Action plan aims to help ‘Areas At Risk’

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The council has agreed an Areas At Risk action plan which could see more than £300,000 invested in community projects in parts of Carnmoney, Monkstown and Mossley.

Councillors this week approved the draft plan, which will now be submitted to the Department for Social Development for an economic appraisal.

The Areas At Risk programme is aimed at identifying and intervening in “areas of economic decline”, those at risk of “descending into instability” and interface areas.

Earlier this year the council appointed Blueprint Development Consultancy to analyse socio-economic data and carry out consultation with elected representatives, statutory agencies, local schools, churches, community groups and sports clubs to identify needs and possible projects within each area.

The draft plan highlights educational underachievement, drug and alcohol misuse, high levels of unemployment and other problems as major issues in each of the three areas.

“All stakeholders who were consulted spoke of drugs and alcohol misuse as one of the most detrimental social issues and there is a strong consensus that such misuse and its negative implications for young people attempting self-harm and suicide and becoming involved in crime and anti-social behaviour represent one of the areas of highest social need in the area,” the document states.

The plan lists a total of nine potential projects aimed at addressing the problems detailed in the report, including initiatives to encourage young people to stay in school and get better qualifications and schemes to divert children and young people away from anti-social behaviour and crime. Other potential projects include family support programmes, community cohesion and development schemes and initiatives targeting young people at risk from alcohol and drug abuse.

It’s understood that a number of other projects could be progressed should funding become available.

If the department gives the council’s plan the green light, the Areas At Risk programme could start in January 2014, with all projects scheduled to be completed by March 2015.