For Oral Answer on : 13/06/2023
Question Number(s): 95 Question Reference(s): 28308/23
Department: Rural and Community Development
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the action she is taking to support communities in forming community organisations where none currently exists; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
From 2018-2022, I am delighted to say that SICAP has supported up to 2,000 new groups or organisations and 3,838 existing community groups with various forms of support from conducting needs assessments to understand the challenges and requirements of the community to developing plans and recruiting volunteers who can contribute to aspects of administrative, marketing, program implementation etc.
Local Development Companies (LDCs) also offer supports to develop governance and policies, secure funding and build partnerships with other community organisations and local government agencies. They help to develop a long term sustainability plan to ensure an organisation’s continued operation and impact.
My Department also has overall responsibility for the funding, governance oversight and development of Public Participation Networks (PPNs). The focus of the PPN is to empower and assist volunteer-led community representative groups to participate in local authority policymaking and decision-making. This gives local community groups a greater say in local government decisions which affect their own communities.
In addition, my Department also provides funding of just over €2 million for the Empowering Communities Programme (ECP). The ECP aims to empower local communities in small, targeted areas to craft their own response to area based poverty, social exclusion and the resulting consequences, with the support of the relevant Local Community Development Committee (LCDC). The programme funds a Community Engagement Worker to work directly with people to link them to existing services and to articulate their needs. For example, in Athy, the engagement worker covers 5 housing estates in a small area, working door to door to encourage people to re-engage as community Leaders through residents groups, participation in local governance structures.
Similarly, the pilot Place-Based Leadership Development (P-BLD) Programme is being delivered in Darndale and Drogheda further to recommendations from the Nolan and Geiran reports. The Programme is an investment in local leaders to help them address the challenges experienced in those areas. The programme aims to strengthen the capacity of those already working hard to improve the quality of community life in Darndale and Drogheda, encouraging collaboration and empowering new community leaders to tackle the problems they face.
My Department also provides funding for the pilot Community Development Programme. The programme aims to trial community development initiatives that address poverty, social exclusion and inequality and promote human rights. The programme is currently providing funding to seven projects that are trialing an autonomous Community Development approach and giving voice to the most marginalised groups such as Roma, vulnerable groups in Inner City Dublin, migrants and new communities, Travellers and people with disabilities, to enable them to build relationships with the relevant main stream services. An expansion of the programme to include three additional projects was announced in May 2023. The extension of this impactful programme demonstrates my commitment to further advance the Programme for Government.
In addition, my Department provides funding, through the Dormant Accounts Fund, to Rethink Ireland’s Social Innovation Fund to assist innovative non-profit organisations working in communities across the country. Rethink Ireland creates funds to help innovations rise to the challenges of the most pressing issues across five key themes of Health, Education, Equality, Social Enterprise, and Climate. Cash grants and business supports enable social innovations to develop and maximise their impact within their communities.