DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced a new funding programme specifically designed to improve the lives of those living in rural communities.
The Rural Micro Capital Grant Programme will be delivered by local Rural Support Networks on behalf of DARD.
The programme will be open for applications from Monday 13 April 2015 until noon on Friday 22 May 2015.
Grants of between £200 and £1,500 are available to constituted rural community organisations for equipment and minor capital works.
The minister said: “I am very aware that the health and wellbeing of those living in rural areas is linked to the support network of family and friends around them. This is the very heart of a community network, people talking, socialising and having a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, I am also aware that more could be done to support rural community groups to help them create the right conditions for their communities to thrive and prosper.
“I am therefore pleased to announce my department’s new Rural Micro Capital Grant Programme, with £200,000 available initially, that will provide funding towards the purchase of vital pieces of equipment and improvements to community facilities. By targeting rural community groups, this programme can directly contribute to reducing isolation and poverty in rural areas while at the same time strengthening community links and promoting health and wellbeing.”
The minister added: “The Rural Micro Capital Grant Programme is another example of how my department is actively tackling rural poverty and social isolation. It also demonstrates how government and the community and voluntary sector can work together to improve the lives of those living in rural areas. This programme is a real opportunity for community groups to build on their existing roles and to empower local people to make their lives, and the lives of their family, friends and neighbours, better.
“I encourage rural community groups to contact their local Rural Support Network or visit the DARD website for more information on the Programme and advice on how to apply.”