Initiatives to tackle rural poverty and isolation

The Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation framework aims to help the most vulnerable rural dwellers facing poverty and isolation.

Tackling rural poverty and social isolation

The Tackling rural poverty and social isolation framework supports a package of measures worth up to £16 million to support vulnerable people in rural communities and target the root causes of social isolation. 

ARTS - Assisted Rural Travel Scheme

The Assisted Rural Travel Scheme (ARTS) was developed in conjunction with The Department for Regional Development.

It allows Smart Pass holders (in particular the elderly and disabled) access to concessionary travel on Rural Community Transport Partnership vehicles.

Contact your local Rural Community Transport Partnership for membership.

Contact details for Rural Community Transport Partnerships
Partnership Contact telephone number
14Down District Accessible Transport
t/a Down Community Transport
Innovation  House, Office 9, Down Business Centre
46 Belfast Road
028 4461 7900
Armagh Rural Transport
Office Suite 1, Armagh Business Centre
2 Loughgall Road
ARMAGH       BT61 7NH
028 3751 8151
Down Armagh Rural Transport Partnership Ltd
39 High Street
Co Armagh       BT66 8AH
028 3831 7810
Newry & Mourne Community Transport
Unit 14, Southern ITEC Business Park
52 Armagh Road
NEWRY       BT35 6DN
028 3026 5635
Cookstown Rural Community Transport
Unit 4, Derryloran Business Centre
Sandholes Road
COOKSTOWN          BT80 9LU
028 8676 7766
Dungannon & District Community Transport
22 Northland Row
Mid Ulster Community Transport
t/a Out & About Community Transport
Unit 15, Station Road Industrial Estate, MAGHERAFELT  BT45 5EY

028 7930 0123
028 7963 4616

Unit 12,  Strabane Enterprise Agency
Orchard Road Industrial Estate
Orchard Road
STRABANE         BT82 9FR

(Strabane Office)

028 7188 3282

Easilink  (Rural Link)
29B Gortrush Industrial Estate
Great Northern Road
OMAGH         BT78 5EJ

 (Omagh Office)

028 8224 8140

Lagan Valley Rural Transport
Units 1-6 PRM Complex
Rathdown Road,  Lissue Industrial Estate
Moira Road
LISBURN        BT28 2RE

028 9262 2030

Fax 028 9262 2800

South Antrim Community Transport
Unit 30, Dennison Industrial Estate
Mill Road
028 9334 2455
North Coast Community Transport
Ivan Wilson Complex
277 Dunhill Road
COLERAINE         BT51 3QJ
028 7032 1234
Fermanagh Community Transport
42 Enniskillen Business Centre
Lackaghaboy Industrial Estate
Tempo Road  ENNISKILLEN        BT74 4RL
028 6632 4260

MARA - Access to services, grants and benefits in rural areas

The MARA project is an interdepartmental regional service which aims to maximise access to local services, grants and benefits to support rural dwellers living in or at risk of poverty and social isolation. Trained enablers will visit 2,600 rural households during 2015/2016.

For further information or to arrange a household visit please contact Georgina Wolf by telephone on 028 9536 1128 or visit the MARA Project on the Public Health Agency website.

Rural Support

Rural Support operates a helpline which provides a listening ear and signposting service for farmers and rural dwellers.

Rural Support deals with a wide range of issues - from financial and legal matters, inheritance concerns and worries about stress and mental health. 

Rural Support also facilitate a Social Farming Support Service which will establish Social Farming as a beneficial day opportunity for individuals within the health and social care system who are living with a learning disability or mental health issue.

It will also assist farmers who wish to consider Social Farming as a viable business opportunity.

Telephone: 028 8676 0040,
Helpline number: 0845 606 7607

Contacting Elderly Rural Isolated project - CERI

DARD is currently supporting this pilot project, in conjunction with the Public Health Agency, in the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) area to address social isolation and to enhance independent living for rural elderly dwellers.

CERI is an extension of the Western Trust's original Flexi Care Scheme (which delivers shopping support, chaperoning, minor home maintenance services and befriending). The CERI project facilitates access to an extended range of services including Community Events, ICT training, Health Promotion initiatives and Health Improvement activities; thereby helping to reduce social isolation for vulnerable rural older people.  

The project is on schedule to deliver in excess of 100,000 interactions with the elderly in the pilot area by the end of March 2016 with the best practice and learning from the pilot  shared among the other Health Trusts.

Further information

Western Health and Social Care Trust: 028 7186 5256
DARD: 028 8225 3512

Community development

DARD supports community development with a focus on tackling rural poverty and isolation through improving the economic capability of rural areas 

by increasing access to various funding programmes, promoting the social economy, and building capacity.

This support is provided by seven lead service providers who provide a local community development support and advice service throughout all of rural Northern Ireland.

For further information contact DARD on 028 3025 3281.

Farm Families Health Checks Programme

A Farm Families Health Checks Programme is being delivered regionally across all rural livestock markets and associated community based facilities.

Health and Wellbeing

The Programme will provide health screening, advice and signposting to services for around 2,500 farmers, their families and rural dwellers during during 2015/2016..

For further information contact 028 2563 5573.

Rural Challenge Programme 2012/13

The Rural Challenge Programme 2012 is a key element of DARD's Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Framework.

The programme encourages rural community and voluntary groups to identify a local need and propose an initiative to address a poverty or social isolation issue within their rural community.

The programme last opened for applications during September to December 2012 and grant awards of up to £10,000 each have been offered to 44 applicants.  These projects delivered local actions to address rural poverty and social isolation until December 2014. 

This programmme is now closed

Further information

Rural Development Division (West)
Sperrin House
Sedan Avenue
Co Tyrone
BT79 7AQ

Telephone: 028 8225 3512

Rural Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (RYE)

DARD funds the Rural Youth Entrepreneurship (RYE) Programme for which the Rural Development Council is the lead delivery partner; Advantage Foundation Ltd from Carrickfergus is the other local delivery partner

RYE develops business potential among vulnerable young people in rural areas.  These areas have been identified using multiple deprivation criteria and eligible young people are currently being recruited onto the Programme through various outreach events and workshops.  The RYE programme creates the foundations for the development of future rural businesses through upskilling, networking, mentoring and sharing of ideas to stimulate business creation.

For further information please contact the Rural Development Council on 028 8676 6980 or DARD on 028 8225 3512 or visit the Rural Youth Entrepreneurship on the Rural Development Council website

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