opportunities it provides. It will ensure access to high quality information about Europe for civil society and, though a cascade effect, reach communities at all levels throughout Ireland. Finally, it will build connections between our sector and European policy makers, establishing a meaningful and sustainable dialogue that will help shape Europe’s future.
We will achieve our objective through:
- Establishing a European Project Manager Network for Irish community, voluntary and charitable organisations and social enterprises.
- A communication campaign showcasing the value of European participation in our sector.
Europe’s Future aims to build on learning gathered from The Wheel’s previous European Parliament projects funded by DGCOMM by focusing on voter activation among young people, rural communities, and the voluntary, charity and social enterprise sector in advance the 2019 European Elections. The Wheel is the lead coordinator of the project, managing the overall outputs and outcomes and working closely with partners SpunOut.ie and the Union of Students in Ireland to deliver.
As the only democratically elected EU institution, the European Parliament is the vehicle of public decision-making at an EU level. The Wheel sees it as essential to communicate its value to Irish citizens via our youth partners and member organisations. A particular concern for The Wheel, its members, and rural and younger citizens is the impact of Brexit on our economic, social, and political lives so the project will address this problem and provide opportunities to learn and discuss key issues within this context.
This project involves the organisation of a series of events, both on and offline, bringing together civil society and young people with Members of the European Parliament to discuss relevant issues, as well as the creation of informational resources and a large-scale voter registration drive.
Access Europe was a joint initiative of thirteen grantees of the Atlantic Philanthropies. This initiative was born in 2013 to build the capacity of Irish organisations to access EU funding. It was felt that the community, voluntary, charity and social enterprise sector could strongly benefit from further engagement in EU programmes.
The Access Europe project aimed to increase the:
- levels of EU funding available to Irish organisations,
- profile and impact of the work of organisations as a result of increased collaborations with national and EU policy makers and organisations from other Member States,
- capacity of Irish organisations to access and manage EU and other sources of funding,
- opportunities for shared learning across organisations accessing EU funding.
The project had two phases. The first phase comprised of a research project to assess the potential for grantees of the Atlantic Philanthropies to access EU funds. It resulted in the production of the report: Building the Capacity to Access EU Funds – 2014 and Beyond. The second phase was the setting-up of a support service to grantees of the Atlantic Philanthropies to monitor the development of European Union programmes and related funds, to identify funding opportunities, and to assist applicants to submit applications.
Download our external evaluation by Social Researcher Brian Harvey for more information on the results of this project.
The Wheel participated in two other European Parliament funded projects.
The Wheel's “Bridging the Gap” Programme in 2013 – 2014 was an initiative to bring the EU dimension alive in our discourses on where we as a people go from here. The aim of the project was to encourage and enable greater engagement between citizens and the European Parliament. The participants identified issues regarding how the EU itself functions. The theme of a greater role for the EU found form in various suggestions, including in tackling social disadvantage.
Our next project, “Civil Society & the European Parliament: Shaping Europe's Future”, built upon the findings of that first initiative. It provided forums that allow community, voluntary, and charity organisations and social enterprises to follow on from their engagement with the European Parliament on the themes that emerged during the previous programme, including:
- Social Issues
- Environmental Sustainability issues
- Civil Society Issues.
Overall outcomes for our sector through these projects were to:
- understand how these themes can be adequately addressed by the Parliament at a European level,
- understand the workings of the European Parliament and how to get these themes addressed through the appropriate committees, institutions and representatives at a European level,
- foster a continuing dialogue between the European Parliament, its MEPs and our sector that will lead to greater trust, transparency, understanding, cooperation and participation into the future.