Community Planning

Putting People First

Putting People First

“Putting People First” is the first community plan for the Mid and East Antrim area.

It was published on 31 March 2017, and officially launched on 6 June 2017.

Putting People First is the overarching document for Community Planning in MEA covering the 15 year period of 2017 – 2032.  

During the Community Engagement process of ‘Putting People First’ the people of MEA had their say and agreed with the themes and outcomes of our plan.

Working together, we want to make this an even better place for all of our citizens. Putting People First will enable all of us to achieve this. This plan will help all of the community planning partners to realise our vision of a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive Mid and East Antrim.  

This is, therefore, an ambitious plan and over the 15-year life of the plan, the Community Planning Partnership has identified a range of outcomes we want to deliver for Mid and East Antrim.

You can read the Putting People First - The Mid and East Antrim Community Plan online through the Issuu website.

The Community Plan will run in tandem with Councils Corporate Plan and the Local Development Plan.


Putting People First 2022 Update

The Putting People First 2022 Update information below is also available as a downloadable pdf from the Issuu website.

Contents and Summary

Putting People First remains a document which is reflective of the needs and priorities of the residents of Mid and East Antrim. The current review, coupled with the emergence from the pandemic, provided the Strategic Alliance with an opportunity to streamline the plan, to focus on those who are most in need and most vulnerable, and to deliver collaborative actions that benefit residents. The changes contained in this document are not onerous, however we are of the view that they will enable the Partnership to make an even greater, and more visible and tangible, difference in the Borough.

Review of Putting People First

Putting People First is an ambitious document which accurately reflects the context of Community Planning in 2014- 2017 when plans were being developed. In 2021/2022 a review of the Community Planning priorities and outcomes for the Mid and East Antrim area was undertaken.

The review of Putting People First in 2021/2022 is timely. Not only have the partnership structures developed and solidified, but the global pandemic has changed the landscape in which community planning is delivered.

In focus groups conducted as part of review process, it was commented that the response to the Covid-19 crisis was community planning as it should be. It was a range of agencies working together to address a common and pressing concern. It involved the reallocation of human resources, the redirection of financial resources and the concentration of effort on a single issue. In addition to taking on board the feedback from the audit, this review is also cognisant of the learning from what happened during the pandemic and the opportunities that exist to build on its success.

Having reviewed Putting People First, the Statement of Progress and the implementation plan, it is clear that the plan offers a comprehensive approach to addressing some of the starkest needs and potentially fruitful opportunities facing the Borough. As a result of the review, some of the themes and outcomes have been consolidated and actions re-prioritised.

This review was approached from a people-centred perspective, intending to highlight where community planning can really make a difference to people living in the Borough. Measuring and evidencing the answers to ‘what did we do?’ and ‘how well did we do it?’ is significantly more straightforward than answering ‘is anybody better off?’ however we know that people are, and that more people could be.

Cross Cutting Priorities

  • The review identified a number of recurring themes which are not so much issues to address as they are ways of working. The plan includes a number of cross cutting themes which represent key considerations which will underpin all activity undertaken through community planning.

Tackling Poverty

  • The Covid 19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the livelihoods of individuals and families across Northern Ireland and the Borough. When this is coupled with rising costs of living, rapidly escalating fuel costs and inflation, the numbers of households finding themselves financially insecure is increasing also. Mid and East Antrim has one neighbourhood renewal area and two areas at risk prior to the pandemic but anecdotal evidence to date indicates that poverty is impacting families across the whole of the Borough. Poverty and deprivation can be a significant barrier to achieving the ambitions of Putting People First, but conversely, Putting People First has the opportunity to tackle some of the root causes of poverty through its actions.

Prioritising the most vulnerable

  • The issue of inclusion was raised frequently throughout the review, and it was in regard to a spectrum of people, but in particular people with disabilities and people with learning difficulties whom it was felt had been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and the resulting exclusion. In addition, ‘people at risk’ were identified including people from BAME backgrounds, young people and older people. Planned community activity should be viewed through the lens of how it will benefit those who are the most vulnerable in the Borough. This will enable a focus on those who can be the most ‘better off’ as a result.

Addressing the inequalities in our Borough

  • The plan currently includes “our borough has health equality for all” as an outcome under Good Health and Wellbeing. Given that there are so many social determinants of health and wellbeing such as deprivation, living environment, access to employment and so on, given that addressing inequality is a cross cutting theme. This commitment will also respond to feedback which asked for fairness in how resources and support are allocated between rural and urban areas and between different towns in the Borough.

Valuing the views and contribution of our residents

The intent of the partners in the Strategic Alliance was clear when it entitled the community plan “Putting People First”. The plan acknowledged that the greatest asset in the Borough of Mid and East Antrim is its people. It also acknowledged that it is a plan to benefit the people of the Borough. Currently there is a disconnect between those involved in the community planning structures and other groups and residents. There is a sense in the feedback received through the consultation process that the community feel they aren’t engaged in the decisions that affect them. The pandemic response has clearly demonstrated the importance of the community and voluntary sector in the area. Without local groups and local intelligence, those who were most in need would not have been identified or supported. Post pandemic there are connections and relationships which the community planning partnership should nurture going forward. We recommend that time is taken by all agencies to engage with residents, to give time and space to co-design processes which will ultimately result in a better quality of service delivery.

Valuing our environment

Paradoxically Our Environment as a theme was the least prioritised, however measures to address climate change, environmental awareness and the importance of respect for the local and natural environment were points which were made throughout the consultation responses. We believe that valuing our environment as a cross cutting theme will enable the community planning partners to make climate change commitments at an organisational level and to support the improvement of local environments at a community level. The environment is a key success factor in all four of the revised themes.

Wider Strategic Context

Since Putting People First was published in 2017, the strategic and policy context have seen some significant changes, some key aspects of which are noted below:

  • The covid pandemic and subsequent recovery plans
  • Welfare reform
  • New Mental Health Strategy 2021 to 2031
  • Belfast Region City Deal
  • Draft Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland
  • Development of an anti-poverty strategy
  • Draft programme for government
  • Towards a Programme of Support for Community Planning (the Gallagher Report)
  • Embedding a Wellbeing Framework in Northern Ireland, Carnegie Trust UK

It is a testament to the foundations of Putting People First that it remains in alignment with the wider policy context and priorities. These new and emerging strategies may add impetus to areas of work the Strategic Alliance was already considering.

Our vision: Mid and East Antrim will be a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community, where people work together to improve the quality of life for all.

The Community Planning Partnership

We have a Community Panel which has a key and unique role in providing community representatives the opportunity to input into all parts of the community planning partnership structure. This group represents the community voice for Mid and East Antrim Borough.

The Updated Plan

As a result of a period of consultation and review of the community plan - there are now four themes for the work of the Community Planning Partnership - these are our new priorities. They are the key areas we will focus on now and during the remainder of the plan. 

Key Areas of Focus:-

  • Good Health & Wellbeing
  • Community Safety & Cohesion
  • Progress in Education & Employment
  • Tourism & The Economy 

Mid and East Antrim will be a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community, where people work together to improve quality of life for all.

These four community planning themes are not isolated or stand alone. There are many connections, overlaps and interrelationships between them. Indeed, it is only by making these connections and through the total combined contribution of all of the themes that our ambitious goals for Mid and East Antrim will be realised.

Tourism and the Economy

Our Borough is a leading and competitive place to start and grow business. Our Borough is a destination of choice.

The Community Planning process has identified four strategic priorities for the theme of tourism and the economy.

  • We support local businesses and those which can demonstrate social value.
  • Our Borough has first class facilities and attractions.
  • We support entrepreneurs to start up and existing business to grow.
  • Our towns and village are attractive and vibrant.

Good Health and Wellbeing

Our citizens enjoy good mental and physical health and wellbeing.

The community planning process has identified three strategic priorities for the theme of good health and Wellbeing.

  • Our citizens are physically active more often.
  • Our citizens enjoy easy access to our Borough’s natural environment and heritage.
  • Our citizens have access to information, activities and advice to support their physical and mental wellbeing.

Progress in Education and Employment

We have a skilled workforce able to adapt to the changing economy. Our Borough provides opportunities for all and supports people to achieve their full potential.

The community planning process has identified five strategic priorities for the theme of ‘progress in education and employment’.

  • We have skills development programmes targeting areas of high growth or need.
  • We reduce or remove the barriers to our people achieving their potential.
  • We provide a range of education pathways to employment.
  • We encourage entrepreneurship and vocational training.
  • We value lifelong learning.

Community Safety and Cohesion

Our Borough has vibrant, inclusive and cohesive communities.  Our people feel safe in their community.  Our older people live healthy, active lives in their community. The community planning process has identified seven strategic priorites for the theme of ‘community safety and cohesion’.

  • We have activities and events which welcome everyone.
  • We proactively support and include the most vulnerable and the most excluded.
  • We proactively support the most vulnerable or at risk.
  • We value and respect the environment we live in.
  • We have programmes in place to address their greatest concerns.
  • We proactively remove barriers to their participation in community life.
  • In our Borough there are networks and services in place to support them to age actively and healthily.

The Partnership Structure

The Community Planning Partnership structure for Mid and East Antrim was designed with the involvement and engagement of the community planning partners, including the community and voluntary sector and a wide range other public sector organisations.

The membership of the Community Planning Partnership includes the designated statutory partners set out in the legislation, community representatives and a range of other groups and organisations. This has established a broader partnership which will be integral to the ongoing development and delivery of the community plan.

Who sits on the Partnerships?

Representatives of the community have been involved throughout the community planning process in Mid and East Antrim. The community is represented by the Elected Members, as well as by nominated representatives of community organisations from across the borough (The Community Panel). As well as Council and community there are 12 partners who must by law be involved in community planning, they are:

  • Council for Catholic Maintained Schools
  • Education Authority
  • Health and Social Care Board
  • Invest NI
  • Libraries NI
  • NI Fire and Rescue Service
  • NI Housing Executive
  • Northern Health and Social Care Trust
  • Police Service for NI
  • Public Health Agency
  • Sport NI
  • Tourism NI

In Mid and East Antrim, these partners decided that a number of other organisations could also make a valuable contribution to the community planning process and were added to the partnership - they currently are:

  • Galgorm Resort and Spa (on behalf of the tourism sector in the borough)
  • Michelin (on behalf of the business sector in the borough)
  • NI Water
  • Northern Regional College
  • Patient and Client Council
  • Sustainable NI (on behalf of the environment sector in the borough)
  • Translink
  • Transport NI
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Education
  • Department for Communities
  • Consumer Council

Together, all these groups and organisations form our Mid and East Antrim ‘Strategic Alliance’. Where available, individuals and organisations who represent the interests of the Section 75 groups, as contained within the Northern Ireland Act, will be included as members across the Community Planning Partnership structure.

Please note this plan has been screened in relation to the “Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulation (NI) 2004”. It has been determined that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is not required as the plan is unlikely to have significant strategies and plans that may go on to support the delivery of the community plan will be subject to any required environmental assessment.


Implementation Plan

Statement of Progress - November 2021

Statement of Progress

Statement of Progress Highlights