Initiatives to Tackle Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI)

The Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme 2011/12 - 2014/15 was designated as one of DAERA’s four PfG targets. TRPSI - A New Framework has been in place since March 2016 and a £4.0m+ budget (resource and capital) has been in place on an annual basis to continue to deliver on the strategic direction set out in the TRPSI Framework.

Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2022

This Scheme is funded under the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affair’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme. Rural business development grants of between £500 and £4,999 are available to micro enterprises based in a rural area to support them in the recovery or sustainability of their business following the COVID-19 pandemic and support existing businesses to grow and develop their business.

The Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2022 is now closed for applications.

For more information contact your Local Council contact details.

Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme

This Scheme, funded under the Department’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme, offers Micro Capital grants of between £200 and £1,500 to rural community-led, voluntary organisations for projects tackling issues of local poverty and / or social isolation and to assist the recovery and reset of rural communities following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Rural Micro Capital Grant Scheme 2022 is now closed for applications

For more information contact your Rural Support Network.

The Assisted Rural Travel Scheme (ARTS) is delivered in partnership with the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and the Rural Community Transport Partnerships across NI. The Scheme delivers passenger trips for rural dwellers entitled to a SmartPass and most in need of rural transport (mainly the elderly and disabled).

Having made necessary adaptations to their vehicle fleet, the RCTPs have recommenced passenger trips. Further detail of your local RCTP is available at Rural Community Transport Partnerships | NI Direct.

DAERA jointly funds the Regional Infrastructure Support Programme (RISP) [administered by the Department for Communities] to ensure that the rural element of the Voluntary and Community sector has access to the support it needs in order to function effectively. As part of the consortia delivering RISP, both the Rural Community Network (RCN) and Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network (NIRWN) receive funding towards the rural element of RISP.

The Farm Families Health Checks Programme (FFHCP) in partnership with the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust provides access to nurse led Health Checks specifically designed for farmers and other rural community dwellers that historically have been reluctant to attend their GP for a range of reasons. Farm Family Health Checks, which are delivered at Marts and Community events across NI, are undertaken by fully trained nursing staff.

Further details can be obtained by contacting Christina Faulkner at

Forest Park Enhancement and Community Trail Development Scheme

Over the past 5 years DAERA has committed £7m from its Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme to 19 Forest Park Enhancement Schemes. This significant financial commitment has levered in a further £4.4m through partnerships formed with Councils and other grant aiding bodies. These projects contribute to the health and well-being of the residents of the surrounding areas to the Forests/Trails by developing safe, way marked, off-road cycling/walking trails that will accommodate a wide range of users and helping locals and visitors alike to stay healthy and happy, both physically and mentally. For 22/23, 8 project Letters of Offer have been issued to Councils offering £910k. 

Further details can be obtained by contacting Ciaran McLaughlin at

SPRING Social Prescribing

This project is delivered with the support of the Department of Health, the Health and Social Care Board and in partnership with the rural Healthy Living Centres. It aims to link medical care to non-clinical locally delivered support services by enabling medical professionals to refer rural patients to a range of activities and services to support greater independence, reduce reliance on primary healthcare, tackle poverty and isolation issues and deliver better outcomes for rural people and society. Post lockdown, SPRING staff have recommenced their work and clients are again being referred to Social Prescribers.

Further details can be obtained by contacting Martin Duffy at

Marginalised Minority Communities Support

This project provides financial assistance for groups supporting Marginalised Minority Communities (MMC) in the rural border areas of Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon, Derry and Strabane, Mid-Ulster, Fermanagh Omagh and Newry, Mourne and Down, initially as an add on to the current Rural Community Development Support Service Programme (RCDSSP) for the period October 20-October 2021, and, subsequently an integral part of the new programme – October 2021-October 2024.

Village Catalyst Programme

Applications are invited from charities, social enterprise and other not-for-profit groups in rural villages of less than 5,000 people who want to tackle rural poverty and social isolation in their area by developing a sustainable use for a disused historic building in their village.

The programme builds on a 3-year pilot, which resulted in 4 projects being developed, highlighted in a short film accessed via this link:

To be eligible, the building must be listed or within a conservation area. The 3 available funding routes and details on how to apply are listed below: 

  1. Project Viability Grant – To carry out viability work, with support offered up to £10,000. Please complete the enquiry form via the following link: prior to making an application. This is a rolling scheme. For more information on what this grant can fund, see: 
  2. Project Development Grant – To further develop your plans with support offered up to £20,000. For enquiries and applications for this scheme, please contact Please note, this scheme will close once our available budget has been expended. Therefore, early application is recommended. 
  3. Delivery Grant – To deliver your project, with capital funding offered up to £200,000. For enquiries and applications for this scheme, please contact Please note, this scheme will close once our available budget has been expended. Therefore, early application is recommended. 

Your School, Your Club

This partnership initiative in conjunction with the Department of Education, Education Authority, Department for Communities, local Councils and Sport NI will contribute to addressing the unmet demand for sporting and recreational facilities across Northern Ireland by opening up educational sites for local community usage outside of normal school hours. The initiative addresses an identified need for a facility identified on the local area plan/community plan to enhance the existing provision and increase participation in sport and physical activity.

Further details can be obtained by emailing

    Rural Support

    This registered charity organisation 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 problems, inheritance issues / succession planning, disease outbreak, and the burden imposed by farm paperwork and related matters. Rural Support also focus on issues such as stress and emotional distress and physical and mental health related matters.

    Telephone: 028 8676 0040,
    Helpline number: 0800 138 1678
    Rural Support website

    Social Farming Support Service

    This support service provided by Rural Support staff operates as a hub for Social Farming which provides disadvantaged groups of people in NI with an opportunity for inclusion, to increase their self-esteem and to improve their health and well-being. Social Farming is an innovative use of agriculture to promote therapy, rehabilitation, social inclusion, education and social services in rural areas. It also has wide-ranging and far-reaching benefits that are primarily experienced by the participant and the farmer, but which also positively impacts rural communities.

    So Keep Farming

    In partnership with the Department for Economy (DfE) and Rural Area Partnership in Derry (RAPID), this European Social Fund project gives more people with a disability the opportunity to engage and contribute by choice in farming, training and social activities.

    Step Up to Sustainable Employment (SUSE+)

    Councils in the South West that promotes employment in the Council areas of Fermanagh and Omagh and Mid-Ulster by engaging with unemployed, economically inactive and socio-economically deprived individuals. South West College deliver the SUSE+ initiative:

    Prosper Employability Project

    The Prosper Project has two strands. Strand 1 provides Mentoring support to 100 young people engaged in the Southern Regional College’s Schools’ Partnership Programme. Strand 2 provides specific vocational training leading to qualifications identified by local employers. Southern Regional College has extensive links with local employers and provides a comprehensive range of supports to SMEs. These relationships were extended to ensure local businesses have access to a well-trained and qualified workforce that provide the opportunity to survive and thrive economically. Training is available across a range of occupational areas e.g. CAT C lorry driving, forklift driving, Emergency First Aid at Work, Customer Services, AI training, HEIGHTs and SIA door security & CCTV training.

    Libraries NI Out of Hours

    In partnership with the Department for Communities (DfC) the Libraries ‘Out of Hours Service’ has provided extended access to library facilities in 7 rural areas. Using a unique identifier PIN code, users can avail of a range of services including access to the public computer network and Wi-Fi, borrow books, access study facilities and, where available, make use of meeting room facilities. This ‘Out of Hours Service’ is now available in Lisnaskea, Dungiven, Maghera, Whitehead, Saintfield, Omagh and Irvinestown libraries.

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