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Demonstrating the Value of Community Development Approaches

May 2nd, 2018 by Graham Attwell

This is a video of a conference I spoke at in Dublin in April organised by the Clondalkin Community Alcohol and Drugs Task Force. The conference followed the publication of a research report which said said power has been removed from affected areas and centralised at government level, where the system is “utterly disconnected” from the needs of people and communities. The research team was led by Aileen O’Gorman, a senior lecturer in Alcohol and Drug Studies at the University of West Scotland, and formerly of UCD.

The report said austerity “exacerbated” the problem by cutting funding to education, health, housing and welfare supports, local drug task- forces as well as community and voluntary groups.

A article about the report in the Irish Examiner newspaper said:

The study, commissioned by the Clondalkin Drug and Alcohol Task Force, said that drug-related ‘harms’ consistently cluster in communities marked by poverty and social inequality.

“The origins of poverty and inequality do not arise from the actions of people or communities, they derive from the politics, policies and structural violence of the state,” said the report.

It said drug policy in Ireland has become focused on addressing “individual drug using behaviour” and drug-related crime rather than the underlying issues of poverty and inequality and even less attention is paid to the outcomes of policy.

“The austerity policies introduced in the wake of the great recession have exacerbated the existing structural deficiencies in our society by cutting funding to education, health, housing, and welfare supports and to the Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and community, voluntary and statutory services that support vulnerable groups,” the study said.

It said that policies have resulted in a “drawing back of power from communities” and a recentralisation of power within government administration.

The conference focused on Reclaiming Community Development as an Effective Response to Drug Harms, Policy Harms, Poverty and Inequality and my presentation was entitled ‘Measuring Outcomes and Demonstrating
the Value of Community Development Approaches’.

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