Since our foundation 30 years ago, we have always been clear that our role is not just to build houses, but to build communities. Therefore Community Development is at the heart of Respond! work. We share the understanding of Community Development as set out by the (then) National Community Development Programme (1995).
‘Community development is about promoting positive change in society in favour of those who benefit least. It is about involving people, most especially the disadvantaged, in making changes which they identify as important and which use and develop their own skills, knowledge and experience. Community Development seeks to challenge the causes of poverty/disadvantage and to offer new opportunities for those lacking choice, power and resources.’
To this end Respond! Resident Support staff work with residents to build the capacity of their estates to become vibrant, active and safe places to live and raise families. We aim to work with the residents of our estates so that they move from being strangers moving into a new estate to becoming a community that cares for its neighbours and is able to engage as equal partners with other groups and agencies in the broader community.
This includes working with other sections of Respond! and other local and national agencies to draw in resources and programmes into our estates. A significant part of this includes working with Respond! Education Department, national universities such as NUI Maynooth and UCD, regional Education and Training Boards, and other local actors to bring training and educational programmes onto our estates. The process of this involves ensuring that our residents develop the knowledge and skills to work with these agencies on their own behalf.
The Respond! Community Chest provides part funding for many of these projects. These projects range from our three regions working closely with the communities on our estates to support them to make their communities better and safer places to live. We do this through supporting them plan and implement projects and activities on their estates and providing training and capacity building for volunteers and activists. These projects range from estate family events to training programmes, youth programmes, and community gardens.
If you would like to read our Community Development Strategy, please click here.