Welcoming the official launch of the LEADER programme by Minister Heather Humphries today, Community Work Ireland called on the Minister and her department to ensure that LEADER support is used to address the very real issues of rural poverty, inequality, social exclusion and isolation.
Speaking at the launch, CWI spokesperson, Sinéad Smith stated, ‘Isolation has always been a very serious issue in rural areas. We also know from many of our members that live and work with communities in rural areas that poverty, social exclusion and inequality have deepened since the recession. These are very serious issues.’ Ms Smith continued, ‘The new LEADER programme provides for a welcome focus on social inclusion. Marginalised communities or ‘hard to reach’ communities, including Travellers, Roma, migrants, women, people with disabilities, are a priority along with rural young people. The new LEADER programme recognises that basic supports and services are required to address the inequalities they experience.’
Calling on Minister Humphries department to ensure that these issues are priorities, Ann Irwin, CWI National Co-ordinator said, ‘What we need now are performance based indicators that clearly show that the Local Action Groups are using the LEADER strategies to make a difference for all people in rural areas’.