Listening to communities: Belfast Community Investment Programme (BCIP)We have been working with the Department for Social Development (DSD) to design new and better ways to support Belfast's community development sector.
Our approach, called the Belfast Community Investment Programme (BCIP), establishes an annual £5.4 million commitment to support the sector to deliver a series of joint outcomes for Belfast.
Under its current timetable it was planned that, subject to formal consultation, BCIP would open for applications from community organisations across the city in October 2013 for funding for the 2014/15 financial year. The project aimed to run a year ahead of the transfer of functions under Local Government Reform. The rationale for this pilot year was that it would give the community development sector, and the council, an opportunity to prepare for the wider transfer and to gather learning that could be shared with other partners and councils.
Together with DSD, we have spent many months engaging on the ideas for the design of the programme. This has been a time-consuming process, but has ensured that stakeholders have been involved in the development of BCIP from the outset. There appears to be genuine enthusiasm for the concepts behind BCIP and its outcomes. The sector in particular has been encouraged by the long-term public sector commitment to community development that BCIP represents.
During this pre-consultation period the sector has also raised a number of issues and challenges for BCIP. There were concerns that the October 2013 date would be too early for the sector to adequately prepare for a new fund and that the pace of change is too fast. There were also concerns with attempting to deliver a new approach to community development ahead of other local government reforms. That said, many others have pointed to the advantages of this approach which clarifies and champions the role of the community development sector during the reform period.
Working with councillors and the DSD Minister we will consider the issues raised during the pre-consultation period. Over the next few weeks we will reflect on any implications for our approach to the new programme and consider and agree a way forward.
Full details will be available on this site in early June 2013. If you'd like to be kept up to date please send your details to email@example.com.
In the meantime, here's some background information on the work to date which has informed the BCIP proposal.
Background to BCIP
1. Making the case for community developmentIn developing BCIP we first needed to explain what we mean by community development and describe the unique contribution it has to offer in communities across the city, but particularly in disadvantaged areas dealing with complex social and economic issues.
We began with our new Community Development strategy, which had broad approval from the community and voluntary sectors in Belfast. The strategy's definition of community development has now also been adopted by DSD as a basis for our discussions on outcomes.
The definition states:
Community development activity is the main means by which we can be better engaged with local people and support their involvement in improving the city and its neighbourhoods. It enables people to come together to:
- influence or take decisions about issues that matter to them and that affect their lives
- define needs, issues and solutions for their community
- take action to help themselves and make a difference.
- Download the Executive Summary of the Community Development strategy (PDF - 1.63KB)
- Download the Community Development strategy [PDF - 191KB]
2. Defining community development outcomesWorking from the definition of community development, we needed to decide on the main outcomes we want BCIP to contribute to and how we could measure its impact. The community and voluntary sector made a valuable contribution to this phase of the project through the pre-consultation. This was aimed at considering the long-term impact of community development activity and how BCIP could best support it.
With a clear set of outcomes it is much easier:
- to have a shared sense of purpose, allowing us to work on common goals and long-term solutions
- to design appropriate grant schemes that will fund groups and help them achieve these shared outcomes
- to identify ways to monitor and evaluate the work of groups while at the same time measuring the success of the entire programme
- to identify other activity beyond grant funding that the council and government can deliver to help contribute to the outcomes.
- Download Towards an Outcomes Framework by Gabriel Chanan (PDF - 127KB)
- Download Current Community Development Programmes - Outcomes and Indicators (PDF – 92KB)
- Download the Community Workshops Report (PDF - 1.54MB)
- Download the Online Survey Report (PDF - 1.17MB)
3. Agreeing the outcomes frameworkDrawing from the results of this work we developed a framework for BCIP. It defines the impact that community development is expected to have in the city and identifies ways we might measure this impact.
The framework was agreed by Belfast City Council in February 2013.
- Download a copy of the Outcomes Framework for BCIP (PDF – 1.27KB)
- residents are active and involved
- communities are engaged and influential.
- community groups are more resilient and thriving
- people have access to welcoming and inclusive community space
- people have access to services and support.
Providing support to the community and voluntary sectorWe've committed to working with the community and voluntary sector to prepare for the new programme and its application process. We're also committed to working with the sector during the life of the programme. BCIP is not just about providing grant funding; it's about the entire range of coordinated support that the council and DSD can provide to the community sector in the city.
If you feel that your organisation would benefit from some support please contact the BCIP office on 028 9027 0579 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grant schemes affected by BCIPTogether with DSD, we are planning to close six existing community development grant schemes in Belfast and use the budgets for these schemes to support BCIP.
The schemes that will end are:
- Neighbourhood Renewal Fund for community development in Belfast (managed by the Belfast Regeneration Office, BRO)
- Community Investment Fund in Belfast (managed by the Voluntary and Community Unit, or VCU)
- Community Support Programme (part funded by VCU) funding, which includes the Capacity Grant Programme, revenue funding for community facilities, the Small Grants Fund and funding for the city's advice and information consortia.
- View a list of groups funded during 2012 and 2013 (PDF - 39KB)