As 2020 approaches, it is clear that some EU regions are further along the track for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth than others. With a vicious cycle of under-investment, weak employment and a skills gap in relation to the labour market, especially for young people, many of our medium & small communities in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Romania have been especially hard hit by the economic crisis and recession. Business closures, decline in agriculture, the demise of public schools, libraries, post offices; and poor connectivity (both public transport and broadband), has left communities isolated, “at a low ebb” and “demotivated”.
Community organizations work on the frontline helping individuals affected by these issues, supported by local authorities and development agencies. But their actions have been curtailed by a reduction of funding over the last 10 years and there are underlying, structural challenges, including, “the lack of public transport, difficulty of engaging with NEETs, limited capacity and willingness of local community groups to engage in decision-making structures.
In our research we identified further barriers faced by leaders seeking community development:
– a narrow, single-issue approach means leaders are unaware of large scale, strategic approaches to community development;
– weak linkages to other organizations and a lack of experience in collaborative/ collective impact;
– scarce training opportunities outside capital cities and focus on technical topics for community leader such as compliance, administration and fundraising.
In 2015, LYIT, Momentum and UIIN embarked on an innovative project called Restart Entrepreneurs to show that business failure is not the end, but part of the learning path towards success for individual entrepreneurs. In Restart + we evolve this approach, working with community leaders to provide them with the knowledge, tools and collective learning spaces required to catalyze community investment and regeneration.
Download the first ezine of the project by clicking here – Restart_Issue1
More information about the project is available on the project website – www.restart.how