‘It’s crucial to share success stories’: Call for entries

It’s crucial that we share and learn from our success stories at a time when rural communities are facing tremendous challenges, said Seamus Boland, National Rural Network (NRN) director, as he made a call for entries as part of a national campaign to celebrate the success of the LEADER programme.

Since its inception in 1991, the EU programme has provided grants to rural Ireland to direct economic and social development through community-led local initiatives.

Funded through Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020, the current LEADER programme budget provides €250 million in financial grant aid which is 7% of the overall RDP.

As of the end of August, 2020, 3,445 projects have been approved in the LEADER programme 2014-2020.

Communicate the impact

The NRN is now making a call to participants in the current LEADER programme to share their success stories by creating their own short videos.

The video should communicate the impact of LEADER funding on your project whether that be by a rural enterprise, community organisation, community or indeed local environmental group, said Dr. Maura Farrell, lead research with the NRN and NUI Galway.

Three winners will be chosen based on the themes in the current LEADER programme: economic development, enterprise development and job creation; social inclusion; and rural environment.

The winning entries will be showcased nationally by the NRN and in Europe, by the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD). The winners will receive One for All gift vouchers to the value of €200 each.

Tremendous challenges

“Rural communities are facing tremendous challenges, including economic decline; depopulation; access to broadband and transport; a decline in biodiversity; and the impact of climate change,” said Seamus Boland.

“It’s crucial that we share and learn from our success stories. We have a lot to be proud of, and I strongly encourage participating businesses and organisations to take up this opportunity to promote their work,” he said, as he made the call for entries.

Dr. Farrell said that the LEADER programme has afforded thousands of rural communities, entrepreneurs, farmers and environmentalists an opportunity to realise a community development or business opportunity which has impacted positively on rural life, society and the economy.

“The LEADER programme is centred around a bottom-up approach to rural development, meaning it helps realise the visions and dreams of rural people,” she said.

It is a long-standing programme which provides funds for the betterment of rural communities and for the potential start-up or advancement of farm diversification ideas or rural small to medium businesses.

Entries will close on October 2 at 5:00pm. From October 12 to November 6, members of the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favourite entries.