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Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland

Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland

by Aideen McGinley, Co-Chair, Carnegie Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in NI

1 April 2015 marked the biggest transformation in local government in Northern Ireland since the Local Government Act (1972) created 26 single-tier district councils.

With the reduction in the number of local authorities from 26 to 11, local government sought to be more efficient, creative, flexible, and crucially, more able to give power to the people it works to support. With the new structures came new powers and responsibilities – most notably, in Community Planning.

Northern Ireland is now almost four years into its new local government system, and at a critical point in its development. The Executive showed leadership in committing to a wellbeing and outcomes-based approach nationally in the draft Programme for Government, and now that the Executive is suspended, the duty is on local government and the 11 Community Planning Partnerships to improve wellbeing at a local level. The Community Planning Partnerships are now seeking to implement their Community Plans, to move from rhetoric to reality. Independent analysis commissioned by the Carnegie UK Trust found that while all of the Community Plans had aligned to the Programme for Government and to varying degrees, adopted both the outcomes-based approach and the language of wellbeing, challenges remain - but with challenge comes opportunity.

To build on the legacy of the Carnegie Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland, the Trust developed Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland, a three-year project offering significant financial and in-kind support for up to three Community Planning Partnerships to implement a local wellbeing outcomes approach. After an open Expression of Interest process, our independent external Advisory Group selected Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council; Derry City and Strabane District Council; and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council to receive support on the challenges they have experienced in delivering their Community Plans and enable them to share their learning with the wider Community Planning network. However, it has become clear that even with our help, they cannot do this alone.

With the CO3 Leadership Conference 2019 just over a week away, now is an ideal time to reflect on the role of the Community and Voluntary Sector in Community Planning. With different structures and mechanisms for engagement with the sector across the Community Planning network, the conference presents an opportunity to listen to the experiences of Third Sector leaders, to learn, and to develop a plan of action.

At the Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland workshop in the afternoon, we’ll be asking the audience to consider what role the Community and Voluntary Sector can play in Community Planning – what is possible, what can be built on, and what is good practice? We’ll be asking attendees to conside how we can overcome the traditional relationship between local government and the Community and Voluntary Sector to encourage new ways of working, and on which activities and outcomes is the sector particularly well-placed to lead in the delivery of Community Planning Action Plans.

Third Sector leaders have unparalleled insight into these questions, and into the potential, and limitations, of the sector in helping to deliver Northern Ireland’s Community Plans. Only they know how the sector can support the involvement of their members, clients and stakeholders in Community Planning and ensure that is does not become too burdensome or time consuming; how to engage with them most effectively; and crucially, how best to report back on how their views have been taken forward. They are uniquely placed to ensure that the Community Plans deliver services which are effective, timely, and truly cross-sector - and improve the wellbeing of Northern Ireland’s communities, because communities are truly at the heart of the Plans.

The Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland workshop will take place at 1pm at the C03 Leadership Conference 2019. The workshop will be Chaired by Aideen McGinley, Chair of the Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland project, assisted by Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy at the Carnegie UK Trust, and feature representatives from the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon; Derry City and Strabane; and Lisburn and Castlereagh Community Planning Partnerships.



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