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DARD launch the Rural challenge Programme

3 September, 2009 - by Westminster

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development today launched a Rural Challenge Programme aimed at assisting in tackling poverty and social exclusion within rural communities.

This programme was developed as a direct response to issues identified in the Rural Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Framework developed during 2008/09.

Endorsing the launch of the Programme, Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gildernew said:

“There are urgent poverty and social exclusion issues that need addressed in rural areas. I believe one way to successfully target these issues is through the Rural Challenge Programme.

“This innovative Programme is all about getting to the core of poverty and social exclusion issues at a very local level. I would encourage community and voluntary groups, who are best placed to know and understand their local issues, to avail of the funding through the Challenge Programme.”

The “challenge aspect” of the Programme is for rural groups to identify local poverty and social exclusion issues and provide solutions that address the particular and distinct challenges faced by rural communities. These challenges can be addressed through the development of a series of locally focussed projects which can be funded through the Challenge Programme.

The Minister concluded:

“This Challenge Programme will allow for poverty and social exclusion issues to be identified and actions taken to address them. The way the Programme has been structured will also allow for ongoing research of the projects funded and their beneficiaries. The information gathered from this research will be shared with others across Government and will shape future policy and decision making to the benefit of rural dwellers.”

The Challenge Programme also includes Best Practice Workshops which all applicants will have to attend prior to submitting an application. These workshops will involve applicants from the very start of the process and assist them in identifying the poverty and exclusion issues in their area, the people affected and the most suitable responses required for each local area.

Applications to the Rural Challenge Programme will be welcomed from voluntary and community based organisations who must at the time of application, have a formal constitution or set of rules and a specific bank account.

The Rural Challenge Programme is administered from Rural Development Division, 21 Hospital Road, Omagh, County Tyrone. Application packs are available from today and can be obtained by contacting RDD Omagh (Tel - 028 82 247727) or emailing [email protected] The deadline for receipt of completed applications is 5.00pm on 30 October 2009.

Notes to editors:

1. The Programme for Government has made a commitment to address rural poverty and social exclusion and has allocated DARD a £10million package to address these issues over the next three years.

2. When researching and formulating the rural Anti Poverty and Social Exclusion Framework it became clear that there major poverty and social exclusion issues for all of the Section 75 groupings in respect of Housing, Health and Well Being, Education, Transport and Access, Employment, Low Pay and Social and Recreational Opportunities.

3. The Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Framework can be viewed at archived section.

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