A community group has been awarded a £50,000 grant to help breathe life into the rural community.
Loughshore Access and Community Enterprise (LACE) has been offered the grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Village SOS scheme which is supporting rural communities across the UK to come together to improve facilities, services and opportunities for local people.
The programme, which is now closed for applications, supports rural communities with less than 3,000 people to develop plans for enterprising projects from community-run shops and pubs to energy or transport schemes, and craft or food projects. For more information visit: www.villagesos.org.uk
LACE plans to use its grant of to set up a community handyman business offering a range of services to isolated people living in the South Lough Neagh area which includes hamlets like Derryinver, Derrytrasna, Derryadd, Kinnego and Aghagallon.
The group will employ local people, including those are long term unemployed, to go out to people’s homes in the area and carry out small tasks such as gardening, minor house repairs and decorating.
As well as creating employment, the business will give the older people the chance to chat and raise any worries or concerns they have. The fee the older people pay for the services will go back into training more people and running the service.
“This is a deprived area where there are older people with disabilities and those with mental ill health who live alone and are quite isolated. They often don’t get to see anyone from one week to the next and they can get quite lonely,” said chairman Alan Emerson.
“Life can get on top of them a bit and the everyday tasks you and I take for granted can really prove difficult and stressful.
“The handyman scheme will help people with small jobs by offering reasonably priced skilled work. We hope to create training in handyman skills that leads on to employment for local people who may have been long term unemployed. The handyman will help with jobs that are relatively small where there’s no need to pay the costs for a tradesman.
“Some of these people live off the beaten track and a lot of them are elderly. The handyman will be a local person who knows the area and has a friendly personality. The whole idea of this is that it is a community enterprise. We hope that it will lead to volunteers offering to go and sit with someone for a little while just to give them a bit of company.
“There are also a lot of people with disabilities or mental health problems who are in dire need of some kind of practical handyman scheme. The handyman can also report back on certain situations out there where we may need to offer more help.”