Woman sat in a wheelchair, going up a ramp

Funding boost for council disabled facilities

Council facilities in Northern Ireland are benefitting from funding that will help make them more inclusive for those with disabilities.

The Access and Inclusion Programme, being backed by £714,000 of funding from the Department for Communities and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), has bene running since 2018 and is aiming to improve services at a number of venues across the country. Just over half of the funding for the 2023/24 programme, £414,000, comes from the Department for Communities, with this being supported by an additional £300,000 for projects that are specifically in rural areas being allocated by DAERA.

Since the launch of the programme, more than 260 projects have been supported, with investment amounting to more than £5 million.

Colum Boyle, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities, said:

“Working in partnership with the disability sector, DAERA, local councils and the NI Museums Council (NIMC), the Department’s capital grant programme promotes a more inclusive society by improving accessibility at arts, cultural and active recreation venues for people with disabilities.

“Over the past five years, we have made a real and positive difference to the everyday lives of people with disabilities, investing £5 million to enhance facilities at around 260 venues across Northern Ireland.”

Examples of ways that the funding can be used include sensory hubs, inclusive swim facilities, Changing Places facilities, and digital visual and audio guided tours.

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Permanent Secretary, Katrina Godfrey, said:

DAERA, through the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme, continues to work closely with other departments, agencies, and councils to address access and isolation issues in rural areas. The Access and Inclusion Programme is an excellent example of how this collaborative working is promoting a more inclusive society by improving accessibility to facilities in rural areas.”


Image credit: iStock

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