The importance of access to meals on wheels, home help and befriending services in reducing isolation was highlighted at an information day hosted by Irish Rural Link in Dublin last week.

Jim Daly, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, acknowledged the importance of services such as meals on wheels and told the gathering that he is pushing for the extension of the initiative throughout the country.

At present approximately 130 meals on wheels groups are members of the National Meals on Wheels Network under the Irish Rural Link umbrella. There are also other groups providing meals on wheels that are not affiliated to the network.

An estimated 50 TDs and senators attended the information briefing, which allowed them to drop in and chat about the issues affecting rural Ireland. Other services such as Local Link transport, community education and initiatives for women were also discussed.

An overview of the various projects and programmes that Irish Rural Link is involved in at national and European level was given. On a national level, Irish Rural Link is the lead partner in the National Rural Network.

It also delivers the ‘Getting Citizens Online’ and ‘IT Skills for Farmers’ programmes across the country. It has been working over the past three years with Sparkasse in Germany on a local public banking model and exploring how this model of banking could work in Ireland.

Rural Enterprises

At European level, Irish Rural Link is involved with MICRO, which has developed an online educational resource for micro and craft enterprises in rural areas.

More details and to access these free online resources are available on their website at: The final MICRO meeting will take place in Moate, Co. Westmeath on October 25.

Over the last six months, Irish Rural Link has been involved in the replicable business models for modern rural economies (RUBIZMO) project. The next meeting will be held in Madrid, Spain on October 16 and 17.

Another EU initiative, in which Irish Rural Link is involved in the ‘Next Chapter’ cross-border project, aims to enhance women’s representation on both sides of the border in public and political life.

The attendance at the information day included Local Link representatives; Flexibus; Longford Women’s Link; the Africa Caribbean Diaspora; and the Community Wetlands Forum.