For Oral Answer on : 26/09/2023
Question Number(s): 66 Question Reference(s): 41158/23
Department: Rural and Community Development
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the measures being examined by her Department to address loneliness and social isolation in rural areas and communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The core mission of my Department is to support vibrant and sustainable communities across this country, and in doing so to deliver on a wide range of strategic interventions, funding programmes and policies to support urban and rural communities.
My Department is responsible for a number of national policies containing measures to improve the lives of people throughout the country, not least Our Rural Future, which places an emphasis on building resilience and enhancing participation and inclusion in rural communities including older people and those with disabilities.
Addressing the issues of loneliness and social isolation in communities has become more important than ever before. Many of my Department’s policies and funding programmes aim to address these in communities, and also deliver benefits by responding to the challenges facing vulnerable individuals.
Funding is provided to tackle social isolation and support those in our communities in most need of assistance through schemes such as the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), the Community Services Programme, and the Seniors Alert Scheme, amongst others. SICAP is Ireland’s primary social inclusion funding intervention, delivered locally by Local Development Companies (LDCs) to help those in the greatest need access supports to enable participation in communities.
The Community Services Programme (CSP) currently supports over 420 community organisations to provide employment opportunities and local services through a social enterprise model. The CSP supports a range of services and activities that enhance the quality of life of people and those most vulnerable within our communities.
My Department is responsible for the Seniors Alert Scheme which encourages community support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable them to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. Funding is available under the Scheme towards the purchase, by a registered community-based organisation, of a personal alarm or pendant.
The issue of social isolation is one which concerns us all and I am committed to continuing my Department’s response to this issue through continued delivery of relevant programmes and policies.