No one could have predicted how much the world would have changed since the publication of our first strategic plan, the Belfast Agenda, in 2017. From a global pandemic to the on-going climate emergency and war in Ukraine, to the Primark fire which closed part of our city centre and the continuing cost of living crisis, we’ve been through a lot together.
Throughout these difficult times, the strength of Community Planning partners has been central to helping us act quickly and effectively in a crisis, creating a sense of challenge and opportunity for both individual organisations and innovating how we work as a collective. The call to action created by these circumstances has forged new approaches and galvanised whole systems change in a number of areas, such as Complex Lives, where we simplify the way we work and create a model where everyone’s experience, skills and energy can be used in a more impactful way.
Nowhere more than during the pandemic was the power of our networks and our people, particularly partnership working between the statutory agencies and our community and voluntary sector, more apparent. It speaks to the energy and drive of our citizens that in addition to ensuring the safe delivery of critical services, we managed to work together to achieve aspirations such as securing the only UNESCO City of Music designation on the island of Ireland, as well as a UNESCO Learning City Award in 2021 for outstanding progress in providing learning opportunities for residents in Belfast.
Starting from this strong base, we know that whatever the next four years will bring, together we have both the will and the determination to find a way to bring the ambition that we all share for Belfast in 2035 a tangible step closer.
Together we are committed to achieving ‘inclusive growth’ on a scale that we haven’t before, creating new and better jobs, promoting training and employment opportunities, reducing inequalities and helping alleviate the impact of poverty on those most vulnerable across the city. We are still on a journey, but together we will create the city we know Belfast can be.