Rural Challenge Programme Open For Funding Bids

AGRICULTURE and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill is calling on community and voluntary groups in rural areas to take advantage of the funding opportunities available through the Rural Challenge Programme 2012.

The Rural Challenge Programme assists community and voluntary groups in the development of projects to address poverty and isolation in rural areas and provides funding to assist with their implementation.

Up to £10,000 per project is available for projects aimed at supporting children and young people; lone parents; the unemployed; the disabled; carers; the elderly or ethnic minorities and it is envisaged that at least 70 projects will be supported.

Support with the application process is being provided at Best Practice Workshops which are being held in venues throughout the North. Any group intending to apply to the programme must attend one of these workshops and to date 65 have availed of the support available.

Minister O’Neill said: “The Rural Challenge Programme provides rural community and voluntary groups with a terrific opportunity to address localised poverty and isolation issues which make life difficult for many rural dwellers.

“Best Practice Workshops are an essential element of the Programme and show my Department’s commitment to assisting applicants through the application process and building their capacity to identify and implement projects.

“Delivered jointly by the Rural Development Council and the Rural Community Network these workshops provide vital information on the requirements of the Programme and an opportunity for groups to enlist the help of their local Rural Support Network throughout the remainder of the process.

“I would encourage all community or voluntary groups that are considering making an application to come along to one of the remaining workshops which will take place up until the 9 November and to get their applications submitted before the deadline of 4.00pm on 14 December.”

Applications to the Rural Challenge Programme will be welcomed from voluntary and community based organisations which, at the time of application, must have a formal constitution or set of rules and a specific bank account.

Application packs can be obtained by contacting Rural Development Division, Omagh (Tel – 028 8225 3512) or emailing