The Rainbow Project, in partnership with the Equality Commission, Community Places and Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, hosted a conference this morning (Friday 27 April 2012) discussing Community Planning and how government can ensure the voices of minority and marginalised communities in that process.
Community Planning offers a great opportunity for communities and service providers to work together to make real differences within local communities. Councils and community / voluntary groups, along with local residents, can work together to map out plans for improving their areas through this process. Best practice demonstrates that those models of Community Planning which have been the most successful are those that have placed a greater emphasis on quality engagement, ensuring that all members of the community have an opportunity to have their voice heard.
Matthew McDermott, Equality Officer at The Rainbow Project speaking before the conference said, “This conference will significantly help to raise awareness of Community Planning, not only across the community and voluntary sector but with statutory agencies and local authorities. The conference aims to explore how best the voices of minority and marginalised communities can be recognised and acknowledged as an integral part of the Community Planning process across all local authorities”.
“It offers the opportunity for community and voluntary groups that work in communities across Northern Ireland to get a better understanding of what Community Planning is and how they can work better with their council to achieve better results for the people they work for and on behalf of”.
“It is particularly important to The Rainbow Project that government at all levels begins to mainstream LGBT issues in the work they do, begins to engage with LGBT people in their area and begins working with and for all people in their community. Community Planning offers the best opportunity for councils to do this. I hope participants are better informed about Community Planning and how to get involved after the conference, and I hope that the Department of the Environment starts to think about how best to ensure the voices of minority communities in this process”.
- As part of the Local Government Reforms, the number of councils will be reduced from 26 to 11 and the new councils will be given additional powers including Community Planning. Local Councils will have a duty to facilitate the Community Planning process through working in partnership with statutory agencies and community and voluntary organisations to address the needs of local communities.