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Community wellbeing & planning 17 December 2020

Voluntary, community and social enterprise groups have come together to share their experience of improving the lives of people and communities across Belfast city (via Belfast City Council)

As well as reflecting on local experience, participants heard from the Welsh Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe and Sarah Gadsden, Chief Executive of the Scottish Improvement Service.

Both shared their experience of partnership working, statutory innovation and public policy development from Scotland and Wales at a critical time for communities and community planning across the UK and Ireland. 

Looking to Executive and Belfast City recovery plans participants also heard from Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín MLA and Belfast City Chief Executive Suzanne Wylie.

Speaking to nearly two hundreds delegate, VCSE Advisory Panel and Conference Chair Irene Sherry set out the importance of community planning and the centrality of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in delivering better outcomes for people and communities at this important time.

“We have all seen the benefits of partnership working in the collective response to the COVID–19 crisis earlier this year. As well as reflecting the experience of the last number of months, we wanted to think and plan for the future.  

“Today is a great opportunity to hear how our neighbours, in Edinburgh and Cardiff have reflected local needs, approaches and priorities institutionally to drive shared wellbeing agenda. 

“We envisage that the conversations started and the insights shared today will form the basis for further conversations, informing both the development and implementation of key city and regional strategies for many years to come.”

Minister Ní Chuilín said: “My Department has been fully committed to supporting the community response to the pandemic.  We have worked closely with council partners to ensure that the community frontline has been supported to respond to local needs.  Partnership and collaborative working has been the lynchpin of our collective response to this crisis.  Community Planning and the collective leadership of central and local government and grass roots community organisations, working together, is more important than ever as we emerge from the pandemic and take on the shared challenges.” 

Reflecting on 2020, Suzanne Wylie Chief Executive of Belfast City Council said: “Time and again people have commented that one of Belfast’s greatest strengths is its people and its sense of community. This was clearly demonstrated by the response to COVID–19 across this city where communities rallied round to support their neighbours and others in need.

“Whilst much of Belfast City Council’s efforts are currently focussed on addressing the challenges presented by the pandemic, we are also planning for the future so that we ensure that we make the strongest possible recovery.

“We recently published a document called ‘Belfast: Our Recovery’ which identifies the areas we need to focus on in the coming months and sets out how we hope to build the foundations for a sustained recovery alongside our community planning partners.”