West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Rural Challenges Programme Now Open to Applications

Published: 18 September, 2012

Sinn Féin Mid Tyrone councillor Sean Clarke has urged local rural community and voluntary groups to prepare now if they wish to apply for the Rural Challenges programme. The programme encourages rural community and voluntary groups to identity a need and propose an initiative to address a poverty or social isolation issue with their rural community.

Councillor Clarke said the scheme could allow potential groups to access up to £10,000 in funding to tackle identified issues. Speaking on the matter councillor Clarke said:

"The Rural Challenge Programme, which is anchored through the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, (DARD) aims to tackle rural poverty and social isolation and is now open to receiving applications. Up to £700,000 has been made available to rural community groups who can demonstrate need and who propose imaginative initiatives to tackle these needs.

"Seven target beneficiary groups have been identified for the programme, these are: Children and Young People, Lone Parents, Unemployed, Disabled, Carers, Elderly and ethnic minorities.

"Certainly in my experience as a local councillor dealing with issues on the ground I can verify that such a need exists in my own rural constituency of Mid Tyrone, and I am assured that this would be the case in very many rural areas in Tyrone and further afield. Only last week we as councillors were briefed by the Housing Executive who revealed that over 50% of people in the Omagh District were now living in fuel poverty. This is ample evidence, if any were needed, that such a programme is needed in rural areas of the Omagh District. This fund aims to help and assist all of those who are affected in such ways in these difficult times.

"So I would urge rural community and voluntary groups to apply for the Rural Challenges programmes and avail of the funding which is available to tackle rural poverty and social isolation. The scheme is open to receiving applications from now until 4pm on Friday 14th December when they will close. So any group wishing to avail of this opportunity must prepare now and ensure their applications are submitted in advance of Friday 14th December.

There will be an information session on the Rural Challenges Programme in the Ecclesville Centre in Fintona on Wednesday October 10th between 10am-1pm and in Loughrey College, Cookstown on Friday 9th November between 2pm-5pm for any groups interested in applying for the programme.