The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Mr Michael Ring TD, today announced a major investment by the Government to tackle disadvantage in Ireland. The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), which is overseen by the Department of Rural and Community Development, will provide €190 million over five years (2018-2022) to support the most disadvantaged individuals and communities in our society. Minister Ring made the announcement in Southill Area Centre in Limerick City.
SICAP, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund, supports unemployed people, people living in deprived areas, people with disabilities, single parent families, people on low income, members of the Traveller and Roma community and other disadvantaged groups.
Minister Ring said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to to tackle poverty and social exclusion in the most disadvantaged areas for the next five years. Working at a local level with community groups and individuals, SICAP funding supports life-long learning, strengthens communities and helps people to become job ready. By providing practical guidance and supports the programme helps disadvantaged people throughout the country to make progress in their lives and to realise their potential.”
The programme, which is administered by Pobal and overseen at a community level by the Local Community Development Committees, has a proven track record of helping disadvantaged people to make progress in their lives.
Between 2015 and 2017 with the assistance of SICAP:
· 110,000 people were supported on a 1:1 basis
· 5,030 local community groups received assistance
· 9,720 gained a higher qualification
· 5,801 people got jobs
· 15,923 people set up a new business – which created 1,695 full-time jobs
· 38,352 people took part in life-long learning courses
Over 29% of these recipients lived in disadvantaged areas and 40% of them came from a jobless household.
Minister Ring continued: “SICAP provides support to those who need it most in all corners of Ireland, from areas of inner city Dublin to rural Ireland. Individuals and groups can visit their Local Development Company to receive the support they need. The programme is a great example of local engagement working well within the framework of a national programme.”
Denis Leamy, CEO of Pobal which administers the programme, said: “SICAP 2018-2022 not only takes into account Ireland’s changing economic landscape but has an increased focus on targeting the most disadvantaged individuals and communities using community development approaches, more intense engagement, and greater collaboration with other agencies. It is aimed at people who are less likely to use mainstream supports, providing one-to-one and group supports. SICAP 2018-2022 has learned from and improved upon the previous SICAP 2015-2017. As the organisation with responsibility for the national management and oversight of SICAP, Pobal looks forward to assisting the Department of Rural Community Development, LCDCs and Local Development Companies in the delivery of SICAP over the next five years.”
The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), whose members implement the SICAP programme across the state, have welcomed the new programme and its design. Chairperson Marie Bolger said: “We welcome the Government’s significant investment and commitment to tackle social exclusion through this programme. It will allow our members, whose approach is community-based and community-led, to advance the social inclusion needs of disadvantaged individuals and groups on a planned basis over the next five years. ILDN looks forward to supporting our members in their delivery of the programme.”