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MEN in Childcare

OPINION

Making the Programme work on the ground By Gearoid Fitzgibbon

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he Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) is the main state-funded community development programme in Ireland, with a budget of €63.4million, a staff of around 3,000 and a wide range of social actions carried out by 51 Local Development Companies.

A QUESTION OF IMAGE

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hese companies suffer an image/branding deficit. They all have individual names, and if locally recognised, are not readily identified by the general public as part of a single Government-funded programme. My own organisation is the misfortunately titled ‘North Tipperary LEADER Partnership”. Neither “LEADER” nor “partnership” are very intelligible to the general public. Similar organisations in Scotland are called “Community Planning Partnerships.”

NO VISIBLE OUTCOMES

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fter the McCarthy Report in 2009 slated the programmes that existed before the LCDP as having “no visible outcomes”, POBAL launched a computerised system (called IRIS) to better record the benefits of the new programme. This needs to be used to share learning between projects in different parts of the country, instead of community development organisations operating like separate fiefdoms. In addition, IRIS needs to avoid narrow interpretations of “outcomes” and overcentralised micro-management that it could breed.

to retain the ethos of empowerment of and service to communities. Board members can bring a huge amount to the table but need to connect to the work of staff. And what of the proposed merger with County Councils? Is that the end of Partnership? Whatever shape develops, community workers must continue to serve communities, develop bottom-up community projects and support volunteers. Community development must not be turned into a box-ticking exercise to satisfy the imbibers at the “Doheny and Nesbit” School of Economics. * Gearoid Fitzgibbon is chairperson of Changing Ireland Community Media Ltd.

CORPORATE OR COMMUNITY?

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he local development companies, made up of smaller groups amalgamated in 2007 and 2010, have the benefits of economies of scale, but also the weaknesses of large organisations. It is down to individual staff and managers to counter managerialism and

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VOLUNTEER… to do something with a family member.

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