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An Integrated Approach to Regeneration in Rialto, Dublin

Resource type: News

The Atlantic Philanthropies |

March 2009 — The Dublin inner city area of Rialto has a population of 6,000. Within Rialto, the public housing estates of Fatima Mansions and Dolphin House are among the most disadvantaged in Ireland – experiencing high rates of early school leaving, and family poverty.

But the Fatima area is undergoing physical and social regeneration, including new homes for all residents, new public amenities, and a commitment within a wide ranging plan to tackle disadvantage. The Fatima Regeneration Board (FRB) was established in 2001, with support from the Dublin City Council, to spearhead the regeneration. This followed three decades of community struggle to highlight and respond to local problems including drugs and anti-social behaviour. Community groups came together to form Fatima Groups United in 1995

On his visit to Ireland in late March, The Atlantic Philanthropies CEO and President Gara LaMarche experienced the model of community regeneration which the people of Fatima have developed. It was created in the context of a public-private partnership which sees regeneration as more than just new houses, but instead as a progressive social agenda to address the key environmental, health, educational, cultural, recreational, and economic development issues of significance to the local community.

An example of the power of grass-roots activism and advocacy, the local groups involved ( have worked on a 10 year campaign for community regeneration, successfully combining resident efforts in partnership with Dublin city.

Commenting at the site visit, Atlantic’s President and CEO Gara LaMarche highlighted that, “The challenge for the community is to mould successfully an already advanced high quality physical regeneration, with social regeneration. Childcare centres and artists’ studios are as important as good housing and schools. Hence, the regeneration is mandated to look not just at structural or infrastructural issues, but envision, plan and implement in all the health, educational, cultural, recreational and economic matters that impact the local community. It deals with all the factors that create strength and well-being in a community.“

The Rialto Learning Community – An Example

Rialto has a tradition of innovative youth programmes, anchored in the work of the Rialto Youth Service which has provided programming since 1981, and the ArkLink project established as the first such community arts programme for youth with Atlantic support in 2000. Together with two local after-school clubs and 10 area schools, these programmes provided the basis for developing a model of out of school time services for Rialto’s children, and for other areas aiming to offer the opportunity for the informal and formal education sectors to collaborate on developing ‘wrap around’ services for local youth.

Atlantic has supported planning and initial roll-out through ‘The Rialto Learning Community’ which is now transitioning its efforts towards full implementation through a management group, led by Rialto Youth Services and the Fatima Regeneration Board, and also comprising the local agencies together with parent and youth representatives.

In common with other sites supported by Atlantic, the community is engaged in a process of evidence-based design and evaluation of these services, combining local expertise and insight with international knowledge of ‘what works’. Atlantic is in discussion with the community to take this agenda forward for a further three year period.