Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne has encouraged all stakeholders to have their say on the new programme to address poverty, long term unemployment and social exclusion. The Minister was speaking at the first of the consultation events by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government on the next iteration of the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, SICAP.
SICAP aims is to address poverty, long term unemployment and social exclusion, through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.
Speaking at the consultation event today Minister Byrne said: “The thing that strikes me most about the current SICAP programme is its diversity, the huge variety of work being done in communities and its capacity in addressing real problems and in assisting real people who are experiencing sometimes very challenging difficulties. Some of what I experienced at the front-line, especially during my time working as a volunteer in my own community, was the need for people to be heard, to be supported, and to be put on course to making the right decisions for themselves and their families.”
Over €100 million has been invested in communities through SICAP since it commenced in April 2015. This includes an allocation of €19 million under the European Social Fund (ESF) Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020 and the Youth Employment Initiative. SICAP has helped provide building blocks for local and community development in Ireland and part of its vision is to improve the life chances and opportunities of those who are marginalised in society or living in poverty. SICAP comes to an end in December 2017 and the Department has now commenced a consultation process, involving key stakeholders, to help inform the next iteration of the programme, which is due to commence in 2018.
Minister Byrne said “I witnessed, first hand, the care, sensitivity and commitment shown to the harder to reach through SICAP services. SICAP is a vital support for communities and today is the start of a process to ensure that it remains so into the future. While no major overhaul of SICAP is on the cards there is a need for fresh thinking and innovation. The tried and tested method or the ‘safe’ approach is not always the right one. We always have to look at what can be improved and strengthened. I would encourage everyone to have their say on this very important issue.”
Web site: www.housing.gov.ie