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Village Catalyst Pilot Projects Captured on Film

15 October 2020


The Architectural Heritage Fund's NI Support Officer, Rita Harkin, has been working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Department for Communities (DfC) Historic Environment Division (HED) since 2017 to support the Village Catalyst pilot programme. 

This pioneering pilot, which is funded through DAERA’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme, and administered by HED, seeks to restore and adapt historic buildings at risk in towns or villages with a population of 5,000 or under. 

Rita's role has been to select, shape and shepherd 4 projects which fit with the pilot's objectives. They include conversion of an 18th century post office in Gracehill into a training hotel in partnership with NOW Group, an award-winning social enterprise which helps young people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future; creation of childcare facilities from the Woolstore, Caledon; the development of a well-being and co-working hub in the Pat Murphy House, Ederney; and the adaptation of a listed bank, now known the Chandler's House, into a flexible community space with affordable housing above.

These two short films give a sense of the transformative power of these projects, and the positive impact they are having on the villages in which they sit. AHF has commissioned Rural Action to carry out a baseline study into the latent potential of the Village Catalyst programme, Their research is providing robust evidence in support of further investment in these types of projects, which make a real difference to the daily lives of vulnerable people in rural areas and to the overall life and prosperity of their community and place.

Editor’s notes

1)            The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. We are the only specialist heritage social investor in the UK. We provide advice, development grants and loans.

2)            For media enquiries please contact Oliver Brodrick-Ward, on 020 79250199 /

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