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Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA, today met a number of rural community organisations in County Armagh which have received assistance through the Marginalised Minority Communities in Rural Border Areas measure of DAERA’s Rural Community Development Support Service Programme.

Speaking in Bessbrook Town Hall, where he met representatives from Bessbrook Institute, Kingsmill Youth Group and the Fews Community Group, the Minister said: “The Department’s Rural Community Development Support Service has played a pivotal role in helping rural community groups gain the confidence and capacity to help improve the quality of life for residents in their areas. This was particularly evident during the last 12 months when these groups were involved in co-ordinating the public sector response to the Covid-19 Emergency Response Plan and local frontline delivery of supplies and services to those most in need. 

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA is pictured with (left to right) Allen Hawthorne, The Frews Community Association; Rosemary Harpur, Kingsmill Youth Group and George McKelvey, Bessbrook Institute
DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA is pictured with (left to right) Allen Hawthorne, The Frews Community Association; Rosemary Harpur, Kingsmill Youth Group and George McKelvey, Bessbrook Institute

“This work also identified a disparity in the capacity of some rural groups. While many are strong and confident and provide a wide range of services to their local community, in some areas, particularly rural border areas where there are pockets of minority communities, the capacity is weaker. The Marginalised Minority Communities in Rural Border Areas measure of DAERA’s Rural Community Development Support Service seeks to address this by providing tailored support to build capacity in these areas  and help these groups play a full and active role in helping their communities grow and flourish’. 

The Minister indicated that the tender process for the new three year Rural Community Development Support Service Programme, financed from the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Inclusion (TRPSI) programme, is due to commence shortly. Funding for the programme, which assists over 1,800 groups across Northern Ireland will be increased from just under £700,000 to just over £960,000 per annum reflecting the additional needs of rural communities.

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