Victims of violence during the ‘Troubles’ in Derry are being urged to bid for payouts from the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund.
Those who lost loved ones or sustained injuries during the North’s conflict are being invited to attend an information event in the Tower Hotel tomorrow from 10am to 1pm. The event is being hosted by community organisations, counselling service Cúnamh and and ex-prisoners group Tar Abhaile.
The event will provide information about the financial and practical support available from the NIMF for bereaved individuals and families and those injured, as well as primary carers of injured individuals.
The Fund has received £3.5 million from OFM/DFM for the year 2010/11 yet applications for assistance have not been flooding in from Derry.
Cathy Nelis, Cúnamh Co-ordinator said: “We are hosting the event to raise awareness of the NIMF schemes and to provide assistance for people to complete applications. I have been informed by the NIMF that the uptake from applicants in the Derry area has been relatively low, in comparison to other areas. This may be attributable to several factors, including lack of awareness about the fund, uncertainty amongst victims/survivors about their eligibility; and lack of support available to potential applicants.
“We want to ensure that victims and survivors are sufficiently informed about the fund and can make applications if they so wish.”
Cúnamh has submitted over 60 applications on behalf of victims/survivors since November.
Ms Nelis added: “We are specifically trying to reach those who were injured during the conflict and for this reason we have asked Tar Abhaile to assist. Many people were injured, both physically and psychologically, and this continues to impact upon their daily lives. Many survivors are growing old and their injuries may have become more complex. In the current financial climate their needs may not be prioritised and this is precisely what the fund is there to assist with.”
Méabh Mackel, Co-ordinator for Tar Abhaile, added: “This is particularly true of the Republican former prisoner community, which is an aging population. In the past, this funding was not available to former political prisoners, so we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the fund now that it is.
“We’d like to encourage former prisoners and their families, who feel they are eligible to apply, or would like further information, to come along to the information morning, or to contact our office.”
The new schemes were launched in November 2010 to reflect a ‘needs-led’ approach. The application process has been simplified and the processing time has been reduced.
Ms Nelis said that her organisation will have counselling and complimentary therapy staff at the event to provide support. “We are well aware that this can be an emotionally painful and traumatic process for victims and survivors.” For further information about the NIMF schemes or the information event call Cúnamh on 02871 288868 Tar Abhaile 02871 266675 or NIMF 02890 761166.