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Rural Support Mentoring Programme

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Fra McCann Fra McCann Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 25th October 2016

T3. Mr F McCann asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to confirm that she is aware of the details of the Rural Support mentoring programme. (AQT 398/16-21)

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for his question. It is probably not unconnected to the question that his party colleague asked previously. I am very aware of the value that Rural Support gives to rural communities. It is a listening and signposting service for farmers and rural families, and the mentoring programme, which is an on-farm mentoring programme, has been very successful, particularly when financial problems occur. It is important to encourage people to use that service. I am very supportive of the work that it is doing.

Photo of Fra McCann Fra McCann Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for her answer thus far. Will she confirm whether she is moving to secure funding to assist Rural Support to increase its capacity to give support, particularly in light of the EU referendum result and welfare reform?

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for his question. He will be aware that Rural Support receives funding from a number of different agencies. My Department supports it with around £91,000 annually through our tackling rural poverty and social isolation (TRPSI) programme. I know that my officials have ongoing conversations with Rural Support about its funding. As I said, we are supportive of the work that it does, particularly with farming families and rural families, and we have been encouraging it to continue with that work. We will be working alongside Rural Support in order to ensure the delivery of that work.