In 2020 East Belfast Community Development Agency will have been in existence for 50 years. The organisation has experienced many changes in those 50 years.
Started in 1970 by a small group of volunteers from the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) and the Boys Brigade and then entitled East Belfast Youth Council, its purpose was to create an alternative opportunity for young people in an attempt to prevent them getting caught up with the “troubles.”
With funding from Belfast City Council in 1973 two staff were employed and the organisation became East Belfast Community Council to reflect other Community Councils in North, South and West Belfast. Whilst the organisation continued with a focus on young people, they also began to have more of a focus on Community Relations/Cross Community work and Community Development. A name change again in 1989 to East Belfast Community Development Centre, based on moving into newly refurbished bigger premises and persuasion, from Making Belfast Work (MBW), who funded the move. The name was changed to East Belfast Community Development Agency (EBCDA) in 1994 to better reflect the support role of the organisation to the community sector in East Belfast.
EBCDA is operating in an environment than can be characterised by change, and uncertainty. While such change brings concerns and anxiety, over the past number of years this change and uncertainty has not been unusual within the sector. Though there are number of things which are different, these are:
- The financial context.
- Potential move by some funders, from grant funding to a tendering process.
- The pressure to deliver more with less.
- The challenge of being a delivery agent in partnership with Government Departments and Statutory Agencies, while remaining independent.
- The need to provide greater integration between outcomes-based accountability (OBA), delivery, impact framework and streamlining the collection of evidence which can support concise reports illustrating what is being delivered and showing the added value that EBCDA brings to the sector.
- Opportunities to work in partnership with many Government Departments and Statutory Agencies.