£3m in match funds to North West groups

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A number of Londonderry-based voluntary and community groups are to share in £3m funding released by the Department of Employment and Learning.

The Department has released match funding in line with European Social Fund grants awarded to projects which aid the unemployed and economically inactive.

Londonderry groups set to benefit include Extern Group, Customised Training Services, People First, The Cedar Foundation, Now and Stepping Stones NI, Action Deaf Youth, Action Mental Health, Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID), RNIB, Mencap, Disability Action, Derry Youth & Community Workshop, Resource Centre. The funding will support more than 10,000 Northern Irish young people not in education, employment or training; 7,266 people with disabilities; 24,742 people who are unemployed or economically inactive; and 2,340 families with a high level of need to develop their capacity to reach their full potential in terms of education, training, health, social and economic issues.

Gerard Diver Foyle MLA, and SDLP spokesperson on employment and learning matters stated: “I would call on the Department to ensure these monies reach those organisations as soon as possible. Earlier this year my party colleague Pat Ramsey represented a large number of community groups who were being put to the wall due to the department failing to release awards they were due.

“This led to issues with the retention of staff, clients, falling morale levels, deadlines, issues with creditors and a knock on effect, through no fault of their own, on delivery targets and dates. It is a very challenging operating environment for community groups.

“This is also true of those groups who will receive matching monies from the Department. Therefore I have urged the Department to ensure that these funds reach the community sector as soon as possible.”

“I only hope this brings to a conclusion the rigmarole that has been the European Social Fund.”