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Community planning in Northern Ireland – shared leadership in a time of crisis

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CES has been working with the Carnegie Trust to embed a wellbeing approach into community planning which is being led by local government in Northern Ireland. Community planning aims to enable collaboration and action at a local level. We have been codesigning a Shared Leadership Programme with three community planning partnerships across Northern Ireland. In April we reconfigured the work as the Covid-19 crisis unfolded.

Together we hosted a learning event online in May for those involved in the three community planning partnerships to hear about the role of front line community and statutory organisations in providing services to vulnerable communities. Some of the key messages about the ways in which shared leadership was evident during this crisis included:

  • Existing relationships have been significantly enhanced and developed to accelerate planning and delivery across sectors, to respond to needs in communities. Frequent and deep cross sectoral communication has been a bedrock of managing this crisis.
  • Innovative and sophisticated measures were designed and rapidly implemented in the community, for example a shared community response telephone line. Some community plans that had been stalled for some time were rapidly implemented.
  • Teams have been able to look to the longer term and changing community needs, despite the crisis. Community planning should move forward with dynamism in the future.

The Carnegie UK Trust has been working with all of the partners in the Embedding Wellbeing Programme to offer flexibility in responding to the challenges they are facing. CES is redesigning the Shared Leadership Programme so that it can be delivered in an online format over the coming months. Carnegie has also been undertaking an important listening exercise to track what has been going on in local communities during this crisis, indicating some encouraging signals about the space that has been provided to local communities to support a response to this crisis.

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