This Saturday marks the 99th anniversary of the death of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-born philanthropist whose legacy and mission of improving ‘the wellbeing of the people of Great Britain and Ireland’ continue to this day through the work of the Carnegie UK Trust.
The Trust’s latest initiative aimed at furthering Carnegie’s goals was announced in June, with the naming of the three local authorities set to participate in the Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland project. The Community Planning Partnerships working in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon; Derry City and Strabane; and Lisburn and Castlereagh were selected to receive financial and in-kind support from the Trust for the next two and a half years.
The investment is the Trust’s largest single investment within its current strategic plan to improve wellbeing anywhere across the UK, and will act to help improve wellbeing at the local level as the current political impasse continues.
All 11 Community Planning Partnerships applied to participate in the project, and all are to be commended for their commitment to community planning. It was clear that a good deal of work has gone into ensuring that the community plans reflect the needs and aspirations of the localities each council serves.
Through the Trust’s expression of interest process, we were exposed to stellar examples of the spirit of community planning in action. We’re delighted to shine a light on these so that Northern Ireland might become a leader in this area throughout the UK and Ireland.
Looking at the applications, we found a number of common themes throughout the self-identified successes and challenges of the Community Planning Partnerships. We plan to act on this information for the benefit of all.
How will we do this? First of all, the learning generated by our participants as part of the programme in overcoming their own challenges will be shared with the wider Community Planning Partnerships network to help improve local wellbeing across Northern Ireland, and align the approach taken at the local level with the outcomes framework in the Draft Programme for Government.
Secondly, we are developing a peer-to-peer support model which will see our project participants share what they have identified as their strengths to date – be it community engagement, working with young people or partnership working – with the other Community Planning Partnerships who recognise these as their challenges.
Thirdly, the enthusiasm and expertise of stakeholders across Northern Ireland, and beyond, who have expressed an interest in supporting the project will be harnessed for participants and the wider Community Planning Partnerships to utilise over the next two and a half years.
Finally, as the challenges of data collection and use were mentioned by all applicants, we’ll follow up on these issues with the Northern Ireland Executive and NISRA to find out what can be done to support Community Planning Partnerships to change evidence into action.
We look forward to working with the three councils until 2020, but also to investing our in-kind resources, support networks, and convening power in improving local wellbeing outcomes for all across Northern Ireland.
Aideen McGinley is Chair of Carnegie UK Trust’s Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland Advisory Group and Co-Chair of the Carnegie Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland.
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