Taoiseach’s commitment to social inclusion community activation programme is welcomed with significant challenges ahead

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THE Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) representing Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) providers and Ireland’s 46 Local Development Companies have today welcomed the Taoiseach’s involvement in the launch of the Annual Progress report 2020 with Minister for Community Development & Charities Joe O’Brien TD.

SICAP is Ireland’s primary social inclusion intervention. The programme aims to reduce poverty throughout Ireland, and promote social inclusion and equality in Ireland through supporting communities and individuals via community development, engagement and collaboration. SICAP is a national programme delivered by 46 Local Development Companies.

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Attending today’s launch of the SICAP Progress Report 2020, ILDN CEO Joe Saunders CEO said; “it was encouraging to see the Taoiseach Micheál Martin taking the time today to pay tribute to our member Local Development Companies for their contribution over the past 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. Today’s report sets out several instances of LDCs, through SICAP, providing much needed supports to vulnerable communities across the Country.

Mr Saunders also noted that: “notwithstanding the challenges of the pandemic, the programme met all targets, providing assistance to 26,178 individuals and 2,687 local community groups. Individuals also 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.”

In conclusion Mr Saunders said: “The 2020 SICAP budget of approximately €39 million stands well under half of what it was in 2008. I hope that through Minister O’Brien’s continued commitment to the Programme and the Taoiseach’s personal interest that this can be addressed in Budget 2022. The challenge of Social Inclusion only grows post Covid and resources will be critical in bridging the digital divide and supporting new Communities, Travellers, those most distant from the workforce and all of those our LDCs support on an ongoing basis.”