Pioneering Community Benefit Programme driving regeneration in the area surrounding the new children’s hospital

  • Almost 1,830 work weeks delivered by new entrants*, and 2,431.5 work weeks by local workers
  • 10 apprenticeships created to date with more to come on stream this year
  • €2.5 million spent to date by main contractor on local contracts and suppliers
  • 3 contracts awarded to social enterprises

An update on the new children’s hospital project was delivered to the Dublin City Council South Central Area Committee this week by representatives from the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) and Children’s Health Ireland (CHI).

The new children’s hospital is currently under construction on the campus shared with St James’s Hospital in Dublin. It’s due to be completed by the end of 2022 and, following a period of transition and commissioning, is scheduled to be opened by CHI in 2023.

The councillors received an update on the project’s Community Benefit Programme, which is considered to be one of the most pioneering programmes of its kind in Ireland.  The overarching objective of the Community Benefit Programme is to maximise the benefit to the local community from the new children’s hospital from the construction phase to being fully operational. In terms of construction and when operational.

Established 4 years ago, the programme is managed by a full-time Community Benefit Programme Manager employed by the NPHDB, Ingrid McElroy, and is led by an Oversight Group chaired by Independent chair, Gordon Jeyes. Members of the group include St Teresa’s Gardens Regeneration Board, Dublin City Council, Dolphin House & Park Regeneration Board, the NPHDB. Inchicore Regeneration Consultation Forum, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, HSE, Kilmainham Inchicore Network, City of Dublin Education & Training Board, Fatima Groups United, Dublin Inner City Community Co-op, Children’s Health Ireland, Dublin South City Partnership, and St James’s Hospital.

The focus of the independent Community Benefit Oversight Group is to maximise employment and training opportunities, to support local business, particularly small and social enterprises, to raise aspirations through education and to build community health and wellbeing.

The NPHDB is using pioneering methods to ensure that the local community benefits as much as possible, including innovative ‘community benefit clauses’ in all project related construction contracts, and ‘reserved contracts’ for social enterprises. It is one of the first public projects of its kind to use both.

Together with the main contractor BAM and the design team, the NPHDB has held two ‘Meet the Buyer’ events to inform businesses about upcoming opportunities, and BAM has spent €2.5 million to date on local contracts and suppliers.

Separately, three ‘reserved contracts’ have been awarded to local social enterprises, a cleaning contract to the F2 Centre, a catering contract to the Arch Café, and We Make Good, Ireland’s first social enterprise design brand, and Palls Limerick collaborated to design and create bespoke frames to display the artwork of children attending the new paediatric outpatients and urgent care centre at CHI Connolly in Blanchardstown which opened last July.

Almost 1,830 work weeks have been delivered by new entrants*, and 2,431.5 work weeks have been delivered by local workers working on the construction site of the hospital, and to date 10 apprenticeships have also been created in mechanical and electrical trades, with more due to come on stream later this year.

The new children’s hospital is being developed in an area that is characterised by pockets of significant socio-economic deprivation and, in order to raise the aspirations of local children and young people, a series of initiatives have been undertaken including a street art project on which 3 local youth groups collaborated and a healthcare science education programme has been developed by Children’s Health Ireland and the social enterprise STEAM Education, and delivered in 2 local schools introducing  school children to all the various different careers that will exist at the hospital. More than 1,000 children and young people have participated in the various events delivered through the project’s Community Benefit Programme in the last four years, including two construction career days held for secondary school and further education students.

Gordon Jeyes, Independent Chairman of the Community Benefit Oversight Group said; “Thanks to the commitment of local community groups and public agencies, including Dublin City Council, a very good start has been made to maximise the benefits of the new children’s hospital for the community. It is very encouraging that everyone has come together to ensure that this once in a lifetime opportunity is realised and becomes long term and sustainable. The community benefit activity promotes area regeneration through education, employment, environmental action and enterprise. Potentially the pieces are in place for community benefit to be world class and make a difference to the local area. “

Ingrid McElroy, Community Benefit Programme Manager with the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board said; “We are proud to be delivering what we consider to be one of the most pioneering community benefit programmes in the country. Together with the local community groups, businesses and schools, we’re working to create a better future for the community, a future that sees the local area really benefit from this investment.  The programme is very holistic and ‘bottom up’ in its approach, and we hope that its legacy will be long lasting and meaningful.”

Joe Donohoe, Project Manager with Fatima Groups United works in the F2 Centre, which neighbours the new children’s hospital site, said “the location of the hospital in the area will make an enormous difference to the local community; “The area the hospital is located in has in the past been considered one of the most challenging in the country, but that is changing and with the hospital coming it will change even more. We couldn’t have asked for a better development to come into the community, it will be a real gamechanger for this area.”

The Principal of local school Canal Way Education Together, Dermot Stanley, said that he hopes the programmes delivered by CHI will inspire school students; “There are children living in close proximity to the construction site who come from backgrounds with high levels of unemployment in their homes or neighbourhoods. The programmes delivered in local schools provide a window into the hospital and another world for them encouraging them to aim high in their career aspirations.”

Simon Watson, Team Development Manager with Jones Engineering Group said “Because of the Community Benefit Clause in the construction contracts we did a specific recruitment drive with schools, youth and community groups and the local employment service and now have 7 talented young apprentices employed from the area.”

Applications for this year are now open for the Education Bursaries and the Community Grants Scheme – Closing date is 31/3/2020. Information and application forms can be downloaded here:

Community Benefit Education bursaries for the new children’s hospital Info Application Form

BAM’s Community Benefit Grant Info Application Form


Notes to Editor

  • *New entrants are defined as long-term unemployed, school and college leavers and new entrants to the construction industry.
  • ** A Reserved Contract is one that Under Public Procurement Regulation reserves tendering procedures for sheltered workshops, social enterprises or companies that have a specific aim to promote the integration of disadvantaged persons