MOSAIC - An Overview

Michael Corbett and Padraig McGuinness

Introduction and Background to MOSAIC

MOSAIC stands for Mayo Organisation for a Sustainable and Integrated Community. The MOSAIC Initiative dates back to mid 2004 when a number of local agencies and service providers in the community and disability sectors begun to explore opportunities to integrate their services. The main driver for this scoping exercise was the need for more and better operational and meeting space. Many of the partners were increasingly experiencing inefficiencies through inaccessible and inadequate space, the lost time factorin traveling to meetings and the difficulty in planning modern service provision from a number of sites. All of this together with a policy push towards service integration led to MOSAIC's development as a project concept.

Throughout 2005 the concept was developed by Disability Federation Ireland, Mayo Centre for Independent Living, Work Web West the Health Service Executive, and Enable Ireland along with other community and voluntary organizations and concluded with the production of a project feasibility for the development of the multi-agency community resource centre. A major theme of the project was to use the opportunity presented by a new centre to mainstream services to particular user groups by drawing the community at large into the centre.

In early 2006 the MOSAIC Steering Group secured project funding from Pobal to appoint a project management team under the Enhancing Disability Services Programme (EDS). This also led to the establishment of MOSAIC Ltd in March 2006 to formalize the development of the project and to provide a legal entity for funding and asset transfer.

The MOSAIC Centre

MOSAIC is working towards the development of purpose built multi-agency community resource centre as stated in project vision -

"The development of a modern, innovative, and vibrant
Community Resource Centre. housing a wide range of support organisations providing quality services to local communities".

The new centre and the wider MOSAIC initiative is undoubtedly one of the most unique and innovative projects to emerge in the community sector in Ireland in recent times. The MOSAIC Centre (approx. 1,900 sq. Mts. / 20,000 sq. ft.) will accommodate back and front office functions, meeting space, training and workshop space and multifunctional community and conference space. These functional spaces will be complemented by open public access space in a warm and inviting environment and thus breaking down traditional institutional barriers to support and community participation.

Services available in the MOSAIC Centre will include:

  • Employment Services
  • Information Services
  • HSE Community Services
  • Disability Support Services
  • Community Development Services
  • Local Community Radio Station
  • A number of smaller organizations active in the local
    community sector

In addition to providing modern accessible office, workshop and training space to MOSAIC tenants and their service users the centre will have at its heart considerable space for community activities and events.

At the core of MOSAIC, universal accessibility and functional integration are key elements to the design and working of the building. Users and visitors need to be able to access and circulate the building with ease and comfort which will also promote the objective of fusing services in the eyes of the user or client. Creating a shared service centre for complimentary service providers will contribute towards enhanced provision but also provide efficiencies and economies of scale in delivering shared central facilities and services internally.

Key Features of the MOSAIC Centre

Apart from offering an innovative solution to office, meeting, service provision and community access space, the MOSAIC Centre will also incorporate a number of innovative features to act as a best practice demonstration model for:

  • Multi-agency Central Service Location
  • Modern Community Facility
  • Universal Accessible Design
  • IT and Digital Media Technologies
  • Sustainable Construction and Green

Each of these features will be present in the design and functionality of the building and will be furthered through demonstration projects and policy development in a real working environment.

Service Integration through MOSAIC

The MOSAIC Centre is about fusing services as much as it is a response to demand for modern and accessible office and meeting space. The benefits of complementary service providers and agencies 'living & working' together provides economic efficiencies as well as communication efficiencies leading to a better understanding of the package of support by provider and end user.

This multi-agency model of working and sharing facilities will transform the way communities access services. MOSAIC seeks to achieve a level of service integration that will blur the lines of distinction between agencies, particularly in the eyes of the service user - the individual being able access a package or services through MOSAIC.

Purpose in the Community

MOSAIC's purpose in the community is to provide a facility for community based projects and activities and an environment that generates community participation across a diverse range of groups. In this context MOSAIC specifically seeks to mainstream services to marginalised groups including disability, socially excluded and economically disadvantaged and other minority groups by bringing together all sectors of society rather than further polarising the provision of services and activity in discrete and ISOlated venues and environments. It is envisaged that the design of MOSAIC will allow for a variety of formal and informal spaces to be used in a multifunctional capacity at different times of the day and evenings and weekends.

Policy Context for MOSAIC

The policy context for MOSAIC has evolved and strengthened over the past decade. During this period a number of important policy initiatives have been developed by the Irish government; policy initiatives that support and promote MOSAIC-type approaches to improving the community services infrastructure at the local level. Some of the major policy initiatives and pieces of legislation that shape the policy context for MOSAIC include:

  • 1992 Earth Summit and AgeNDA 21
  • 1996 Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities
  • Quality Customer Services Initiative
  • Community & Voluntary Sector White Paper
  • Equality Acts 2000 & 2004
  • National Action Plans Against Poverty and Social
  • National Disability Strategy 2004 and Disability Act
  • Local AgeNDA 21 and subsequent Sustainable Development
  • Local Development Cohesion Process
  • Active Citizenship Programme
  • National Development Plan 2007-2013
  • Towards 2016

Mainstreaming Social Inclusion

"Mainstreaming social inclusion is the integration of poverty and social inclusion objectives, including an equality perspective, into all areas and levels of policy-making and that is promoted through the participation of public bodies, social partners, NGOs and other relevant

A fundamental support to the development of the social inclusion framework and the wider social inclusion ageNDA in Ireland has been the introduction of a number of pieces of equality legislation and in particular the Equal Status Act 2000 and Equality Act 2004 which seek to ensure equality of access in the provision of good and services. At government programme level social inclusion has also increasingly taken centre stage through a number of key plans and programmes including the National Anti-Poverty Strategy, the National Action Plans Against Poverty and Social Inclusion, the National Development Plans, and the Social Partnership Agreements. The level of priority been afforded to these areas is clearly reflected in the new National Development Plan 2007-2013 which has committed €50bilion to social inclusion actions across the plan.

Public Service Modernisation

The modernisation of public services has also been a central policy objective of the government over the past tens years and efforts here have had implications for public service provision at all levels; from central government to the social and community services infrastructure at local level. The focus and challenge here has been to deliver more effective and efficient services to end users in a cost effective manner and this challenge has seen the development of a number of important public service modernisation initiatives. Following on from the Strategic Management Initiative and Delivering Better Government in the mid-1990's the Quality Customer Services Initiative introduced a new level of commitment to modernising public services and ensuring the delivery of quality public services to both internal and external users/clients.

One direct outcome of the public service modernisation process at the local level can be seen in the emergence of the 'one-stop-shop' or 'public services centre' model developed by local authorities and statutory agencies in several areas around the country. These new centres demonstrate a real and tangible improvement in the delivery and accessibility of public services through the integration of a range of local authority and additional public services into central, shared and modern facilities.

Cohesion and Supporting Local Communities

Policy in the local government and the wider local development sector has also witnessed important changes in recent years. Increased co-operation, collaboration, and integration of services between agencies is now the established model for local government and local development in Ireland. This model has developed most notably through the Better Local Government programme and the establishment of the County and City Development Boards (CDB's) under the Local Government Act 2000. Prior to the establishment of the CDB's theReport of the Task Force on Local Integration [1] outlined a number of core principles required for the development of a more effective local development sector including:

  • Community Development
  • Social Inclusion
  • Partnership and Participation
  • Voluntary Effort
  • Simplicity
  • Value for money

These principles are now increasingly reflected in the new model of local development that has emerged in Ireland. This is further evidenced in the Local Development Cohesion Processwhich explicitly seeks to achieve the better integration of services and use of resources amongst local/community development agencies.

"A more informed and 'joined-up' approach to local development designed to effectively engage the various Government Departments, Agencies and of course, Communities is required." Minister Eamon O Cuiv T.D. - Sept 2003

The CDB and Cohesion process demonstrate that local agencies, organisations and communities are now increasingly engaged in framework of co- operation and collaboration that supports inter-agency approaches to delivering more effective services to their communities. This position is echoed in a recent NESF report on improving the delivery of public services notes the value of co-operation at the local level and highlights the CDB's as an emerging vehicle for a more effective integration and delivery of local services[2].

Sustainable Development Policy

Finally, sustainable development policy is another area which directly informs the MOSAIC initiative. Never before have environmental and sustainability concerns been so high on the national and international policy agenda. This is clear from the centrality afforded to sustainable development policy in our new National Development Plan and Social Partnership Agreement. While environmental and sustainability concerns are now broadly accepted as impinging on all areas of life, the sustainable development ageNDA has been steadily penetrating national and international policy for some time now and in particular since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and the emergence of Agenda 21. Often seen in purely 'environment' terms AgeNDA 21 (including Local AgeNDA 21) provides a much wider and integrated framework for achieving sustainable development including economic, social and institutional considerations and impacts.

From this integrated perspective sustainable development can be seen to be at the heart of MOSAIC on two different levels. Firstly in the MOSAIC centre itself - the design and construction of the building and its long-term operation. And secondly in the wider initiative - where MOSAIC becomes a active player and indeed leader in promoting sustainable development initiatives at community level. The Local AgeNDA 21, through the Local Authorities, and the LEADER and National Rural Development Programmes have been successful, innovative and exciting sustainable development initiatives. Typical example here include eco-tourism projects, recycling and waste management initiatives, and renewable energy in the visionary initiatives such as The Green Box in the North West and the Dolmen Centre in Donegal. This view is clearly expressed by Comhar, the national Sustainable Development Council, to government for the establishment of a 'Sustainability Fund' the purpose of which should be:

"to invest in enterprise and community activity within and across sectors that achieve demonstrated improvement in environmental performance, while also advancing competitiveness and social cohesion." Comhar Towards Sustainability in the National Development Plan 2007-2016

Best Practice for MOSAIC

MOSAIC seeks to be a model of best practice in its field by combining the best features of the integrated services model and acting as a true community hub. In identifying best practice and learning from other successful initiatives a number of best practice criteria have been established for MOSAIC. These include:

  • Co-location service delivery
  • Successful (cross-sectoral) service
  • Community engagement and participation
  • Universally accessible building and services
  • Secure revenue streams ensuring long-term

A number of central factors are known to drive best practice in the area of integrated service delivery. These include:

  • Greater demand for quality and accessible public
  • Partnership working and collaboration between statutory
    and non statutory agencies and the outsourcing of service delivery;
  • Recognition that fragmentation leads to
  • Delivery of services;
  • Better value for money in the delivery of public
    services, improved efficiencies for agencies and customers and contributing to
    the competitiveness of the economy generally;
  • A growth in the replication of the
    'one-stop-shop' model of service provision; and
  • Spatial and transport planning policy favouring a
    clustering services approach.

Ireland has in recent years seen the emergence of the public services centre or one-stop-shop model - a partnership approach between local authorities and other public service providers. A small number of these centres have been successfully developed in different parts of the country such Donegal, Sligo, Waterford, and more recently (albeit in a slightly different model) in Bellmullet Co. Mayo. These centres bring together in one location a wide range of services that generally includes local authority services, FAS, Library services, HSE community services, Comhairle, and the Dept. Of Social and Family Affairs. Different centres have also incorporated the services of the Citizens Information Centre, Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), and local development agencies.

Internationally the public services centre or one-stop-shop model is also becoming increasingly established as a best practice approach to delivering public services e.g.Community Contact Centres (Engalnd), Community ACCESS Centres (Canada), Customer Service Centres (Australia). Recent research on one-stop-shops in England has endorsed the success of this model in supporting the integration of local services and in making services more effective and accessible to local communities.[3]

Policy Conclusions

It can be seen from the foregoing that MOSAIC displays a strong consistency with government policy. It is the view of the organisation that the current policy and programme context is ripe for the full delivery of the MOSAIC initiative. As an inclusive, community initiative MOSAIC seeks to establish a new level of partnership and collaboration between the State, its agencies, and the local community. Central to MOSAIC is integration and cohesion, and a more effective and efficient delivery of services to local communities. In addition to this two core principles which have informed and will continue to drive MOSAIC are universal access and sustainability.

A Note on Universal Accessibility in MOSAIC

Promoting universal accessibility has been at the heart of MOSAIC since the inception of the initiative. A real understanding and appreciation of universal accessibility as a way of thinking and doing is still relatively new in Ireland and in this context MOSAIC sees itself as an important front runner alongside organizations like the new Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. The MOSAIC Centre will be a universally accessible building with universally accessible services and facilities - people of all abilities will be able to visit, use and work in the MOSAIC Centre. In addition to this MOSAIC will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, expertise and ethos between its tenant groups, creating the ideal environment for the mainstreaming of universal accessibility across the organizational base. In short, achieving universal accessibility is a fully developed commitment rather than simply an ambition for MOSAIC.

[1] Report on the Taskforce on
the Integration of Local Government and Local Development Systems

NESF Report No.34 Improving the Delivery of Quality Public Services,

Tackling Social Exclusion, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 2004.