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Author: Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Published on 22 February 2012 04:30 PM

Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill today said tackling rural poverty and social isolation is a key priority.

The Minister was speaking as she launched a new framework that aims to provide measures worth up to £16million to support vulnerable people in our rural communities.

The Minister said: “The ‘Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation’ framework and associated action plan will help target the causes of social isolation and help those in poverty in rural areas throughout the North. This is recognised as a priority area in the recently published draft Programme for Government and the framework also has a direct link to the Rural White Paper Action Plan.”

The Minister explained further: “The framework will help support a range of activities that will make a difference, most in collaboration with other stakeholders. These will include: improving access to transport; maximising access to grants, benefits and services; the rural support charity; rural community development; fuel poverty schemes; a Health Checks programme; a Rural Youth Employability Programme; a Rural Young Entrepreneurs Programme; a services for older people project; a borewell requisition project; and a small grants programme.

“It is through these many interventions that our rural areas can continue to be sustainable. They will also help support the most vulnerable who are often forgot about but can make an enormous contribution to society.”

The Minister made the announcement at Opportunities for Older People (O4O), which is a community organisation in Cookstown who actively promote the quality of life for older people in the district through a series of support services.

Margaret Gilmore MBE, Chairperson of 040 said: "I know from first hand experience having received a small grant through the Rural Challenge Programme in 2010, the impact some small financial assistance can make on the lives of rural dwellers. It provides them with a focus and a stimulus which reduces the impact of social exclusion for those, in this case the elderly, that are most vulnerable."

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