There are community groups all over Northern Ireland. Some are fantastic, others not so much, but there is one thing they all have in common; there is not enough of the community involved with them.
In my mind, every household should be aware of their community group and should be encouraged and welcomed into taking part. The best way to ensure this happens is for local authorities to provide leadership and where necessary, financial support. Too often, community groups are viewed by councils as a problem and represent an obstacle to be overcome instead of as a valuable asset in formulating strategies endorsed and supported by the public.
Strong communities provide and promote security & safety, they are a comfort when tragedy happens and they make celebrations bigger and better.
If I was on council I would look to create a specific set of targets to be met by community groups and council accompanied by regular review. As a councillor I would want to know that every household had been communicated with by their respective community group. I would want to know that a monthly public meeting had taken place with an agreed agenda and agreed outcomes. These groups should be organised by Ward and District and there should be regular meetings amongst the Chairs of each group. We can all agree that a councillor does not have the time to speak with every constituent and so were I a councillor I would want to know that I had at least engaged with the representative groups of my constituents.
This will only happen if Council agrees to provide direction where requested and required.