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Community Development Centre: Strategic Plan, 1999-2002

[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]

Text: Community Development Centre ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna

The following document has been contributed by permission of the Community Development Centre. The views expressed in this book do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.

book cover Community Development Centre
Strategic Plan, 1999-2002
by Community Development Centre, North Belfast

(Paperback) 26pp

Orders to:

Local Bookshops, or:
Community Development Centre, North Belfast
22 Cliftonville Road
BT14 6JX
Tel: 01232 284400
Fax: 01232 284401

These extracts are copyright Community Development Centre and are included on the CAIN site by permission of the author and publishers. You may not edit, adapt, or redistribute changed versions of this for other than your personal use without the express written permission of the author, and the publishers, Community Development Centre, North Belfast. Redistribution for commercial purposes is not permitted.


Who/What is CDC?

Development Plan

Analysis of Local Needs

CDC’s Ethos & Principles

CDC Working Methods

CDC Mission 1999 - 2002

CDC Strategic Priorities

CDC Strategic Objectives (1)

CDC Strategic Objectives (2)

CDC Strategic Objectives (3)

Implementing the Strategy

Participatory Management Structure

Organisational Chart

Resourcing the Plan

Appendix (1) Key Accomplishments -
                      Development Plan 1995-1999


Who/What is CDC?

  • CDC refers to the Community Development Centre, North Belfast
  • We are a community based, non governmental, independent organisation established in 1974
  • Our organisation covers the geographical area of 12 City Council electoral wards: Ardoyne; Ballysillan; Bellvue; Cliftonville; Castleview; Chichester Park; Cavehill; Duncairn; Fortwilliam; Waterworks; Ligoniel; New Lodge and part of Court ward
  • The organisation is a non party political and non profit making citizens association
  • Membership is comprised of community led organisations who are in agreement with the ethos and principles of the Centre
  • CDC is the main support agency for the local community sector and is committed to an anti sectarian philosophy which is reflected in all our areas of work and in our membership and decision making structures
  • We are a Company Limited by Guarantee with Charitable Status

Company No: NI 19790
Charity No: XN 48665

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The Development Plan

Who’s It For?

First and foremost this plan is for local community activists and organisations. It is to let you know what the focus of CDC’s work will be over the next few years. Every effort has been made to avoid jargon and to make sure that readers can get a feel for what it is we are trying to do.

Secondly there may be other organisations who once they read the plan may feel their work is complementary to ours and this might lead to new partnerships or alliances being formed.

Thirdly the plan will inform current and potential funders of CDC’s future direction and areas of work.

What’s It For?

Every organisation needs to know what its purpose is, how it intends to meet its objectives and what it requires in terms of staffing and resources to deliver its strategy. CDC operates on a 3 year planning cycle. A strategic plan is produced for a three year period, the plan sets out in broad terms our key priorities. An operational plan is then produced on a yearly basis which sets out specific actions. This is monitored every 3 months.

What’s It Based On?

We use a number of sounding boards before putting together our Development Plan.
These include

  • Feedback from groups who use the Centre
  • Take up of our services by local groups
  • Assessing the needs of local groups
  • Ideas/suggestions coming from our various networks and advisory groups
  • Evaluations of the Centre and or our projects
  • Staff planning exercises
  • Joint planning initiatives with other networks/organisations
  • Monitoring our contacts and relationships in the voluntary and statutory sectors
  • Liaison with other community development organisations in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and further afield
  • Analysis of local area needs

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The Area
& analysis of local needs

Major Issues to be Addressed

  • The area has become increasingly segregated with some 24 interfaces
  • The area contains the highest number of NIHE housing estates which are affected by interface violence - Upper & Lower Whitewell, Whitecity, Gainsborough/Mountcollyer, Duncairn Gardens, Skegoniel Avenue, Cliftonville/ Antrim Road, Torrens, Lower Oldpark, Ardoyne, Alliance, Ligoniel
  • The summer months are particularly tense in North Belfast and there continues to be sporadic mainly youth led violence in interface areas
  • Lack of general provision for young people and concerns at level of alcohol abuse and increasing number of young people at risk from suicide
  • The area has higher levels of long term illness, infant mortality and cancer related illnesses than the Eastern Health & Social Services Board average
  • High welfare dependency
  • Isolation and poor health amongst elderly population
  • High incidence of road traffic accidents in some areas and lack of safe play areas for children
  • Lack of job skills and low take up of training opportunities
  • Low levels of academic achievement
  • Continued obstacles for women’s full participation in training & employment opportunities
  • Economic investment in the area and support for such initiatives

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CDC’s Ethos & Principles


As the main support agency for the community sector in North Belfast CDC will continue to promote a culture of interdependence and inclusiveness. CDC will operate to a set of principles and approaches which will ensure that the journey towards reconciliation is embedded in the community development process.


The following principles will guide our activities:

  • A commitment to work for social change which will improve the quality of life for disadvantaged individuals and communities
  • In our efforts to create a culture of interdependence and co existence we will actively assist those organisations wishing to build new relationships both within and between communities
  • We will continue to promote human and minority rights and direct our efforts to building a community based on tolerance, non violence and respect
  • Our own decision making processes and structures will continue to involve the participation of our members and will be open, accountable and transparent
  • We rely on support from government departments, charitable and trust foundations. In recognition of their support CDC will endeavour at all times to be effective, efficient, equitable and to ensure economy of scale

Commitment to community development

We are committed to the community development process. Our working definition of community development is as follows:

‘Community Development aims to encourage active citizenship and to empower those who have been deprived of power and of control of their common affairs.

Community Development emphasises the importance of developing skills, knowledge and experience, which will enable people to act together and take initiatives to influence social, economic and political issues and to participate fully in the democratic process.

Community Development aims to promote and develop structures, which allow for genuine participation and involvement in civil and political society.

Community Development work must also take a lead on confronting sectarianism and other individual and institutional attitudes, which discriminate on the basis of gender age, ethnicity, race, disability or sexual orientation.

Community Development is about promoting positive social change. The way in which such change occurs is critical and so both task and process are important’.

CDC 1999

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CDC's Working Methods

In all of its areas of work CDC will seek to:

  • Influence practice and social policy development
  • Provide responsible leadership were appropriate
  • Maximise local participation
  • Form strategic alliances and allegiances with relevant bodies
  • Share information and experience
  • Learn from other organisations
  • Document and record our work
  • Set realistic targets
  • Monitor and evaluate our performance
  • Balance local responsibility with strategic goals

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Our Mission

CDC’s Strategic Priorities

Following extensive consultations the follwing priority areas have been identified for the period 1999-2002. As with all strategic plans there is a need to remain flexible and to demonstrate a capacity to be responsive to local changes. This will be ensured through the production of an annual operational plan which will set out what we intend to do each year. The operational plan will be monitored every three months to allow for any changes to be made. The following Priorities state in broad terms what CDC’s strategic objectives are:

Strategic objective (1)

  • Promoting Active Citizenship through Development Resource and Support Provision to community based organisation

Strategic objective (2)

  • Enhance community cohesion through creating opportunities for local communities and groups to address the divisions that exist within and between localities in North Belfast

Strategic objective (3)

  • Combat social exclusion through placing an emphasis on anti poverty work, working for social and economic progress and protecting and enforcing the rights of those experiencing poverty and disadvantage.

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Strategic Objective (1)
Promoting Active Citizenship


To promote active citizenship through community development resource and support provision


  • To create inclusive and democratic community structures which embrace all sections of the community through promoting an equality agenda for those who have been traditionally marginalised or excluded from mainstream community development activity.
  • Facilitate community organisation in areas of weak community infrastructure through targeted generic community development support.
  • Strengthen the capacity of local community organisations through provision of area based accessible and affordable resource and support and qualitative and accredited training opportunities.


  • Seek funds to enable CDC to continue to provide generic community development support, particularly in areas experiencing high levels of social need and in areas where the local infrastructure remains weak or non existent.
  • Continue to provide area based support and development services which enable local groups to develop their own capacities.
  • Provide by itself or in conjunction with others high quality information and training services in support of local groups.
  • Facilitate area based networks/forums which foster exchanges of information, joint planning and problem solving.
  • Target those groups who have been traditionally underrepresented in mainstream community development activity and support their engagement eg ex-prisoners groups, victims groups, carers, ethnic minority groups.

Measures (some examples)

  • Capacity to secure funds to support such work
  • Local community groups knowledge and involvement in networks and area based forums
  • Participation of local people in community based organisations
  • Uptake of training opportunities
  • Involvement of local community groups in area based initiatives
  • Establishment of new groups in areas of weak infrastructure
  • Capacity of local groups to influence local decision making

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Strategic Objective (2)
Encouraging Community Cohesion


To enhance community cohesion through creating opportunities for local communities and groups to address the divisions that exist within and between localities in North Belfast.


  • Facilitate work within local communities to ensure co-ordination, joint problem solving, planning and opportunities for dialogue and discussion.
  • Create opportunities for local communities whether they be divided on religious or political grounds to work together to rebuild relationships, tackle issues of division and or conflict and to enhance work for the overall good of the North Belfast community.
  • Work closely with local communities and other appropriate agencies or organisations in an effort to promote political stability and to engage actively in conflict reduction and resolution.


  • Continue to operate an anti sectarian policy and to work towards an active coexistence strategy for local communities in North Belfast.
  • Facilitate single identity and inter community work with locally based groups.
  • Support networks whose aim is to develop opportunities for understanding, dialogue and resolution of community issues.
  • Continue to explore and develop approaches designed to alleviate difficulties in times of high tension.
  • Provide opportunities for training and skills development.
  • Continue to influence statutory responses to issues related to community divisions.
  • Work closely with elected representatives and other appropriate statutory and voluntary organisations to resolve local difficulties.
  • Raise awareness of local issues through production of action based, quality research programmes, pilot schemes to tackle specific issues and information exchange.
  • Form relationships in other areas/countries which have experienced conflict and to share that experience with local groups.
  • Provide opportunities for local people to make their views and opinions known on a range of issues relating to peace-building and conflict reduction and resolution.

Measures (some examples)

  • CDC’s capacity to influence core funders and key influencers of the importance of this area of work in the North Belfast context and in the overall political context.
  • Ability to engage key stakeholders in effective working relationships eg government/statutory agencies/voluntary sector/various commissions /local community
  • Level and quality of single identity and inter community work supported by the Centre.
  • Participation of local activists in training opportunities /networks / consultations.
  • Outcome of pilot projects, new models of working.
  • Level of engagement with elected representatives.
  • Greater unity of purpose and recognition of interdependence among elected representatives, communities, agencies.
  • Publication of high quality research, information and training materials.
  • Networking with other peace-building groups/coalitions.

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Strategic Objective (3)
Tackling Social Exclusion


To combat social exclusion through placing an emphasis on anti poverty work, working for social and economic progress and protecting and enforcing the rights of those experiencing poverty and disadvantage.


  • Provide a centralised and outreach advice service which will provide high quality advice, information, representation and referral, to those areas experiencing high levels of social need.
  • To provide a focal point for anti poverty and advice work in North Belfast through facilitation of the North Belfast Advice Services Consortium and development of linkages and alliance with other anti poverty initiatives.
  • To encourage support and facilitate (where appropriate) the involvement of local communities in integrated development initiatives designed to tackle issues of social economic and physical disadvantage.
  • To highlight the structural and multi dimensional nature of poverty and to seek to address these issues through social policy influence at local, regional and national level.


  • Development and provision of advice services accessible to those in greatest need.
  • Increased numbers of people receiving all the welfare benefits they are entitled to.
  • Capacity to sustain and develop the work of the North Belfast Advice Services Consortium.
  • Partnerships developed with locally based employment initiatives.
  • Involvement in North Belfast Economic Development Board (NBPB).
  • Support for community led businesses.
  • Engagement with training initiatives designed to increase skills base and other opportunities for employment.
  • Engagement in local area based development schemes aimed at improving social/economic and physical infrastructure.

Measures - some examples

  • Uptake of advice services
  • Impact of work of Advice Services Consortium: on member groups and local communities.
  • Involvement in design, development and implementation of local schemes designed to enhance social, economic and physical regeneration.
  • Involvement in partnerships/projects designed to increase awareness of training and employment opportunities.
  • Type/level/range of actions taken to promote the area, highlight problems, develop integrated development strategies.

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the Strategy

It’s fine to have a vision and a plan but most importantly can we deliver it?

We believe that with the support and involvement of local activists CDC can successfully deliver on all aspects of the plan.

As an organisation CDC has taken a number of practical steps to ensure that the necessary agreements, structures and systems are in place:

Action Taken

  • Reaffirmation of CDC’s ethos and principles. Incorporated in membership policy.
  • Recognition and acceptance of CDC’s role as an area based tier (1) Resource Centre. Agreed at our AGM and reflected in consultations on Strategic Development Plan.
  • Establishment of Advisory Groups: To maximise member participation and involvement in direction and delivery of CDC services.
  • Introduction of new Board structure: To reflect 2 major traditions, provide equality of opportunity - gender, disability and representation from area based and special interest networks.
  • Review of CDC’s core activities.
  • Production of 3 year funding strategy.
  • Review of staffing levels and jobs.
  • Review of internal policies and procedures
  • Review of external relationships and key stakeholders.
  • Effective communication strategy: To ensure that stakeholders are advised and updated on all our areas of work is being progressed and will be monitored regularly.
  • Community Audit: Will be carried out in 2000 and 2002 to assess impact and outcomes of strategy.

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Participatory Management Structure

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Organisation Chart

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the Plan

The figures below represent CDC’s anticipated core annual expenditure profile and will be subject to inflation and project development costs.

Central Directorate,(Salaries, Administration and Development Costs)


Community Development Resource and Support (Salaries, Administration and Development Costs)


Community Relations and Cohesion (Salaries, Administration and Development Costs)


Anti Poverty and Advice Work (Salaries Administration and Development Costs)


Community Building: maintaining CDC as a Neutral Venue


Project Costs


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Key Accomplishments 1995 - 1999 (Period covered by previous Development Plan)

Strategic Statements

Development Support & Expertise

CDC will seek to develop the local community infrastructure through the establishment of an area based community development programme targeted at those areas of greatest need and in particular to assist those areas where the community infrastructure is weak or non existent.

Outcomes 1995 - 1999

Secured resources to successfully establish and implement The Community Links Team The Links Team have supported:

  • a voluntary management community forum.
  • a ‘new’ Workers’ Forum
  • provided development support to over 50 groups in areas of weak infrastructure.
  • provided fundraising advice to some 30 groups.
  • assisted groups to network and share information and resources.


2. Area Based Resource & Support Services

CDC will provide a range of area based resource and support services in support of the community development process and community development activity.

  • Provided Meetings/Conferences and seminar facilities in support of 150 groups
  • Provided 372 groups with DTP and reprographic services.
  • Involved 120 participants in certified high quality leadership training (1 year)
  • Facilitated and supported quality networks
  • Examples Include:
  • North Belfast Information Network Group 94-96
    Young Women's Network
    North Belfast Interface Networks
    North Belfast Play Forum
    Ardoyne Providers Forum
    Ardoyne focus Group
    North Belfast Women's Forum
    North Belfast Senior Citizen's Forum
    Critical Analysis Forum
    Mobil Phone Network
    North Belfast Advice Consortium


3. Specialist Services, Projects & Initiatives.

CDC will provide a range of specialist services, projects and initiatives aimed at addressing issues of poverty, disadvantage and marginalisation in North Belfast.

  • Provided a centralised Advice Service. Catered for 8093 cases.
  • Provided outreach advice services in premises of Tyndale Residents’ Association, Benview Community Centre, Concorde Community Centre, Lower North Belfast Community Council.
  • Assisted Lower North Belfast Community Council and Ballysillan Community Forum to secure funds to operate own advice centres.
  • Established a North Belfast Advice Consortium in an effort to strategically address issues of advice provision and anti-poverty work. Eight Advice Centres currently involved.
  • Secured funds to extend outreach programme, currently covering B one/ Ballybone, Cavehill, Antrim Road
  • Provided focussed advice sessions for lunch clubs and groups of senior citizens
  • Secured a £250,000 grant from IFI to establish an Economic Development Agency. However in recognition of the Role envisaged by the NBPB decided to decline the grant in favour of the Partnership Board taking this matter further.
  • Maintained a Women’s Development Programme and reported on the model used ‘Under Napoleon’s Nose’ 1997
  • Established a North Belfast Women’s Forum.
  • Provided a dedicated Training Programme; "Women and Community Leadership".
  • Facilitated local networks to work on issues of play, traffic calming, housing development.
  • Established the Alexander Park Unattached Youth Project. A ‘peer-led’ initiative.
  • Assisted a number of ‘peer-led’ initiatives to carry out research and to give young people a voice.
  • Facilitated the establishment of a North Belfast Senior Citizen Forum in association with older people and successfully secured funds to enable The Forum to employ a Development Worker and an Administrator.


4. Community Relationships

CDC will develop programmes, initiatives and projects aimed at improving community relationships both within and between communities in an effort to create new and sustainable relationships which will allow for more effective community development.

  • Established ‘interface’ network in support of the 2 major communities.
  • Secured funds to establish a ‘Community Bridges Programme’, involving a dedicated staff team to work on the Strategic objective.
  • Secured funds to undertake a 3 year action based research programme into the effects of Sectarianism and racism.
  • Dealt with a range of contentious issues including parades, policing and the aftermath of civil unrest and public disorder.
  • Carried our a Community Inquiry into the Civil Disturbances of 1996. The Findings:Reported in ‘On the Edge (1997)’
  • Secured funds for local groups from BELB to engage young people in meaningful activity during summer period.
  • Established a new innovatory community communication network across interface communities during the summer periods. (Reported in ‘Drawing Back from the Edge’, May 1999)
  • Established new consultation procedures and formal arrangements for communication with the 3 policing subdivisions for the area and at Divisional level.
  • Produced and distributed guidelines for key contacts in statutory agencies for interface communities 1997 - 1999.
  • Participated in an Inter-Agency group to produce effective operational guidelines dealing with issues affecting displaced families.
  • Worked directly with local interface areas involved in conflict reduction and resolution work.
  • Facilitated single identity and inter community group sessions.
  • Worked with other organisations to produce training and other resource materials e.g. WEA, Belfast Interface Project.
  • Addressed a range of conferences/ workshops organised by CRC, NIVT, CAJ on issues such as Parades, Policing and Peace Building.


5. Referral & Sign-posting Services

CDC will seek to develop its ‘external network’ to enable the Centre to provide an effective referral and sign-posting service for local groups and individuals.

  • Developed an extensive external network in support of the strategic objectives including;
  • Elected representatives
  • Media
  • Specialist Agencies
  • Government Departments
  • Training & Educational organisations
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Partnerships
  • International Bodies
  • Local Community Groups 


6.Responsible Leadership

CDC will give a lead on issues which affect local people and which fall within the Centre’s areas of work.

Example (1)

  • Organised two major community conferences and a series of workshops in support of the establishment of a single, area based inter-agency partnership for North Belfast 1995-96.
  • Developed and agreed with over 60 community organisations a model for effective community representation on a Partnership Board based on consensus, inclusion and equity between the two major traditions.
  • CDC continues to support the work to be carried out by a North Belfast Partnership Board through involvement in 3 of its’ subcommittees: Health & Wellbeing, Housing & Environment & Economic Development.

Example (2)

    (2) Providing Learning Opportunities

  • Facilitation of Student Placements from various institutions including Maynooth College, University of Ulster, Princes Trust.
  • Provided Study visits for elected representatives and community organisations from other countries including Croatia, Macedonia, Guyana, USA.
    Providing opportunities for media, leadership and skill based training.

Example (3)

    Responding to the aftermath of civil disturbance.
    Elsewhere in this section (see strategic statement 4), information is provided regarded the Community Inquiry, the Mobile Phone Network. In addition CDC showed responsive leadership during the very difficult circumstances of 1996 by;
  • Establishing a Families in Crisis group to coordinate and monitor events from the Community Sector.
  • Established a weekly meeting with key statutory agencies to coordinate responses to issues presented by displaced families.
  • Provides a 24 hour service during periods of high tension e.g. usually summer months.
  • Providing opportunities for media leadership and skill based training.
  • Levered funds via the Secretary of State Office in support of displaced families

Example (4)

    Collaborative Working
    Worked strategically and closely with other organisations to maximise resources available to North Belfast including; Law Centre, AIAC, WEA, Ulster People’s College.

Example (5)

  • Contribution to the work of others
  • Involvement in a range of research projects undertaken by voluntary organisations and universities.
    Participation in the management or development of other organisations examples, include; WEA, Womens’ Resource & Development Agency, NIPB, Law Centre, NIVT.

Example (6)

    Sharing Information.
  • Produced the following reports for public distribution;
  1. ‘On the Edge’, A Report on a Community Inquiry into civil disturbances of 1996.
  2. ‘A Better place to play’ Torr Heath Playgroup Project CDC - 1995
  3. ‘Consulting Tennants’ ‘An examination of practical issues CDC, Age Concern North Belfast, Law Centre, Council for the Homeless - 1995’
  4. ‘Under Napoleon’s Nose’ ‘Women Developing communities in North Belfast’ A report of the Women’s Development Project CDC’ - 1996
  5. ‘Small Change, Big Difference’ Young People’s Research Project, Glandore/ Little America - 1997’
  6. ‘Waterworks Scoping Study’ in association with the North Belfast Play Forum).- 1999
  7. Drawing Back from The Edge: Community based responses to violence in North Belfast - 1999
  8. Independent Intervention: monitoring the Police, Parades and Public Order - CDC and Democratic Dialogue - 1999
  9. ‘Addressing Local Needs, A Report of the North’, Belfast Advice Consortium’ - 1999 ‘From then, ‘til now..’ CDC Commemorative Brochure

7. Social Policy Influence

CDC will draw out the policy implications of all of its areas of work through research, analysis and monitoring of trends in local communities in its efforts to address issues of poverty, disadvantage and exclusion.

  • CDC has responded to the strategic objective through a range of initiatives
  • briefings for political representatives
  • responding to consultations documents e.g. North Belfast Partnership Board, Draft Strategy, DHSS: Consultation on "Fit for the Future": DENI Youth Service Review.
  • Direct deliberations with statutory and other departments including NIO, BELB, Social Security Agency.
  • Undertaking and supporting others to carry out research.


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CDC Acknowledges the grant aid provided by the following bodies and thanks each of them for enabling the organisation to deliver it’s Development Plan for 1995 - 1999:-

BBC Children in Need

Belfast City Council

Belfast Education & Library Board

Belfast European Partnership Board

Community Relations Council

Childhood Fund

Central Community Relations Unit

Equal Opportunities Commission

IFI Community Bridges Programme

Making Belfast Work

National Lotteries Charity Board

North & West Health & Social Services Trust

Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust


Voluntary Activity Unit

also special thanks to:

CDC’s Solicitors, Flynn & McGettrick

CDC’s Auditors, Cleaver Black

CDC’s Bank, Northern Bank, Antrim Road

CDC’s Member Organisations

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