What is RAPID
The RAPID (Revitalising Areas by Planning, Investment and Development) Programme is a Government initiative, which targets 51 of the most disadvantaged urban areas in the country. The Programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to these 51 designated areas by focusing State resources available. The programme is led by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and requires all Government Departments and State Agencies to bring about better co-ordination and closer integration in the delivery of services.
The Revitalising Areas by Planning, Investment and Development (RAPID) programme is aimed at improving the quality of life and the opportunity available to residents of the most disadvantaged communities in Irish towns and cities. It aims, in a focused and practical way, to reduce the deprivations faced by residents of disadvantaged communities. It attempts to do this through targeting significant state resources at the needs of disadvantaged areas.
RAPID in Westmeath
County Westmeath has two designated RAPID areas
1. Athlone - which has 6 areas of the town identified as RAPID areas
a. Sarsfield Square Estate
b. WillowPark Estate
c. BatteryHeights Estate
d. Blackberry Lane
e. Ashdale/ Woodland Grove Estate
f. Monksland ( Cedarwood Drive Estate, County Roscommon)
The RAPID area in Mullingar town including the estates of Grange, Farran, Raithin, D’Alton Park, Ennell and Michael’s Park.
How does RAPID operate:
Community and Voluntary participation is at the heart of the RAPID Programme. RAPID Structures have been devised to give communities a strong input into the plan for their own areas. The main two structures under RAPID programme are the Area Implementation Team and the Rapid Community Forum.
- A RAPID Area Implementation Team (AIT) is established in both Athlone and Mullingar to support the development and delivery of a plan in their area. This was done by bringing together local State Agency personnel (Garda, HSE, Local Authority, ETBs, Dept of Social Protection, Sonas, Family Resource Centers, Sports Partnerships etc) the local Partnership Company and residents of the local community. (See appendix 3 for AIT membership in Westmeath)
- A RAPID Community Forum consisting of community representatives from areas town was established and meets on a regular basis. These Fora have community membership from their residents associations and community groups working in the designated RAPID areas. The Fora’s role is to assist the AIT in developing local community plans and identify issues that arise in their areas which can be addressed by the community and AIT members. It is imperative that the Community Fora membership is supported in meeting and being actively involved in the development and implementation of local community plans.
Local Programme Objectives
In each local RAPID area, a local plan is developed which defines a series of issues, objectives and actions that are key to the RAPID programme locally. This framework intentionally allows local areas full scope to define the practical issues which are of most importance in responding to local disadvantage and need. Decision-making on what is contained in the local RAPID plan happens within each area. The knowledge and experience of the local community and the other RAPID participants have been the basis for developing these local plans to reflect the local situation and meet local needs. Typically the local plans contain actions that address but are not limited to the following themes
- Community Engagement
- Environmental actions
- Sports programmes
- Training and educational programmes
- Employment supports
At local level, planning and implementation is overseen by the Area Implementation Team (AIT). Each area is also supported by the RAPID Co-ordinator. The RAPID Co-ordinator is instrumental in organising and assisting the Area Implementation Team and the Community Fora in developing and implementing its plan. Also, in working with the local community and agencies to identify needs and in maximise agency/community participation and in ensuring co-ordinated delivery of services and investment. The Co-ordinators responsibilities include negotiating local opportunities, inputting into ranges of planning/delivery/monitoring of local projects and ensuring that the programme takes full advantage of available resources.
Annette Barr Jordan
Community Development Section,
Westmeath County Council,
Tel: (044) 9332217