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The Fermanagh Trust was one of the key note speakers at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s recent Conference on poverty. The Trust presented interim findings of research it has carried out on poverty and solutions locally.
Community leaders, practitioners, professionals, educators, advocates and political representatives came together to focus on nurturing rich social capital in the Fermanagh and Omagh District and encouraging collaborative practice. The conference also examined regional approaches that impact poverty whilst assessing local issues and experiences.
Poverty is a complex and multi-layered issue. Over a fifth of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s (FODC Community Plan, 2030) population are living in Absolute Poverty. According to the Trussell Trust, Fermanagh is seeing a 159% increase in the use of food banks year on year. The cost of living is increasing while the wages are not. As well as this, the change in the benefits system has had a negative effect on people in receipt of them. Poverty has an impact on all aspects of a person’s life, including their physical and mental wellbeing, their relationships, and their future opportunities. Therefore, it is important that we address these issues locally.
Recognising that poverty is a deep-rooted issue in rural communities, the Fermanagh Trust has set out to explore the issue conducting a wide of interviews with organisations and individuals in the district impactedby poverty. The interviews were used to gain the insights of those who experience poverty first hand, to identify the main issues and ask their opinions on what they think can be done to help the issue. The report, which will be released in late Spring, puts forward recommendations based on ideas and good practice from other countries and communities on what can be done to help those affected by poverty in the Fermanagh area.
Speaking at the conference, the Fermanagh Trust’s Director Lauri McCusker emphasised the need to focus on sources of poverty & address the root causes. “Locally businesses, the public sector and civic society organisations must join the dots and work collaboratively to build an inclusive successful local economy. Our research has identified how legislation, policies & resources along with some smart thinking is needed over the next five to ten years. We can do much better.”
Lauri added “Congratulations to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council for putting together this conference, the first of its kind in our district. It is timely and ambitious to put such focus on this important issue and the Council is to be commended for this event which creates a space for informed, honest discussion aimed at informing local action.”
Information and ideas gathered from the conference will help to inform the development of a 10-point plan which will outline how collectively, the statutory, community and voluntary sectors can work together to help bring about real and positive change to those living on the poverty line in Fermanagh and Omagh.