Fermanagh Rural Community Initiative (FRCI)

Fermanagh Rural Community Initiative is an accredited supplier of training courses and has been providing high quality training for nearly 20 years. The majority of FRCI’s work over the years has been around employability support for long term unemployed and this work introduced cohorts of individuals who had become isolated and totally disadvantaged within society. Many lacked the confidence to engage with training organisations never mind move into employment and they even became more excluded and vulnerable with the impact of Covid 19 pandemic.

Mentor: ARC Healthy Living Centre

FRCI applied to the Elevate programme to assist the organisation to support individuals who were ineligible for employability projects and also to help FRCI to become more focused on community development within their organisation. FRCI also had previous experience of working with ARC Healthy Living Centre, an Elevate mentor, and recognised the value of rebuilding these connections going forward in a very difficult time for all.

Prior to Covid-19 pandemic, 27% of the local population were economically inactive and the majority of this figure were due to health issues. The impact the pandemic has had on local communities only increased this figure and many were reluctant to take part in formal training opportunities due to lack of confidence and self-esteem. Their Elevate project would provide an opportunity to complete recreational training opportunities with the potential to complete one short formal qualification in areas such as First Aid, Food Safety or Manual Handling.


This Elevate project supported 15 participants over a 26-week period alongside a signposting facility which was available to any participant who wanted additional support. Aidan Ormbsy from ARC Healthy Living Centre mentored FRCI and helped them to link into a group which supports people with deteriorating eyesight, a group that works with ethnic minorities and a group working with the Traveller community. These new contacts have opened up opportunities for future projects.

FRCI is more aware of the networking opportunities to support and enrich the quality of services provided. This includes all sectors of the community and even the initial contact with the local pharmacy to complete the BCPP project is a major development for FRCI. Using a joined-up approach the participants achieved their goals and everyone worked together to address local issues. Taking some time to reflect who is working in the area and by networking with them could help build the local community power to make a change was really significant for our organisation.

 FRCI is aware than gaining employment can lead to improved health and standing within society. Taking part in the Elevate programme has shown how much of an impact taking part in such activities can have on an individual’s health. The connection between our services and addressing health inequalities is significant and FRCI would not have fully appreciated this without the support of Elevate. Taking part also helped FRCI to focus on the local support mechanisms and how they can all work together to improve health at a local level. We are now seeing new referrals come from the life cycle of the project. We have also learned from other local groups how they addressed some issues and this has been really beneficial.

 Prior to attending the training, I would not have been aware as how FRCI’s work with the local community was impacting on health and in particular health inequalities. It has made FRCI more aware of how they can reduce health inequalities through their local work and especially in areas where there are issues around health care provision in Fermanagh.

“The Elevate programme recognized the level of work we were doing and were able to support us to recognize achievements we were gaining without realising internally.”

Ciaran Rooney, Managing Director, FRCI