The future direction taken by the Community Development Programme
is being led by the bottom-up as well as the top-down, as it should
be. The Programme is 18 years old and the projects within it –
all working in areas of disadvantage – bring positive change to
hard-pressed communities throughout the country. Around 2000 local volunteers
are part of the Programme and it is a key part of the new NDP. Last
year, a consultation process was begun and it has taken on a life of
Minister of State,
John Curran TD
Dublin Mid-West TD, John Curran, is the new Minister of State with
special responsibility for Drugs Strategy and Community Affairs at the
Department of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs. Taoiseach, Brian
Cowen, appointed Pat Carey, who held the position for 11 months, as
his new ‘Chief Whip’.
The Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs wishes to
establish “three multi-operator framework agreements over a four-year
period for training and support services” to CDPs.
Sean McLaughlin, DCRGA
The tender specifies that the eventual service providers will have to “provide quality support in the form of direct and indirect training and development support to volunteer board members and staff of Projects. It will be possible to provide support on a regional or national basis,” it adds. The tender is open to regional support agencies that worked with the Programme before as well as other interested parties.
There will be a separate tender competition for the community development training and support. In the Limerick area, for the time being, CDP co-ordinators are discussing the idea of providing training to volunteers in neighbouring projects.
NEW NETWORKING STRUCTURE
Meanwhile, the Department’s Assistant Principal Officer, Sean McLaughlin, has written to projects, saying: “Considerable skills and talents of both volunteers and staff that have been developed over the years. As part of the overall support structures, we intend to harness this experience and learning through formal networking arrangements at local, regional and national level and I will advise Projects in this regard at a further date.”
In addition, the Department is progressing towards the introduction of formal networking arrangements at local, regional and national level, as part of the future support structure for projects. He said that plans are being laid by the Department for a national conference.
“We remain fully committed to the development of volunteers and staff of Projects and to providing support services where needs are identified,” he added.
PROVIDING ONGOING SUPPORT
Sean has confirmed the Department will step in to provide support, including funding to CDPs, in the interim period while a new support structure is being put in place.
“We are positively disposed to project’s needs, once they specify what those needs are,” declared Sean.
“New centralised support arrangements should be in place by the end of September. In the interim, projects have been afforded some flexibility by providing them with, albeit limited, resources to procure services that meet their training and development needs.
He urged people “not to hesitate to contact your Departmental contact if you have any further queries, particularly where any matter arises that you consider may require additional assistance.”
Regional representatives – staff and volunteers - of the National
Consultative Panel (NCP) have taken the very difficult decision to resign
from NCP. The reasons for our actions are laid out in the letter we
sent to Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, Junior Minister
John Curran and Department officials informing them of our decision.
Programme and has asked each CDP to contribute to a fund that should
help make it happen.
Emma hopes the study will be launched by December (and not September,
as she initially hoped for). A CDP in Dublin is pushing hard to set
up a national office for the Community Development
Each management committee in the country was asked to discuss the proposal, so Emma’s argument needed to be strong. She wrote to say a national office is required as a matter of urgency:
“Despite a ‘review’ of the Programme having taken place, there is no indication that a clear understanding of future development priorities has emerged. This is even more serious given the important developments taking place in the local development environment overall (through the cohesion process for example). Given its long-standing history and acknowledged impact, the Community Development Programme should provide a very strong and informed voice in this process. Instead of this it remains silent.”
She said the sense of powerlessness arises, to some extent, from a lack of understanding of both the nature and significant contribution made by community development: “Even though the last evaluation of the Programme (by Nexus in 2000) clearly demonstrated the very positive impacts of CDPs, there was no effort since at Programme level to follow through on this report’s key recommendations.”
She says there is now a very real danger that the programme’s future may be shaped by a misunderstanding of its key strengths and that any chance of addressing these challenges rests in the hands of projects.
A national office would mean the Programme has some say at national policy level and the office would help to promote the Programme’s achievements.
She invites projects to pay €200 each towards the cost of a feasibility study to see how best to move the proposal forward.
For more information, contact:
Emma Freeman, Programme Manager, CAP, Axis Community Centre, Ballymun, Dublin 9.
In June, 2007, Conor Lenihan from Dublin South West was appointed Minister
of State with special responsibility for Integration Policy at the Department
of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Department of Education
and Science, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. He
was re-appointed to the position in May of this year.
|- Moyross magazine is a “voice” for the sector
The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon
Ó Cuív, has praised ‘Changing Ireland’ for
providing community development workers and volunteers around the country
with a "voice" and a "central forum" for debate
on issues relevant to the sector.
Minister Éamon Ó Cuív checks out our 25th Issue
With humour, he described what happened most publications he receives, but assured everyone that ‘Changing Ireland’ was one magazine that does not hit his waste-paper basket as soon as it comes in.
The articles were “very readable, they are interesting, they relate to ordinary people’s lives and they are practical, they talk about the way it is. And yes, you sometimes say things we mightn’t agree with, but… as a politician, when somebody really challenges you, it does perk you up and maybe make you think in a new direction and that needs to happen all the time.”
During his speech, the Minister talked of “a big divide in our society” and, in reference to urban deprivation effecting young people in particular, he said that education and activities were key. He drew attention to the way society is “very much structured against” young people from urban disadvantaged areas going on to third level education.
He also spoke of achievements under RAPID, the full country coverage by the Partnerships and about the Community Development Programme’s permanent place in tackling disadvantage within communities.
Editor Allen Meagher said, “It is a sign of a healthy democracy and a credit to Minister Éamon Ó Cuív and his Department that they fund a magazine that sometimes reflects critical views on local and national social policy. They value communities having a voice. ‘Changing Ireland’ is proud to be the voice for many of the so-called ‘disadvantaged’ communities. And when we name a problem, we can also name a proven solution.”
Over the years, he said ‘Changing Ireland’ had highlighted "proven responses to suicide, antisocial behaviour, rural isolation and many other solutions to supposedly impossible problems".
The launch took place at the AGM of the Community Development Network Moyross, which manages ‘Changing Ireland’ on behalf of the Community Development Programme. During his visit, the Minister met with CDP volunteers and packers from the area.
|“Many of the members of our Board of Management’s initial
contact with the organisation was through using the resources of the organisation. (As a result, there are) two lone parents on our fundraising sub-group,
two on the steering committee for the Teen Parent Support Initiative and
one co-facilitating activities with a staff member.”
- Doras Buí CDP
“We have supported three Traveller parents, two of now whom volunteer their time for the project. This has led to greater involvement by Traveller parents in their children’s educational progress.”
- Tallaght Travellers CDP
is “very timely”, says Ahern
than any bookie – CDPs triple your money
Of a total of 65 projects in the Eastern Region, the ‘Rekindling The Fire’ report looked at a sample of 36 CDPs to demonstrate the range of activities engaged in, impacts and challenges. The report also measures their income-generating ability and CDPs are a better bet than any bookies – because they triple the money they get.
Using 2003 as a baseline, the 36 projects received just over €1.1m in core funding from the Community Development Programme (representing an average of just over €87,000 per project). The projects went on to generate more than twice that amount in other funding for the same year.
Yearly evaluation findings feed into report
‘Rekindling The Fire’ was largely compiled from yearly evaluations (under an internet-based evaluation system called SPEAK). Most of the content outlines and describes the activities and work-practices of 36 sample projects in the eastern region.
The was drawn up following discussion between representatives of Eastern Region projects in the Community Development Programme and Nexus.
The report aims to:
• Provide a resource that will assist projects in the acknowledgement and promotion of the work undertaken in their own areas and with their own communities.
• Contribute to building a sense of identity in the continuation of this work locally and regionally.
The report comes in six sections:
1. Section One - a short programme history.
2. Section Two - a description of what the projects do.
3. Section Three - outlines the common or shared characteristics between projects.
4. Section Four - a summary of the main achievements of projects in the region
and the principal impacts for communities.
if there were no CDPs?
CDPs are at the centre of the ‘social inclusion development infrastructure’ in Ireland. Without them, according to ‘Rekindling The Fire’, the following would happen:
• opportunities for social participation and progression for a large number of people would be lost;
• a range of programmes aimed at including the most excluded would become impossible to deliver;
• a range of other local organisations and projects would cease to exist;
• very important lessons on the causes and responses to disadvantage would be lost.
The Community Development Programme, since its inception in 1989, has undergone significant change and has grown from 15 projects to 180 projects. Now, CDPs are at the centre of a ‘social inclusion development infrastructure’.
“The CDP is a unique Programme which is right at he heart of the nations struggle against poverty and social exclusion,” wrote one stalwart of community development in Dublin.
Writing in ‘Rekindling The Fire’, Rita Fagan of St. Michael’s Resource Centre CDP said: “This document is a celebration of what we have achieved as well as a beacon of hope regarding what is possible in the future to overcome these problems of inequality which are a blight on our society,” .
She is one of a small group of people in the Eastern Region who have been in the Programme since it began in 1990.