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Communities First is a Welsh Government Community Focussed Tackling Poverty Programme. The programme supports the most disadvantaged people in the most deprived areas of Wales with the aim of contributing to alleviating persistent poverty.
The original Communities First Programme was launched in 2001 as the flagship Welsh Government Programme to tackle poverty in the most disadvantaged areas in Wales. In its first decade the programme was delivered principally through over 150 local partnerships. These were concentrated mainly in the cities, valleys and coastal towns, with at least one in each of the 22 unitary authorities of Wales.
Following consultation in 2011, the then Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant, announced that from April 2012 the Communities First Programme would become a Community Focussed Tackling Poverty Programme.
There is now an increased emphasis on ensuring that the programme supports the most vulnerable people living in deprived areas.
The Programme is now based on fewer, larger areas than previously, each covering a population of, on average, 10-15,000 people, known as Communities First Clusters. Each Cluster is focussed around areas which are among the 10% most deprived in Wales according to the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD) 2011.
There are 52 Communities First Clusters which between them include all of the communities which are eligible for inclusion in the programme.
Each Cluster is managed by a Lead Delivery Body (LDB) which is responsible for ensuring that the programme is well managed, that funding is used to deliver agreed outcomes and that communities are fully involved.
Each Cluster has a Community Involvement Plan to ensure that local people and community organisations play a full part in the programme and are kept fully informed of its activities. There is greater flexibility than in the past for each Cluster to develop the structures that suit the area, rather than following a single standard model for all.
Each Cluster also has a Delivery Plan to show how its work contributes to the three Strategic Outcomes. A new Communities First Outcomes Framework is being developed to provide a much clearer picture of what is being achieved by each Cluster and by the Programme overall.
The Communities First Programme is supported by a National Support Programme with three elements.
The Training and Support service delivers advice and training courses to help the Communities First Clusters, including staff and volunteers, to meet their objectives and improve their effectiveness in tackling poverty in their communities. The service is delivered by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).
The Workforce Development programme ensures that there are plans in place to meet the needs of Communities First and other community development programmes in Wales in future. This work is led by Community Development Cymru, working closely with education providers, employers and other agencies with relevant expertise.
The Media Support service works with Clusters to help them promote their work and achievements in all forms of media, including the internet, print, and audio visual. The service also delivers national and regional Communities First conferences.