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Minister visits Darkley to see how £250,000 Coronavirus Fund is helping communities

Edwin Poots with Pauline and Ian Bothwell of the Crossfire Trust
Edwin Poots with Pauline and Ian Bothwell of the Crossfire Trust

Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has visited two organisations that have received funding from his Department, to deal with issues affecting the rural community during Covid-19.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), through the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme, provided £250,000 via the Community Foundation NI and the Rural Community Network (RCN), to eligible community and voluntary organisations so that they could help address the very specific needs of those living in remote areas.

The Minister took the time to visit Annaghmore LOL in Castledawson and Crossfire Trust in Darkley to see how the Coronavirus Community Fund benefited the local communities in each area.

Speaking after his visit, the Minister said: “Organisations like Crossfire Trust and Annaghmore LOL are the heartbeat of a rural community and during times of challenge, they are a lifeline to those living in remote areas.

“Through the Community Foundation and the Rural Community Network, my Department have to date provided funding to over 80 rural organisations, so that they can help on the ground, with things like emergency food packages, oil delivery, blankets and duvets and delivery of medicines.

“The Fund is targeted at supporting isolated older people (aged over 50), as well as those people of all ages who are at increased risk in relation to poor mental health and wellbeing; and vulnerable isolated people and families, particularly those living in rural areas. I wanted to see the impacts on the ground for myself and am very impressed with their work and pleased that we’ve been able to help.”

Annaghmore LOL co-ordinated their “Supporting Our Community” project with six other lodges in the villages of Castledawson, Bellaghy and the surrounding rural areas.

They identified 160 vulnerable older members of the community and delivered food packages and bags of coal or oil drums depending on their specific requirements. The LOL also provided a collection and delivery service when called upon to do so, for items such as prescriptions.

Crossfire Trust operates on a cross-community and cross-border basis within the south Armagh area functioning from the historic base of Darkley House.

Their “We Care We Share” project developed a regular delivery of emergency food, blankets, duvets, heating oil as well as the collection and delivery of medication and health supplies to approximately 120 individuals.

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