‘Women angry at funding cut’

Rosie Doherty, programme co-ordinator at the Galliagh Women's Group.
Rosie Doherty, programme co-ordinator at the Galliagh Women's Group.

A Derry women’s group has said a decision by Derry City and Strabane District Council to cut its funding by 80 per cent ‘beggared belief.’

Margaret Stewart, Chair of the Galliagh Women’s Group, said a funding offer of £750 was ‘insulting.’ Ms. Stewart called for a total overhaul of the criteria which the council is using to decide allocations.

She said: “What we were offered is so paltry it is a joke. This is a massively deprived area and the demands on our services are enormous. £750 really is an insult.”

The Galliagh group’s programme co-ordinator, Rosie Doherty, said the centre was open five days a week, currently provided 15 different activities for women, had an advice centre that rarely emptied, and a night time outreach for those who needed it, all year round.

“When one activity shuts we barely have time to get everything in place for the next. Our staffing levels are at skeletal level and we are depending on volunteers for most of our work. When we learned that our funding had been cut by almost 80% some members of our committee felt like pulling down the shutters and packing it in.”

GWG treasurer, Marie Gillespie said: “We have to find £4,000 a year just to run this place. That’s just to cover the costs of electricity, heating, day-to-day costs etc. £4,000 is a lot of money to fundraise in a deprived community. We celebrated 25 years here just a few weeks ago. Our anniversary present from the council was a slap in the teeth.”

A spokesperson for the Council said it offered support to local community organisations through a number of funding streams.

In its most recent round of funding allocations the Galliagh Women’s Group was successful in securing £724 through the Community Support Fund, the Council said.

The spokesperson stated: “All local community organisations are invited to apply for these funds, this is a competitive process and all applications are subject to the same assessment criteria administered through a fair and fully transparent formal application process.

“Any organisation can request feedback regarding their application and Council would encourage groups to get in contact for advice or information regarding the funding application process if they have any questions or concerns.”