07/09/2001

Grants programme aims to promote healthier communities

The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Bairbre de Brún, has announced a new grants programme to help and encourage community groups to tackle health issues in their communities.

The Investing for Healthier Communities Grants Programme will provide an extra £2.5 million over the next two and a half years to enable communities and interest groups, particularly those who are most disadvantaged, to identify and address local health improvement priorities.

The Minister’s announcement has been welcomed by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, (formerly NIVT) who will be administering the programme on behalf of the Ministerial Group on Public Health.

The Foundation's Director, Avila Kilmurray, welcomed what she described as a “far-sighted” project that acknowledged the range of factors which can impact on health and committed government departments to work together to improve peoples’ health.

She said: "We are is delighted that there is now to be a dedicated source of Government funding for community development and health work. This gives an important signal, validating the contribution of community development to health improvement and recognising the vital role communities can play in addressing inequalities in health.”

Ruth Sutherland the Co-ordinator of the Community Development and Health Network, which represents over 300 voluntary and community health groups, also welcomed the funding announcement.

She said: "We are is delighted that there is now to be a dedicated source of Government funding for community development and health work. This gives an important signal, validating the contribution of community development to health improvement and recognising the vital role communities can play in addressing inequalities in health.

"Equally welcome is this demonstration of Government’s willingness to recognise the expertise of the community and voluntary sector in making this scheme happen.

"It’s all a positive step in the right direction, but no one is under any illusions about the enormity of the challenge. There is a long road ahead of us all in the journey towards equal health for all.”

Investing for Health is a new strategy which aims to address health and well-being in its widest sense, to reduce inequalities, and bring health standards in the province up to those of the best regions in Europe.

Consultation on the strategy ended in May 2001 and a final document is due to be published later this year. (MB/SP)

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