THE Maximising Access in Rural Areas project, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of rural dwellers in Northern Ireland by increasing access to services, grants and benefits, is underway and gathering momentum in the local area.
Causeway Rural and Urban Network (CRUN) has been commissioned to roll out the project in the Ballymoney and Coleraine areas, ensuring that rural dwellers are both aware of and are availing of any grants and benefits they are entitled to.
The project will help explore the householders eligibility for such schemes as ‘Warm Homes’ (energy saving), Community Transport and Translink’s SmartPass, amongst others.
The project will also help put householders in touch with local and regional services available to them such as local community groups, social clubs and training centres.
The project is a £3m joint initiative between the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Public Health Agency (PHA).
Paul Sampson, Project Officer explains, “Initially a large part of our work will be ensuring that we can identify households to visit.
“In order to do this I will be liaising with a number of key stakeholders including the local councillors, churches, community groups, charities and appropriate government agencies. However, I would encourage anyone who feels they may benefit from the project to get in contact with us. This is a completely free service and all information will remain confidential”
The Mayor of Coleraine, councillor Sam Cole adds, “In rural areas the hidden nature of poverty and isolation can make it difficult to connect the most vulnerable with benefit entitlements and services. Often this results in people missing out or going without.
“I was very interested to learn that when the first phase of MARA was undertaken in 2010, in some cases, householders who took part received an extra £60 a week as a result of the benefit entitlement check.
“I would like to encourage people throughout the borough to avail of this very beneficial service and take the opportunity to learn about the different schemes and services available to them.”
In order to be eligible to take part in the project you need to live in one of the following rural areas: Garvagh, Kilrea, Ballerin, Ringsend, Dundooan, Agivey, Bendooragh, Aghadowey, Macosquin, Articlave, Castlerock, Portballintrae, Dunluce, Benvardin, Killoquin, Ballyhoe/Corkey, Loughgiel, Stranocum, Knockaholet, Dunloy, Seacon, Dervock, The Vow, and Cloughmills.
If you feel that you could benefit from a home visit or would like any further information please contact Paul or Lorna on (028) 7034 4934 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com