A new Active Travel programme entitled Leading the Way has just been launched for employees who work in Newry and Downpatrick. It aims to encourage more people to commute to work by walking, cycling and staying active if working from home.
Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, will work with a number of workplaces to help them embed active and sustainable travel into their organisation, by supporting employees to commute more actively or become more physically active at home. Leading the Way is delivered by Sustrans on behalf of the Public Health Agency and funded through the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalisation fund from the Department for Infrastructure, Department for Communities and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in partnership with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.
As Northern Ireland begins to ease restrictions and learns to live with impact of COVID-19, many employers are considering how they can support their staff to return to the workplace safely. Staff from workplaces including Daisyhill and Downe Hospital, South Regional College, NI Fire and Rescue Service and the Council can take part in in a wide range of free activities. These include online training sessions for beginner and returning cyclists such as Bike Ready webinars, and when regulations allow cycle training, led rides and walks and e-bike try outs.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin said, “We are delighted to deliver this exciting Active Travel programme in partnership with the Public Health Agency and Sustrans and working with the local organisations involved. Our employees have a desire to return to a new and improved ‘normal’ following the COVID-19 lockdowns and the Leading the Way programme will help us all be more active, which can only be a positive outcome for both health and the environment.”
Significant Step Forward
Sustrans Director, Caroline Bloomfield said, “It is a significant step forward for workplaces in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area to invest not only in their employees’ health and wellbeing but also to address issues such as sustainability and air pollution. These workplaces are indeed leading the way and we hope other organisations will follow suit.
We have been working with the Council and recently undertook an online public consultation on how active travel could be improved in the district. We had an overwhelming response which shows there is a thirst for change and look forward to working with the Council and its residents in a greener recovery post pandemic.”
Research shows that commuting more actively can benefit both physical and mental health, in turn resulting in happier and more productive staff. The Leading the Way programme has been delivered successfully in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry since 2014. Employers have found that workforce active travel has increased by 5.1%, cycling has risen nearly 5%, car use reduced by over 10% and physical activity recorded in a 2018 study showing a 9.1% increase in respondents taking at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
For further information about the Leading the Way programme please visit here.
Ballyvea Football Club to Kick-off New Season with £360K Community Hub
Ballyvea Football Club in Kilkeel, Co.Down will be kicking off the new football season with a state of the art modern community hub following a grant of £270,000 from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Rural Development Programme (RDP).
The official opening of the new community hub took place on Friday 23 July 2021, with Minister Poots visiting this week to see the facility and all it has to offer the local community. The hub will allow for the delivery of social and economic development activities aimed at addressing underachievement and social isolation, and marginalisation amongst young people and the elderly.
Welcoming the funding award and completion of the new building, Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots said: “I am delighted that Ballyvea Football Club were awarded £270,000 under the current Rural Development Programme to build a facility that will provide services and activities for the local rural community in Kilkeel.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers connected to the club, and all members of the Local Action Group, for the time they have given up to make great projects like this come alive, and I wish Ballyvea every success both on and off the field.”
Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said: “As Chair of the Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership, I am delighted to see the completion of this impressive facility which has availed of Rural Development funding, provided by DAERA and the European Union. The volunteers involved in the Local Action Group continue to work tirelessly to ensure local decisions made by local representatives, bring high quality projects such as this to fruition.”
Trevor McConnell, Chairman of Ballyvea FC commented: “The financial support provided by DAERA, the European Union and the local council through the assistance of the Local Action Group has been instrumental in providing a high quality community hub that will provide a range of services to the local community. We are delighted to have worked closely with Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership to develop the project to provide such a vital facility for all rural dwellers and extend our gratitude to all they have done to assist us through the process.”
Councillor Cathy Mason, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council reflected on the project stating: “This is a fantastic example of how working in partnership can deliver a facility which is a real asset for the local area and will continue to be for many years to come. I would like to commend the Local Action Group and wish Ballyvea FC all the very best in their future endeavours.”
Training Opportunities for Rural Residents
Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA, today delivered an economic boost for rural residents in the Newry, Mourne & Down and Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Council areas when he launched the £65,000 Prosper + Project.
The Project, which has been developed in conjunction with the Southern Regional College (SRC), operates on the basis on two Strands. Strand one offers mentoring support and Strand two provides accredited training for economically inactive and low paid workers living within rural areas. DAERA has provided funding of £65,000 for the project, from the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme, while SRC meets the administration costs.
Minister Poots said: “Training opportunities are particularly hard to find in rural areas and the problem has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19. To this end Prosper is a big success story, delivering mentoring opportunities for 100 young people from rural post primary schools in Banbridge, Crossmaglen, Newtownhamilton and Tandragee areas engaged in the SRC Schools’ Partnership Programme and accredited training for a further 70 unemployed and low paid workers across the region.
“This project is an excellent example of DAERA working with other public sector bodies to deliver benefits for rural communities.”
Economy Minister Paul Frew added his support for the initiative. He said: “My Department is currently undertaking a consultation on a new Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland, ‘Skills for a 10x Economy’. One of the Strategy’s key objectives is to help those furthest from the workplace to re-engage with the labour market and so I very much welcome DAERA’s Prospect + Project, which provides opportunities to help people improve their skills and increase their employability.”