Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2024+


In mid-February the INOU made a submission to the development of the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2024+ and this article provides a synopsis of the main points.

The INOU regards the focus of the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) to be particularly important, as the consultation documents notes SICAP “provides funding to tackle poverty and social exclusion through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.”

The development of the ‘My Journey: Distance Travelled Tool’ was critical. It is essential to capture the progress made by people who have engaged in programmes and supports, but find getting a job extremely challenging. Such a scenario may arise for personal reasons, few chances to date to participate, or the unwillingness of others to to offer them any employment opportunity.  


Horizontal themes

The current SICAP programme is underpinned by three horizontal themes including: promoting an equality framework; applying community development approaches; developing collaborative approaches with stakeholders to improve how mainstream policies and programmes are delivered.

The world of work is changing, and for many people distant from the labour market a developmental approach will be required to support them to be able to participate in a meaningful and inclusive manner. Collaboration needs to happen at all levels: locally, regionally and nationally within and across all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that inclusive, person centred services support real change in people’s lives. 


Target Groups

SICAP 2018–2023 had twelve target groups initially and five more added when the programme was reviewed in 2021. This list appears to be comprehensive and includes the unemployed and the long-term unemployed. However, ex-prisoners were not named even though they would face particular challenges and barriers when seeking employment. 



There are six beneficiary types under SICAP 2018-2023. Again the list appears to be comprehensive, though the sixth one about collaboration could do with an element that reflects the nationwide nature of the programme and how the collective learning from SICAP could inform wider programmes and policies designed to address poverty and socio-economic exclusion.


Thematic Areas and Outcomes

Under the two core programme goals – supporting communities and supporting individuals – the current SICAP programme has 12 thematic areas and 29 associated outcomes. The capture of data that highlights the work of the programme is particularly important to inform people who do not work in this area of the importance of community based approaches to addressing poverty and socio-economic exclusion. On the other hand, it is critical that the collection of this data does not leave the staff working on the ground feeling their work is more administrative than developmental. To that end it would be important that people working in and benefiting from SICAP see the learning arising feeding into wider policy development and how other programmes are implemented.


Key Performance Indicators

The consultation document notes that the current SICAP programme has two Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), one for each programme goal, with an additional target for the proportion of individuals supported that live in a disadvantaged area. KPIs tend to be numerical and as such only provide information up to a point. However, the nature of the engagement, the level of support a person experiencing poverty and socio-economic exclusion may require to be able to engage with whatever opportunity SICAP is seeking to provide, must also be captured.


Targeting Strategies

It is important to note that targeting strategies take time; require resources to be maintained; that building on smaller programmes and support measures can create openings that can lead to better engagement and outcomes. To that end engaging with representative groups, to learn from their own work and knowledge of other initiatives, could be of assistance in designing local responses to particular issues. Networking is another important tool, bringing people together whose collective experiences have much to contribute to the work of a programme like SICAP. 


Community Development Approaches

The consultation document noted that actions across both goals in the current SICAP programme must be underpinned by community development approaches and principles. Properly resourcing community development within SICAP and throughout other programmes is vital. In particular, providing communities with the wherewithal to work collectively to identify and address the challenges they are facing; while creating a supportive policy environment to ensure that these issues are responded to appropriately both locally and nationally.


Key Emerging Areas for Consideration

  • In the Economic Recovery Plan 2021 the Government noted “Supporting Social Enterprise, which can provide access to jobs for the most marginalised in society, including through the National Social Enterprise Policy 2019 – 2022 and the Working for Change: Social Enterprise and Employment Strategy;” (p55) The INOU has called on the Government to properly support community led social enterprises seeking to address exclusion from the labour market and improve access to affordable supports and services.
  • Climate change initiatives and just transition are issues where acknowledging and addressing the needs of people who have few resources, whose lived experience is one of poverty and socio-economic exclusion can appear to pull in the opposite direction to the policies required to address the implications of climate change. A programme like SICAP could provide the resources to facilitate local communities to explore this issue and how it should be addressed in a truly just, inclusive, and sustainable manner. 
  • A programme like SICAP can create spaces where people collectively and individually can articulate and tease out issues of concern like mental health; identify potential solutions; and if these are not available through SICAP provide guidance on where more appropriate supports may be available. 
  • The Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty is an important development and one that could create a mechanism through which learning from a programme like SICAP is fed into the work of key Government Departments and public bodies. This Duty needs to be more than a reporting exercise, and must inform how Government Departments and public bodies undertake their work, ensuring that people and communities most excluded in Irish society are not further marginalised as Ireland seeks to progress and become a better place in which to live and work. 

The full submission is ( linked here ).