(Mr. R. Black, Director of Neighbourhood Services attended in connection with this item.)
The Members of the Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 The purpose of this report is to update Members on our proposed summer programme for 2021, which will focus on services for children and young people, families and older people and support for partners and the CVSE sector.
2.1 The Members of the Committee are asked to recommend that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to:
· note the planned citywide summer programme and that delivery remains contingent on the further relaxation of COVID restrictions by the NI Executive.
3.0 Main Report
3.1 The ongoing NI Executive Covid 19 restrictions has resulted in a significant disruption to our services during Summer 2021. This disruption will affect the types of permissible activities, the maximum group numbers and the location of any programme offer to families, children and young people and older people. Our service offer will also be limited by our ability to comply with child ratios within available staff resources and limited volunteer support.
3.2 C and NS has established an internal summer programming team, to design and plan activities and events, as we emerge from lockdown. As restrictions are further eased we will review and amend our plans accordingly and in line with public health guidance. The programme will support the further recovery of some of our facilities, such as community centres and our parks and open space.
3.3 Our programme has been designed in line with the recovery recommendations published by Prof Siobhan O’Neill (NI Mental Health Champion) and via collaborative working with the Belfast Area Outcomes Group for CYP, the Education Authority and Youth Services, the Greater Belfast Seniors Forum and key community and voluntary sector partners. Prof O’Neill’s recommendations focus on:
- Reconnecting and reducing social isolation;
- Good quality programming;
- Promotion and support of existing community provision;
- Incorporation of physical activities, such as sports, dance, music & drama.
3.4 The BCC summer programme will focus on 4 key areas, namely:
- Children and Young People
- Older People
- Support For Partners & CVSE Sector
Children and Young People:
3.5 The current pandemic has made it difficult to plan a summer scheme programme based on the changing guidelines surrounding social distancing measures, capacity of participant numbers and what activities and sports are permitted at certain times.
3.6 We plan to deliver a two-week summer play programme which will move across the city from 17th July – late August 2021. This will operate with a capacity of 25 participants (related to child ratios) and we may also seek to allocate spaces via referrals from partners if necessary.
3.7 Given the fluid environment, we will maximise the use of our parks and outdoor space with fall back plans to use Community Centres when needed due to inclement weather and if permissible. The focus of this programme will be on:
- providing opportunities for children and young people to re-engage with their peers;
- health and wellbeing with an emphasis on the outdoors;
- providing opportunities to reflect on their personal journey during Covid-19 using supportive and creative methods;
- enable parents, young people and others within the community to celebrate events and achievements to promote self-esteem and hope; and
- re-engaging volunteers whose dedication, commitment and skills are vital in helping to deliver CYP services.
3.8 Our Sports Development Team are currently working with Sports Governing Bodies to develop a summer coaching and exercise programme and we are working in collaboration with GLL around complimentary programming across our Leisure estate.
3.9 Our OSAL team will be developing and implementing four community celebratory events (1 for each area of the city)
3.10 We are also working up activity offers to animate our parks and open space such as a series of Small Parks family entertainment programmes to include music and dance, summer fun days, etc. We are reinstating some of our previous animation programmes such as park life, wildlife displays, dance displays and the Belfast Parks Photographic Competition.
3.11 We will support strategic partners and 3rd party provider access to our parks and open space for localised community programming and a broad range of events (such as Belfast MELA, Connswater Greenway animation etc.)
3.12 We have been working in conjunction with the Greater Belfast Senior Forum, the 6 older people’s forums, Engage with Age, Volunteer Now, North Belfast Seniors Citizen Forum and Men’s Sheds to design an initial programme of activities where numbers can be easily controlled and social distancing enforced. This might include a range of outdoor activities such as walks, Tia Chi, boules, and other games.
3.13 We will support age friendly groups via access to our community centres and officer lead activities, for example, bingo, mindfulness classes, cookery demos, Park life, environmental awareness and recycling, etc.
Support for Partners and CVSE Sector:
3.14 We will continue to offer resource support to the Community Sector in the form of our Micro and Project Grants. It is expected both micro and medium grant programmes will follow similar priorities as in 20/21 (detailed below), but this may need to be updated based on requirements of external funders.
- Support children and young people to be happy and meet their full potential.
- Contribute to increased civic pride by building community confidence and improved and connected neighbourhoods.
- Contribute to improved wellbeing by preventing isolation.
- Promote positive emotional and physical wellbeing by addressing mental and/or physical health.
- Prevent, reduce or address antisocial behavior.
- Unexpected premises costs and PPE related to the recovery of services
- Promote connectivity and inclusion within communities, between communities and between communities and statutory partners
- Develop grass roots community capacity
Micro Grant: Indicative Budget (£150,000) – Maximum award £1,500.
Medium Grant: Indicative Budget (£300,000) – Maximum award £5,000
3.15 Both programmes are due to open in the first week of June 2021 at the latest. The streamlined Micro Grant process will allow for awards to be made in time to support summer programmes across Belfast City Council. The Medium Grant (due to increased level of award) requires slightly more stringent due diligence and awards are not expected until first week of September 2021.
3.16 Our area teams will continue to work locally with CVS to identify any support needs including access to BCC facilities and outdoor space, programme design, training or capacity support or access to funding.
3.17 The Programme Recovery group will continue to revise plans in line with the NI Pathway to Recovery process and the further easing of restrictions and confirmed dates to be announced by the NIE on 13th May and 10th June.
Financial and Resource Implications
3.18 The summer programme will be covered by existing budgets.
Equality or Good Relations Implications/Rural Needs Assessment
The Director of Neighbourhood Services provided an overview of the report and, in response to a Member, confirmed that officers would work with groups/organisations around the development of programmes and the use of Council assets.
The Chief Executive then raised concerns around the extent of bonfire material across the City and pointed out that, given the underlying tensions, significant issues could arise this year, which would require political leadership and decision-making.
After discussion, the Members of the Committee agreed to recommend that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to note the contents of the report.