An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, joined Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD, on Saturday, 3rd July 2021to launch the 2020 Annual Progress Report for the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP).
The programme, co-funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) and the European Social Fund (ESF), is Ireland’s primary dedicated social inclusion support. It works to strengthen communities, reduce poverty and address social exclusion among the most marginalised groups and individuals who are furthest from mainstream supports and society.
The annual report highlights the importance of the programme, as well as the Local Development Companies and Local Community Development Committees that deliver the programme, to the COVID-19 response for the most marginalised in Ireland.
Launching the report with Joe O’Brien T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, An Taoiseach said:
“I’m delighted to launch the 2020 Annual Progress Report for the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme with Minister Joe O’Brien in Cork today.
“The SICAP Annual Report clearly shows the vital support this programme provides to many communities, including thirty thousand children and young people, and over nine thousand parents and guardians, helped in the last year.”
“The dedication of SICAP workers across the country has resulted in life-changing impacts for many people.”
“Companies such as Cork City Partnership, Ballyhoura Development, SECAD, IRD Duhallow, Avondhu Blackwater Partnership and West Cork Development provide a range of critical supports for our marginalised communities and these have proved critical during a time of unprecedented challenges.”
Minister O’Brien said:
“I am delighted to be able to return to Cork alongside the Taoiseach and I thank him for accepting my invitation to launch this report and help highlight the vitally important work of SICAP. I am very proud of SICAP – its importance as the State’s key tool for addressing social inclusion, particularly at a time of national crisis, cannot be overstated. This is confirmed by the annual report which highlights the importance and flexibility of the programme during the pandemic as well as the capacity and expertise of staff in Local Development Companies who responded so effectively to ensure the needs of the communities they serve continued to be met at the height of the public health crisis. SICAP will be facing new challenges as we progress the social recovery from COVID and I am committed to supporting the programme to do just that”.
The annual progress report was commissioned and completed by Pobal which manages the programme on behalf of the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Pobal CEO, Ms Anna Shakespeare, said:
“The ‘Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) Annual Progress Report 2020’ explores how the programme adapted and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is an important piece of work and I very much welcome its launch today. It not only highlights the positive contribution and value of the Local Development Companies’ (LDCs) presence in communities across the country but also highlights how their existing relationships with communities, local groups and other organisations enabled them to identify local needs and participate in collaborative responses through SICAP during a challenging time. This has shone a light on the positive role that SICAP plays in delivering wider social inclusion supports at community level.”
“Pobal is committed to working closely with the Department of Rural and Community Development, Local Community Development Committees, Local Development Companies and other stakeholders to continue to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality by supporting communities and individuals across Ireland.”
Notwithstanding the challenges of the pandemic, the programme met all targets, providing assistance to 26,178 individuals and 2,687 local community groups. Individuals continued to receive a consistent level of person-centred supports through SICAP. While COVID-19 negatively impacted progression rates, particularly during the initial months of the pandemic, a total of 8,768 individuals (33%) had participated in lifelong learning activities, 1,057 (4%) had progressed into employment and 1,274 (5%) had set up their own business by the end of the year.
SICAP played an important role in responding to the needs of communities: During COVID-19, LDCs’ existing relationships with communities, local groups and other organisations meant that they were well placed to identify local needs and participate in collaborative responses through SICAP. Examples of collaborative projects undertaken to address the needs of Travellers and Roma are documented in the report.
The 2020 Annual Progress Report for the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme can be found here.