Rural Social Scheme

The Rural Social Scheme in County Kildare currently employs 22 participants and 1 Supervisor and operates under the support of County Kildare LEADER Partnership. Potential participants were identified through local agencies, direct media marketing, talks at different events, farmers meetings and through community groups in the County. The majority of participants on the RSS scheme in Kildare are involved in environmental maintenance with sports clubs and local community groups. The RSS in Kildare has been operational in the County since April 2005 and given the declining income in agricultural in recent years, farmers participating on the scheme can increase their income on an annual basis. Participants on the scheme work 19.5 Hours per week and the scheme is administered in a farmer friendly manner. Health and Safety training and Manual Handling training has also been carried out with each participants and Supervisor.

Objective of the Scheme:

The main aims and objectives of the scheme as outlined by Minister Eamon O’Cuiv are to provide income support for farmers who are in receipt of long term social welfare payments and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities.

The scheme is employing local farmers their spouses or children in areas that are geographically suited to the farmer, and which stretch from South Kildare to North West Kildare.

Community Groups Benefiting from RSS workers:

Communities all over County Kildare are benefiting from the skills and talents of local farmers (or their spouses) under this scheme. Any community group can apply to County Kildare LEADER Partnership for a participant and submit a detailed work schedule. Once a suitable participant has been identified they are allocated to the community group, the work plan is agreed and work can commence on the project. Contracts are agreed and signed with each community group on a yearly basis and expressions of interests from community groups are accepted throughout the year.

Project Work Categories:

The work undertaken by participants on the scheme falls into the following categories (below):

➤ Projects relating to maintenance and enhancement of way-marked ways, agreed walks, bog roads etc.
➤ Energy conservation work for the elderly and less well off.
➤ Village and countryside enhancement projects
➤ Social care and care of the elderly, community after school support groups and community pre-schooling support groups
➤ Environmental maintenance work- maintenance and caretaking of community and sporting facilities
➤ Projects relating to not for profit cultural and heritage centres
➤ Community Administration and Clerical Duties
➤ Any other appropriate community-based projects that may be included during the course of the scheme.

The scheme has been operational in Kildare since 2005, and in the Budget held in October 2016 an additional 500 places were announced by the Minster for Social Protection Leo Vardarkar. Of the 500 places announced nationally, Kildare has been allocated 3 of these positions. These positions will be filled over the coming months.

The Following is a list of Community Groups Benefiting from RSS Participants in Kildare:

1 St. Vincent De Paul Shop Monasterevin
2 Kilpatrick Burial Ground Carbury Co. Kildare
3 Ardkill Cemetery Carbury Co. Kildare
4 Curragh Pride Family Resource Centre, Curragh Co. Kildare
5 Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park, Lullymore
Co. Kildare
6 Rathangan Community Centre, Rathangan Co. Kildare
7 National Council for the Blind, Retail Park, Newbridge Co. Kildare
8 Camphill Community Dunshane, Co. Kildare
9 Muiriosa Foundation – Moore Abbey Monasterevin, Co. Kildare
10 Cloghrinkoe GFC, Carbury Co. Kildare
11 Johnstownbridge GFC, Johnstownbridge, Co. Kildare
12 Castlemitchell Community Centre, Castlemitchell, Co. Kildare
13 Narraghmore/ Timolin Parish
14 North Barrow Branch Inland Waterways Association, Athy Co. Kildare
15 Kildare Steiner School, Gormanstown, Dunlavin, Co. Kildare
16 Irish Wheelchair Association Athy Co. Kildare
17 Barnhill Development Association Nurney Co. Kildare
18 Lackagh Graveyard, Lackaghmore Co. Kildare
19 Derrinturn Tidy Towns, Carbury Co. Kildare
20 The Range Residents Association, Donadea, Co. Kildare
21 Mill Celtic FC, Ballitore, Co. Kildare
22 BREDA Centre, Johnstownbridge, Co. Kildare
23 St. Elvins Cemetery & Graveyard Committee, Monasterevin Co. Kildare


The scheme has been operational in Kildare since 2005, and in the Budget held in October 2016 an additional 500 places were announced by the Minster for Social Protection Leo Vardarkar.

Of the 500 places announced nationally, Kildare has been allocated 3 of these positions. These positions will be filled over the coming months.

The following is a report from a number of the Community Groups who have benefited from the Rural Social Scheme over the Years.

Background to the Centre

In 1997, an informal inter-agency was created to look at the community needs in the Curragh. Group members came from Action South Kildare, the Eastern Health Board, Curragh Post Primary School, Kildare Youth Services and the Defence Forces, among others. In consultation with the community, this group developed a number of exciting initiatives in the late 90s including community development training, youth leadership training, junior leadership training and the Parent in Education programme.

This led to the establishment of FOCAS (Family Oriented Community Activity Scheme), which in December 2000 merged with the existing Curragh Community Council, the inter-agency group and a number of other local voluntary community groups to form the Curragh Community Network. The Community Network supported a range of further positive developments in the Curragh such as the FRET work after-school project, the establishment of the Curragh Youth Project, the Curragh Year of Health, the photographic exhibition and community needs survey.

The Curragh Strategy group was formed in 2004 to progress this work. The focus of this group was to support the community to develop and document a plan to sustain a viable community and quality of life for families living in the Curragh. The outcome was the creation of the Curragh P.R.I.D.E. group and the publication of a community report and Work Plan (2006-2008), which was the Family Support Agency and was approved for inclusion in the national Family Resource Centre Programme. This approval and the related funding was the culmination of the committed efforts of the community in the Curragh over several years and ensured that the vision of the Curragh P.R.I.D.E. Family Resource Centre became a reality.

We are now a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. We operate under the National Family Resource Centre Programme and receive our core funding through TUSLA – Child and Family Agency. Our centre works in an inclusive way with the local community are has developed programmes, groups and activities to meet the needs of the local community.

Our programmes were planned to support and enhance families living in the local community.

The work within our centre can be dived into three areas family support, community development and training and development


➤ Parent & Toddler Group
➤ Homework Club
➤ Preparing for Life – Home Visiting Programme
➤ Counselling Service
➤ Play Therapy
➤ Family Therapy
➤ Providing a space for the Public Health Nursing

➤ Drop in information and advice
➤ Assistance with form filling
➤ CV preparation and support

➤ Men’s Group
➤ Older Women’s Group
➤ Gardening Group

➤ IT Skills Training
➤ Driver Theory Test Online Revision Access
➤ Healthy Food Made Easy
➤ Smoking Cessation

We have worked with Rural Social Scheme for a number of years. We are delighted to be part of the scheme as it offers sustainable long-term employment to a local farming community member.

The scheme has offered the centre, very valuable staffing support which has a direct benefit on the work we deliver in our centre to the community. Our rural social scheme worker is a strong member of our staff team and provides excellent interaction with all our project users. We are very happy with the support we receive from RSS Coordinator, who is always very supportive and helpful when dealing with any RSS matters.

We are very happy with the support we receive from the RSS Coordinator, who is always very supportive and helpful with dealing with any RSS matters – Angela Morrissey Kenny Manager Curragh Pride FRC.

The BREDA Resource Centre in Johnstownbridge is the administrative office of Balyna Rural Enterprise and Development Association Ltd. The mission of the organisation is to identify, on behalf of the community the social, economic, educational and cultural needs of Balyna and to initiate the processes of the change required to meet those needs. To do this we work with all relevant individual groups and agencies towards the realisation of these needs.

In the BREDA Centre, we operate a C.E. Scheme with 43 participants. We also have two participants, Helen Murphy and Irene Farrell, from the Rural Social Scheme who work with us in the area of Senior Care and social isolation. One of their responsibilities with us is to ensure that applications for the Senior Alert Scheme (SAS) for local applicants are submitted in a timely manner to An Pobal. Older people in the wider area of Balyna, Kilcock, Carbury, Moyvalley contact either Helen or Irene and arrange to come in to fill out the application here in the Centre, or the ladies will travel to the home of the older person and get the application filled out there. They then submit the application for approval and as soon as the application is approved by An Pobal, they forward all details of the applicant to the relevant monitoring company (TASK Ltd) for installation of equipment. The reassurance and peace of mind that these ladies provide to older vulnerable people in providing this service cannot be measured.

Helen and Irene work 19.5 hours with us in the Centre each week and a large proportion of their time is spent visiting older people who have been identified as being isolated in the locality. They also spend time each month visiting nursing homes in the surrounding towns. Their visits are much anticipated by the people they visit as they bring all the local news and provide an hour of entertainment and companionship. A lot of the work they do may go unnoticed by the general public, but not by those they visit and their families. The work they do is an integral part of the mission of BREDA and is invaluable to our local community.

In November Helen and Irene, in conjunction with myself, organised a meeting of men interested in forming a Men’s Shed in our local area. We realise that isolation is not confined to the elderly, or those living alone, but is also felt by people who do not have social circles in which to mix.

We liaised with the National Men’s Shed Organisation to get this project up and running and we now have a working Men’s Shed group in Johnstownbridge who will open their shed on February 1st. This is another success story facilitated by BREDA with the help of these two ladies.

At Christmas last year, we had the idea that we would send a Christmas card to all local older people from the BREDA Centre. Helen and Irene produced a database with one hundred and fifty names and addresses and made sure that everyone who should be included was included. The feedback after Christmas from the community was excellent. We organised sponsorship of the postage through TASK Ltd., we made the cards in the Centre and the two ladies looked after the rest.

Also last Christmas, we had a raffle which assists us in the provision of services for the community and both Helen and Irene were pivotal to its success. Between them they sold a huge volume of tickets along with sourcing sponsorship for prizes. This is not specifically part of their job description, but they, along with the BREDA participants, really drove this fundraising effort, because of their commitment to their local community.

According to the “Guide to the Rural Social Scheme” from the Dept. of Social Protection, “Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fisher persons, participants experience opportunities to improve existing, or develop new skills, and perform valuable work in the community” (source: Guide-to-the-Rural-Social-Scheme.aspx#q1). In the case of these two ladies the above certainly holds true, as our local and wider community definitely benefits from their expertise and their dedication to improving the lives of those living in rural areas who may feel isolated or alone.

The Rathangan Community centre just underwent a one million euro refurbishment. Karen Gorey a participant on the Rural Social Scheme came on board shortly after the work was completed as one of our administrators.

Karen has proved to be the best asset the Centre has. She is an excellent worker, diligent, thorough and is interested in the Centre doing well. Her administration work is to the highest standard. Karen also continually promotes the interests of the centre through social media and other marketing methods. She ensures all upcoming events are well advertised in particular any training courses which are funded through the SICAP programme of County Kildare LEADER Partnership. A number of other events are also held at the centre and these include Karate Classes, Irish Dancing Classes, Yoga, Slimming World etc. She continually looks for new events and classes to ensure the hall is used to its full advantage. Her people skills are excellent as are her negotiating skills especially in once events where she always gets the best price for the hall/room.

In addition to all of the above, Karen ensures that the hall is maintained and is kept in immaculate condition. She works with the two men assigned as caretakers to ensure the Centre is cleaned regularly, that rooms are set up for events and indeed the different classes. She follows up diligently with users who are slow to pay. As previously mentioned Karen has proved to be a valuable member of the staff and a great asset to the centre and to the Committee who are all volunteers. In summary, she runs the Rathangan community Centre to the highest standards and both myself as Company secretary and the Chairman Paddy O’Loughlin can only give Karen the highest possible recommendation.

Carbury parish Graveyards

The Rural Social Scheme has been working on the maintenance and upkeep of Graveyards in the County since 2006. The request for the Rural Social Scheme to engage in works in Graveyards came at the time when Minister O’Cuiv received a letter from Mervyn A Maxwell M.P.S.I., who identified a historical significance with a number of graveyards in the Carbury area. Through a lot of consultation with landowners, committees, the Heritage Officer in Kildare Co. Council and the National Monuments Section of the Dept. of the Environment, it was agreed that grass cutting and general upkeep of Kilpatrick Burial Ground would be carried out by RSS participants. Since 2006, 2 more graveyards in the area are now also maintained. The following is a brief synopsis of the background to the graveyards

Ardkill Graveyard

Ardkill Graveyard can be found in the Parish of Carbury, Its entrance is off an unmarked road 1 mile south-east of the crossroads known as “the sweep” of Carbury. Several fields have to be crossed to reach the graveyard, which is enclosed entirely by a random rubble stone built wall with vertical coping. The earliest date of interment visible is March 26th 1710, records show 120 persons are buried with some 51 headstones recorded, the church which was built with random black limestone is in ruins.

Templedoath Graveyard

TTempledoath burial ground is situated on the south side of Carbury Hill, it is accessed through the land of Mr. John Potterton. Records show of 180 persons buried here with some 85 Headstones recorded, a feature of the inscriptions shows a number of headstones with only one person or one generation recorded. The graveyard is overgrown.