OFMDFM’s Contested Space Programme

No, not that sort of space programme…  Maybe more like this sort of ‘space‘.

ANYhoo…  Late on a Friday afternoon seems an odd time for the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers to be announcing a 3-year £4million scheme which targets just “six pilot areas”.  That works out at around £220,000 per ‘pilot area’, per year.  You can build a lot of fences for that sort of money…

Although, they don’t appear to have defined those ‘pilot areas’.

The timing is even odder when you consider that “information sessions” on the scheme start on Monday and run for just one week.

But then, the International Fund for Ireland is in the process of being de-funded.

OFMDFM have conjured up £2million from the back of the sofa and an additional £2million is being provided by that familar organisation, Atlantic Philanthropies.

Formerly sole funders of those Restorative Justice schemes, and the NI Human Rights Commission’s failed campaign for a NI Bill of Rights – until the NIO vetoed further contributions – Atlantic Philanthropies are still part-funding the Restorative Justice schemes.  That’s due to end this year.

They’re also, apparently, still in talks with the NI Assembly Commission and are part-funding a Belfast-based news and current affairs website.  There seems to be a delay on that last one…  [Adds 14/03/11 – The Detail is now live]

From the notes to the OFMDFM press release

2. The programme will have four focus areas of support;

  • Early years and parenting programmes concentrating on young children and parents living in interface/contested space communities. Initiatives supported should bring about improvements in the quantity and quality of shared pre-school provision and/or implement, on a shared basis, an evidence-based programme that improves and enhances parenting skills.
  • Shared space programmes targeted and delivered through schools operating in interface / contested space communities.Initiatives supported should focus on producing educational, societal and reconciliation outcomes and should lead to increased levels of shared education across interface communities.
  • Interface youth engagement programmes aimed at young adults, including those not currently engaging with existing youth providers. Initiatives supported should provide opportunities, on shared basis, for the personal development of young people as well opportunities for them to make a positive contribution to their communities and wider society.
  • Shared neighbourhood programmes targeted at families living in interface/contested space communities. Initiatives should provide opportunities, on a cross community basis, for the development of the necessary mechanism to promote an ethos of community pride for those residents living in contested space/interface communities.

3. Applications will only be accepted by consortia, which must include at least one community organisation from each side of the interface/contested space and an organisation with proven capability in delivering outcomes in the chosen focus area(s). [added emphasis]

I’m not convinced Atlantic Philanthropies have a “proven capability in delivering outcomes” in their own “chosen focus area(s)”. 

And as for the NI First and deputy First Ministers…

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