It is a priority to ensure that the benefits of having a world-class hospital are fully realised in the neighbouring communities of Dublin 8 and 12. A Community Benefits Programme Manager has been employed to drive this agenda, with direction from an independently chaired Community Benefits Oversight Group which includes all relevant stakeholders i.e. the Children’s Hospital Group, St. James’s Hospital; National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, Dublin City Council; Department of Social Protection; City of Dublin Educational Training Board; HSE; Tusla, An Garda Síochána and local community networks and partnerships. The primary and driving focus of this Committee is that full social gain will be optimised with the siting of the New Children’s Hospital in the campus of St James’s.
Community benefit (also sometimes known as social value or social gain) is a strategic process aimed at ensuring that where a major capital infrastructure is being built the impact of this investment is maximised for the benefit of neighbouring communities – through the provision of jobs, education and training opportunities and supporting local business.
As its first action, the Oversight Committee commissioned the ‘Harnessing the Potential’ EY Report which broadly identified the types of employment, education and enterprise opportunities that might arise during the construction phase of the project and beyond to when the hospital is open. In addition, a full audit of the community was undertaken to identify the education and employment supports that are available or required to assist, in particular, unemployed or young people to secure employment with the project – again both in construction and operational stages. Research was undertaken on how social value has been used in the procurement process in state funded construction projects in the UK and elsewhere and how this might be utilised in the construction and operation of the new children’s hospital.
The Community Benefit Oversight Group has identified four priority themes to implement as its main action items, namely to:
In its first year of operation the Community Benefit Programme has undertaken substantial work in order to develop an innovative Community Benefit Clause which has now been included in all the construction tenders. This Community Benefit Clause sets out clear specified targets in relation to job and work experience, business in education activities and support mechanisms for local business to become aware of and bid for opportunities that may arise in the supply chain.