8 great expectations :: a landmark and unique social regeneration plan

A unique feature of the regeneration of Fatima is the equal emphasis that has been given to the social and physical regeneration of this community. A five-year Social Regeneration Plan was been produced to complement the physical regeneration programme.

This visionary and ambitious Plan contained thirty-seven areas for action across eight key themes which are viewed as integral to supporting the existing population into the future and promoting the integration of the regenerated community with the wider Rialto area.

The eight themes were as follows:

1. Creating a Safe & Sustainable Community

2. Education

3. Health & Wellbeing

4. Enterprise Training & Employment

5. Arts & Culture

6. Sports & Recreation

7. Environment

8. Planning & Design of Community Facilities

The Social Regeneration Plan has been funded in part by a dividend from the Public Private Partnership with the remainder coming from other public and private sources, including The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Irish Youth Foundation. The Plan has been rolled out in parallel with the physical regeneration from 2005 to 2009.

An independent review of the implementation of the Plan was undertaken by Owen Keenan in 2008 which highlighted many of the following achievements and outcomes to which the Social Regeneration Plan contributed during the review period:

• The stabilisation of the community leading to real improvements in the overall quality of life of residents through the addressing of anti-social behaviour and related issues by means of a progressive partnership between the community, Dublin City Council and An Garda Síochána;

• The implementation of comprehensive Strategies in the areas of Education, Health, Enterprise, Sports and the Arts;

• The significant development and expansion of pre-school services Improvements in the organisation, delivery, evaluation and quality of Out of School Time programming through the Rialto Learning Community initiative aimed at achieving improved outcomes for children and young people;

• Increased progression by young people to third level education (seven young people commenced third level courses in autumn 2009) and participation of adults in return to education initiatives with the VEC;

• The development of IT training in partnership with the Dublin Institute of Technology for residents of all ages through the Fatima Digital Community Project;

• The provision of a range of community programmes and alternative therapies by the Fatima Health Initiative;

• The development of a a Community Health Strategy entitled Community Health, Community Wealth arising from a Participatory Research and Action Programme;

• The establishment of the Rialto Community Health Forum to link residents’ health needs to emerging Primary Care services;

• The employment of local people in real and sustainable employment including the provision of apprenticeships, both with the developer’s sub-contractors and with Dublin City Council; General Operative positions both on site as part of the physical redevelopment and within Dublin City Council;

• and employment in operating and sustaining the new community facilities. This employment has played a vital role in breaking the cycle of disadvantage and has enabled young people and the long-term unemployed to look forward to a brighter future;

• The development of a range of environmental initiatives involving children and young people;

• The staging of community festivals and arts events with large participation levels featuring residents of all ages.

While the implementation of the Social Regeneration Plan has led to considerable gains for local residents in terms of their capacity and aspirations for a better quality of life, Keenan concluded that much remains to be done to consign the legacy of disadvantage to the past and that while the physical regeneration process may be nearly complete, social regeneration will require continued commitment and support over the coming years.