14th September 2015

Village SOS – Are you missing out on valuable support?

Village SOS is an exciting new opportunity for rural based organisations to get practical support to develop a new project or add value to an existing project.  It is about rural communities being enterprising in their approach to developing a solution to a local issue.  The project may have a particular social economy focus but it simply can be about trying to develop a more sustainable service to meet local need.

Whilst the resources are relatively small this is a fantastic opportunity to at least bring a project from an idea to a plan.  It can provide flexible support to help organisations be ‘investment ready’ so that they may be in a stronger position to apply to upcoming funding opportunities.

Rural Community Network (RCN) will coordinate all Village SOS activity in Northern Ireland and welcomes the opportunity to support your organisation in some way through this campaign.

It does not involve an application process as such, rather a simple conversation to assess eligibility.  Please find key contact details below to start the process.

There are no imminent deadlines for starting or completing your projects and the administration requirements are very favourable for communities.  Village SOS is funded until August 2016.

Examples of projects supported

This programme is very flexible and will be tailored appropriately to the needs of each community.  However it is useful to share some of the experiences to date so we have summarised some of the support provided to date:

  • Bann Valley Community Group has been supported with costs towards the development of a video consultation with key stakeholders about a new proposed indoor sports complex and towards support for external consultancy for community consultation exercise
  • Dromboughil Community Association develop crafts and sell in stores and at craft fairs.  They were given practical financial assistance in developing a new ecommerce website for selling their products online
  • An Carn Ltd has been supported to develop a new bespoke range of Irish Pottery for sale in their craft shop and online
  • Maghera Cross Community Link has been supported to pilot a summer scheme which was to ascertain demand in the area for a new after schools club which is being considered
  • TIDAL (Toome) has been supported in bringing in some expert support to undertake a community consultation exercise and develop a new capital funding application.

Other organisations are at earlier stages but are getting support to:

  • Engage an architect and a quantity surveyor to do some assessment of the potential improvements to be made to a local community building
  • Develop links with community based organisations across the UK that have developed health and social care hubs
  • Bringing in accountancy expertise to help develop financial forecasts/cash flow projections for a new social enterprise idea

Through all of these and other projects we have also been trying to encourage groups to develop contacts and links with other organisations in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland & Wales.  Cross border cooperation with the Republic of Ireland is also a possibility.

We are also using a pool of skilled and experienced mentors to provide support to projects where there is an appropriate fit.

Further Information on VSOS

If you want to find out further information on Village SOS or indeed sign up as a member please click on the following link:

Contact details

To find out any further information about Village SOS please contact Fergal O’Donnell on 028 8676 6670, 07725 030295 or email [email protected].


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