Community Renewal – to develop confident communities that are able and committed to improving the quality of life in their areas.

It is vital that we help communities to play a lead role in this process. This Strategy must be owned and sustained within neighbourhoods. It is therefore essential that we develop community capacity and skills. To enable this, the DSD’s Voluntary and Community Unit (VCU) will have a lead role in ensuring that the conditions for the effective support of Neighbourhood Renewal are set in place in the most deprived neighbourhoods. It can draw on strong relationships with the community sector district councils and other agencies to help ensure that support is directed to neighbourhoods where community infrastructure is not strong.

Typical activities involve:

  • developing and strengthening community infrastructure to improve the capacity of the communities;
  • Facilitating a more proactive and planned approach to community development, including identifying and promoting best practice within and between neighbourhoods;
  • supporting training and development of skills in community development and Neighbourhood Renewal, including providing support to those involved in the delivery of Neighbourhood Renewal, and increasing the capacity of the voluntary and community sector to develop locally based programmes;
  • improving community relations and reducing segregation, for example, by providing capacity building in areas of weak community infrastructure. A start has been made here through the Peace II Programme’s Area-Based Regeneration Measure, the Urban II Initiative in North Belfast and the North Belfast Community Action Unit. This work will provide indications as to how community conflict can be addressed as part of the Neighbourhood Renewal process;
  • promoting volunteering and active citizenship in the most deprived neighbourhoods; and
  • supporting Government Departments and agencies in their efforts to enhance the delivery of public services by making greater use of voluntary and community organisations in the delivery of these services.