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MARA Rural Areas Project

Maximising Access to Services, Grants and Benefits in Rural Areas (MARA) Project


The MARA project aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in rural areas throughout Northern Ireland, where the hidden nature of poverty and isolation can make it difficult to connect with the most vulnerable members of our community.

Under the project, people can benefit from a household visit whereby they will be given useful information on support and services which may be of assistance to them.

The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and led by the Public Health Agency for the four year period April 2011 – March 2015.

How MARA works

The programme aims to increase access to benefits, grants and services which are known to improve health and wellbeing. To reach out to the most vulnerable rural households, a personal, supportive and empathetic approach is required. That is where MARA makes a difference.

By placing community networks at the heart of the MARA project and using local knowledge, it is easier to identify and connect with people who could benefit from a household visit.

There are no eligibility criteria for a MARA household visit. However, typically householders that would benefit from a visit include older people, carers, disabled people, lone parents, ethnic minorities, lone adults, farming families and low income families.

People are given information on useful support and services, such as rural community transport, SmartPass, warm homes/energy savings homes scheme, occupational therapy assessments for disabled facilities grants, home safety checks, and benefits entitlement checks.

This support can make a real difference to people’s lives in rural areas.

How to get in touch

If you have any queries or would like further information on the MARA project, please contact:

Teresa McGarvey, MARA Regional Project Manager, Public Health Agency, Health Improvement Team (West), 2

nd Floor, Anderson House, Omagh Co Tyrone, BT78 1EE, telephone (028) 8225 3950, or email

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