Concerns raised over the future of Step Ahead Programme-McCartney
Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called on the Minister for Employment and Learning Stephen Farry to clarify the future of the Step Ahead Programme following concerns in the community and voluntary sectors in Derry about the future of the programme.
The programme was launched in 2009 and was aimed at people who have been out of work for 30 months or more.
Raymond McCartney said “When the Steps to Work was launched it was in direct response to the economic downturn and the increasing numbers of unemployed.
At that time the then Minister Reg Empey said it is anticipated that this initiative would last up to two years or until the economy shows signs of recovery. Clearly the economy has not recovered and we have more people on the dole queues.
There is a concern in Derry that this scheme could be under threat .Many of those working on the scheme have been involved in very important projects such “ Operation Snowball” and without their assistance community groups may struggle to meet the needs of the community.
I have raised those concerns with the new Minister Stephen Farry .It is crucial that projects like this ,which are working and are having a positive impact on local communities continue.