Campaign launched to highlight importance of rural homes | Newry Times

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editor@newrytimes.com
Tuesday, August 17th, 2021
Community

The important role of housing in rural communities is at the centre of a new campaign by the Rural Community Network (RCN), Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) and Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA).

 

Campaign launched to highlight importance of rural homes - Newry Times - newry news latest

 

‘Reaching Rural NI’ aims to recognise the work of many organisations, including Housing Associations, in supporting rural living and helping to build strong communities.

This week the three organisations are highlighting the important role housing has in rural communities, and how good housing is a central part of the success of rural communities.

 

 

NIHE, RCN and NIFHA members all work to improve these rural commutes, through investment in new build and maintenance, community outreach and rural cohesion projects, as well as advocating for infrastructure improvements to support local people.

Reaching Rural NI is a celebration of the success of rural communities and all the component parts which make them an important feature of rural Northern Ireland.

Alongside quality housing, these communities are home to successful sports and community groups, small local businesses, high achieving schools and bustling villages.

Speaking at the launch of Reaching Rural NI, Ben Collins, Chief Executive of NIFHA, says, “Northern Ireland is characterised by its many rural villages and communities.

“And with the Reaching Rural campaign, we want to highlight and celebrate the great work that goes on in these areas, particular the role housing has in building strong, resilient communities.

 



 

“Housing Associations are at the fore of building high-quality homes in rural areas, as well as improving local areas through community projects, such as planting and resilience training.

“The COVID pandemic has shown how important space both in and out of our homes is.,

“And there is opportunity to strengthen rural communities, as more people look to improve work-life balance through things such as working from home.

“We are delighted to be part of this campaign, given the incredible work our members and so many others do to make rural communities great places to live.”

Rural Community Network is a membership-based organisation working across rural Northern Ireland to support the voices of rural communities and to address issues of poverty and disadvantage.

 

 

Kate Clifford, Director of RCN, says, “We are delighted to be a part of this positive campaign which is celebrating all that is Rural.

“For Rural communities to thrive we believe that they need a healthy mix of homes; privately owned and rented, including those for social rent.

“Social housing offers long-term stability to families on lower incomes in rural areas, where life is more expensive and work can often be insecure and seasonal.

“Above all, social homes enable people to put down roots and be part of a community.

“Work done by RCN, NIHE and NIFHA shows that there are significant waiting lists for rural social housing, and the new build target for rural social housing has been missed for six of the last seven years.

 


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“Meanwhile, private rents are so high in some rural areas they have become unaffordable for keyworkers.

“By giving people with varying jobs and backgrounds the ability to put down roots in an area, social housing can help create a community that is both varied and closely-knit.

“Building new affordable housing in an area can help young families remain local, ensuring that services like primary schools, post offices, and even pubs stay open, maintaining a strong sense of community spirit.

“This is why social housing is so important to RCN’s vision for thriving and sustainable rural communities,” Kate adds.

Professor Peter Roberts, Chair of the Housing Executive, explains why providing housing services in rural areas is so important.

“As the strategic housing authority for Northern Ireland, we want to ensure that everyone has access to a decent and affordable home, regardless of where they live.

“Since 2016 we have invested over £200 million in rural communities, where just under 18% of our housing stock is located, and supported housing associations to deliver more than 425 social homes in rural areas across Northern Ireland. 

 

 

“As ever, we are keen to innovate in order to deliver more, better quality and energy-efficient rural homes.

“This campaign is a great opportunity for us to promote how social and affordable housing can help to sustain thriving rural communities.

“Throughout the week we will be encouraging rural residents to get in touch with us to discuss their housing needs and also to share their views on our draft ‘Rural Strategy and Action Plan’, which has been launched for consultation.

“For us, to understand rural housing need it is vital that we engage with our unique and diverse rural communities and work in partnership to identify the range of solutions required.

“We want to ensure that over the next four years and beyond, we continue to provide excellent housing services for our customers, irrespective of their location, and that we maximise every opportunity to invest in the sustainable development of our rural communities,” he adds.

 

 

The Reaching Rural NI campaign can be followed on social media with #ReachingRuralNI

 


Keep up to date with all the latest Northern Ireland Coronavirus / Covid-19 news HERE.


 

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