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Changing Lives through Community Action Research

Bleach, Josephine (2019) Changing Lives through Community Action Research. In: JUC Public Administration Annual Conference 2019, 16-18 September 2019, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK.

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Changing lives through education is an essential part of National College of Ireland’s (NCI) mission. Established in 2007 by NCI, the Early Learning Initiative (ELI) is a complex community initiative, which partners with local families, services, communities, industries and the State to improve educational, career and life outcomes through the life span. Each year, 10,000+ children, parents, professionals and corporate volunteers in 67 services and 29 corporate organisations take part in one of ELI's programmes. ELI has a proven track record in using community action research to improve outcomes for children and influence policy and practice in the areas of educational disadvantage; community development; and early intervention and prevention. Acknowledging, respecting and utilising the expertise and experience within the local families and communities is at the heart of this cyclical process, which supports participants to deliver high quality services; share their learning; and change their relationships, theories, policies and practices. At national level, NCI, through ELI, is the lead agency for the Area Based Childhood Programme, which aims to address child poverty and will inform the design of future prevention and early intervention initiatives in Ireland. Locally, we are involved in the Children and Young People’s Services Committees, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board. Acting as the ‘bridge’ between different interest groups, ELI enables stakeholders at local and national level to learn from each other’s experiences and work together to find solutions to common problems.

Working with real people within real social systems, people do not act as one might wish and things do not always go according to plan. With evolving programmes and new stakeholders, each action research cycle is different from the previous one. Ensuring continuity and progression from one action research cycle to the next, in an evolving, rapidly changing environment is difficult. Sustaining the levels of engagement and resources needed for deep-rooted viable change is tough. Demands from funders, evaluators and policy makers have to be continuously balanced with the inherent tensions of a community development project. Managing these conflicting positions is an on-going challenge, particularly as local stakeholders applaud ELI’s CAR approach and see it as key to successful long-term change. This presentation highlights how Community Action Research helps us understand and address society’s most significant challenges of poverty, violence and marginalisation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform > Community Development
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > Early childhood education
Divisions: Early Learning Initiative Publications
Depositing User: Clara Chan
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2022 13:04
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2022 15:01

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