The recent budget announcement that the number of places on the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is increasing is good news for both farmers that will qualify for the scheme and rural communities that can avail of a worker. As a result of this announcement Westmeath Community Development (WCD) are looking for workers to participate on the scheme. WCD’s Rural Social Scheme is celebrating its twelfth year helping communities throughout the county. In operation since 2004, the scheme employs 33 people in 20 areas, providing over 650 hours of work weekly to help enhance rural communities and is now an established and essential resource for community groups in the county. The Rural Social Scheme was set up by the Department of Social Protection, with the aim of providing income support for farmers who are in receipt of long-term social welfare payments, who in turn carry out services that benefit rural communities. In Co Westmeath, the Rural Social Scheme is one of a number of schemes administered by Westmeath Community Development.
WCD are currently looking for farmers or their spouses who wish to participate on the scheme to contact them at the number listed below to discuss the benefits of participating on the scheme. The scheme offers farmers a chance to increase their income as well as an opportunity to get excellent work experience. Minimum rate on the Rural Social Scheme is €208/week.
The type of work carried out by RSS participants includes;
- Maintaining and enhancing walking routes and bog roads.
- Village and countryside enhancement projects as part of the Tidy Towns.
- Energy conservation work for older people and those at risk of poverty.
- Social care and care of older people, including Community Childcare facilities.
- Environmental maintenance work - maintenance and care-taking of community and sporting facilities such as Streete Parish Park, Castledaly Community Centre, Moate GAA club and Athlone GAA club.
- Projects relating to not-for-profit cultural and heritage centres.
According to the coordinator of the scheme, Tony McCormack “the Rural Social Scheme has grown and developed over the years in Westmeath, and is meeting two key needs in rural communities, an outlet and opportunity for farmers and farm families and an essential resource and support in rural areas to maintain and enhance services in local communities”.