Catherine Murnin, Programme Manager, reflects on the Elevate journey so far…

“With the Elevate programme running now for just under six months, there has already been much learning and much to juggle! Progress has, however, been continuous in bringing forward the four elements of Elevate – the Portal, the Capacity Building Training Programme, the Mentoring & Grants Programme and the Community Development Outcomes Framework.

It is really encouraging to know that in this pilot period, Elevate is making a difference and achieving the original aim of expanding community development approaches as a means to reduce health inequalities.  There is a strong feeling of partnership and collaboration within and across the Programme and I have been absolutely delighted with the engagement.


People have booked training, accessed resources and shared these resources with others through – they have also taken the opportunity to connect with other organisations and agencies who have a presence online. Work is underway behind the scenes on building some online learning content for the Portal. This will include case studies, supported by infographics, to showcase real life stories around reducing health inequalities and embedding a community development approach. The addition of the Electronic Self-Assessment Tool (ESAT) will support individuals and groups to reflect and develop plans for their own approaches and learning.

Capacity Building Training Programme

Elevate’s Capacity Building Training Programme is well underway. Participants have joined us from volunteer led groups, community organisations, voluntary organisations and from statutory bodies including councils, health and social care and government departments. Over the two day programme, our Elevate training facilitators explore what health inequalities are, why they exist and how they can be reduced. The feedback from people attending has been really positive with comments supporting the rationale behind the Elevate Programme as a way to develop and share skills, knowledge and expertise; to empower individuals and communities; to promote collaboration and encourage a collective action approach to reducing health inequalities.

People have gained new skills and learning and have developed connections with others at both local and regional level. We have seen examples of social workers setting up meetings with social prescribers as well as funded organisations setting up activities with volunteer-led groups. Social enterprises have arranged visits to other facilities while volunteers are finding out about other training and funding opportunities available. Organisations have connected further with CDHN through the Building Community Pharmacy Partnership grants programme and the Self Care Pharmacy project. Training will continue across Northern Ireland until February 2020 and dates are available here – we will be adding some evening and Saturday dates, you asked and we listened!

Mentoring & Grants Programme

Through the Mentoring & Grants Programme, relationships are being built between the Elevate team, the mentoring organisations and the mentees. The shared learning and collaboration is only just underway in this piece of work but already we can see where confidence is growing, creativity is flowing and individual thinking is turning into collective action at community level. Our mentoring organisations, County Down Rural Community Network (South Eastern Trust), ARC Healthy Living Centre (Western Trust), MEAAP (Northern Trust), SPACE (Southern Trust) and Women’s Tec (Belfast) will mentor a range of groups in local areas. We are excited that the successful applicants for Elevate’s Mentoring & Grants Programme have been confirmed and a full list willl be available shortly.

These groups will be offered a range of training, networking and support opportunities as well as using the grants allocated to bring their ideas to life, focusing on using community development approaches to reduce health inequalities at local level. We are excited to see how this work progresses over the coming months. There are so many opportunities to expand community development approaches and build capacity for local groups to focus on reducing health inequalities. It will be great to share the learning from this!

Community Development Outcomes Framework (CDOF)

Through testing the Community Development Outcomes Framework (CDOF) we are learning what lands well (or not as the case may be) with different audiences and this evidence will be really helpful in shaping future funding and planning ideas around embedding a CDOF approach for Northern Ireland.

It is going to be a fantastic few months ahead and we are so looking forward to meeting and engaging with even more people and organisations. As always if anyone would like to connect with me or simply find out more about the Elevate programme, please send an email to