Rural Community Network has supported and developed the role of the Rural Residents’ Forum (RRF) in supporting rural tenants and residents to scrutinise housing issues from a rural perspective.

The Forum represents residents from rural housing estates across rural NI and membership is drawn from representatives across all six counties in NI and is supported by NIHE’s Rural Unit, Rural Community Network, and is attended by Supporting Communities NI.

The group has actively engaged with NIHE staff over key issues such as DSD’s Social Housing Reform Programme consultation and NIHE’s Community Involvement Strategy.

The Forum is a place for residents to share good practice, share experiences of their representation of their areas on various committees and to discuss issues common to rural residents across the region.   The residents have a keen interest in working to ensure all rural residents have access to information, advice and support. Issues which have been discussed range from concerns over the reform of local government, anti-social behaviour, digital outreach programmes and access to advice and support in health, benefits uptake and housing related matters. Many of the representatives are key volunteers within their own areas and they bring a high level of skill and expertise to this Forum.

RCN is committed to supporting local people to avail of opportunities to get involved with a Forum such as this one, and we provide training and support to help individuals to feel comfortable in being a part of the group.

Click here to download the Rural Residents' Forum leaflet

The current members of the RRF are: 


    Phyllis Clarke
    Fivemiletown Residents' Association

    Phyllis Clarke is married with four children and three grandchildren.  On retiring from local government after 27 years’ service due to health reasons she became heavily involved in her local community in Fivemiletown Estates Group.  The Group is a committee of 12 who are all very committed and passionate about the “wee village”.  The Group thinks the village is sometimes isolated and forgotten about but now they have a voice.  Phyllis represents Fivemiletown on HCN in Dungannon and also on the Mid-Ulster Scrutiny Panel and the Rural Residents’ Forum.  All of these platforms are a great way of sorting out some on the housing issues which affect our community.

    Discussion is very important and she hopes that her being part of all these forums has made a difference.  She feels that rural communities all over Northern Ireland have similar issues and her vision is that we are all listened too.
    Contact details:
    Mobile: 07799 718751

    June Livingstone
    Coleshill Community Association

    Helen Rowland
    Dungormley Estate & Lir Grove Residents’ Association

    Helen is originally from Listowel Co. Kerry but now resides in Newtownhamilton.

    She is a widow with six children and 14 grandchildren. Helen is dyslexic. She joined her local Residents’ Association to do good for her community.  She has been pro-active in getting her town cleaned and getting flowers and trees planted.

    Helen has been a member of the Rural Residents’ Forum from June 2019.

    Martin McCartney
    Maydown Community Association

    Martin has been Chairman of Maydown Community Association for the past nine years and is also one of the founder members of MCA thanks to the help and expertise of RCN and RCEP at that time.  He is currently Vice Chair of North West Ageing Well Together, a sub Group representing The North West, under the umbrella of Age NI.  He was an active member of the Future Forums Chairs Group, until this was amalgamated with other Forum Groups.    Martin is vice chair of The Waterside Area Safety Forum, which represents communities in the East Bank of Derry/ L'Derry.  He is on the Steering Group of Waterside Area Partnership Links Programme.  He is also joint Chair of the Strathfoyle/ Maydown Safety Forum and is involved with Age Sector Platform - Hands Off and Fuel Poverty Committees.  He is a Member of the Consultative Forum of AGE NI and has carried out work in a Peer Facilitators Role on behalf of AGE NI.  He is also currently serving as a Committee Member of PRG, Peace and Reconciliation Group.  He is a Committee Member of HURYT, Have Your Tomorrows and a Committee Member of ALLY Foyle, Adult Learning in Later Years.   He has in the last few months become a Founder Committee Member of a new Organisation in Derry called DEED, Derry Engaging and Empowering Dementia.

    Patricia McQuillan
    Moneydig Rural Network

    Patricia McQuillan MBE is chair of the Rural Residents’ Forum representing the rural hamlet of Moneydig.  She is also secretary of Moneydig Rural Network and works continuously to make sure that the rural voice is heard.  Moneydig is a rural socially excluded location with very little facilities, so the network provides social, environmental and educational opportunities for the local and surrounding areas.  The network is organising a large music festival called ‘gig in the dig’ and was run last year with great success.

    She is vice chair of the Central Housing Forum and represents the Rural Residents’ Forum.  The Forum has a dual role in providing SCNI with valuable feedback on the needs of the community whilst acting as a consultative forum for NIHE, dealing with policy issues affecting tenants/ residents from tenancies to service delivery.  She is on the working group that organises the NIHE Community Conference and participates in every area of this work.   She attends the interagency meetings where NIHE, PSNI, Council, Transport NI and community come together to sort out issues in the towns and estates. 

    If you want to make contact about any rural issue or would like more information on any of these groups don't hesitate to contact her.
    Mobile:   07590 105053

    Anne Quinn
    Cairns Residents' Group
    As a grandmother to two small children, she feels it is up to us to make opportunities happen and leave a lasting legacy. She has been a member of Cairns Residents Group for 9 years. The Group was originally set up just to make small changes to the estates where she lives and after a break they reformed to try and make bigger ones. Since then it has made the big changes for the area through an allotments program. The Group works closely with many organisations and statutory bodies in the quest to make that wee part of the world a better place to live in.

    She attends the Scrutiny Panel meetings in Coleraine and has also been asked to sit in on the multi-agency meetings in Corrymeela. She was asked to join the RRF not really knowing what it was about, but has learned how valuable the group is in being able to influence the future housing situation and future schemes etc for tenants. Joining these panels can give us an opportunity through the RRF to ask and demand answers to the questions nobody seems to be able to answer.
    :  07892 494576

    Sheila McWilliams
    Coolessan Community Association

    Sheila McWilliams has been a member of the Rural Residents’ Association since February 2018.  She represents Coolessan Community Association which was formed on 8th July 2004. The Association is a non political, non sectarian organisation who promotes social inclusion for all, via the means of educational, health, recreational well-being projects. Coolessan CA is made up of volunteers and provides day to day activities and support to its members.  Its programmes include over 50s health club, health programmes for women, men and teenagers as well as youth activities, arts and crafts, advice clinics and bus trips.

    Coolessan CA is a mechanism in which delivery of information to help raise awareness with statutory agencies to enhance educational attainment, employability and access to services.  Members work with agencies including PSNI and NIHE to improve community infra-structure and the appearance of the Coolessan ward.

    Members of the Coolessan CA sit on forums such as Interagency NIHE Tenants Panel, Disability Forum, PCSP, Be Safe Be Well Men’s shed and Neighbourhood Renewal. 
    Coolessan Community Association over the past 15 years have been successful in:

    • town bus service added to this part of town,
    • a mile-long traffic calming system along Roemill Road,
    • new parking bays extended in Roemill Gardens
    • new extended foot path on the junction of Bally Quinn road.
    • refit of new streetlights. Group lobbied for this previously and were told it wouldn’t happen. This has been successful without the input of councillors.
    • Bins that have been installed on prehirery of estate which has been a great way to try and combat dog fouling.
    • Addition of disposal nappy sacks for the dog owners in case they forgot theirs to be attached by cable ties to every other lamp post on the prehirery. 

    Mary Watson
    Carnlough Community Association

    Mary has been secretary of Carnlough Community Association for 10 years and takes an active part in many aspects of community life. She helps with the organisation of events such as fun days, luncheon club, summer schemes and citizenship visits with local schools. She has been involved in formulating our Village Plan and following it through with the MEA council. She campaigned to retain Carnlough Library and volunteer with MEA Museum service firstly in the development of the Heritage Hub at Carnlough Town hall and subsequently in the management of The Hub which is a wonderful interpretation centre and community facility.

    She represents Carnlough and the East Antrim area on MEA Housing Community Network and the Rural Residents Forum and is a member of MEA Peace IV Partnership Board.  She also enjoys spending time with her 5 grandchildren.

    Michael Connell
    Dungormley Estate & Lir Grove Residents’ Association

    Micheal Connell joined the Rural Residents’ Forum in June 2019.  He is a member of his estate’s first ever Resident’s Group which consists of eight members.  Micheal joined the group to improve the local area but to also give him a different ‘focus’ from long-term health conditions.

    In the two years since the group has been formed, big improvements have been made in the estate. To acknowledge this, the estate was awarded ‘Best keep medium housing area 2019’.

    Micheal attends HCN meetings in Newry as well as the RRF meetings in Cookstown. He feels attendance at these meetings are important to get across a resident’s perspective as well as a rural resident’s view. Micheal feels as well as his other committee members that Newtownhamilton has been neglected by agencies for decades and now it is time for change.

    Clifford Wylie
    Huntly Community Champion

    Clifford is a member of the local housing community network in Banbridge which, consists of approximately 80% rural area and settlements.  He sits on the South Area Scrutiny panel and the Banbridge Locality Forum which feeds directly into the ABC council area.  He is an active member of Banbridge Good Relations Forum (who is always keen for new members).  Through NIHE and SCNI involvement he is also engaged in the Disability Forum, and last but least the Rural Resident’s Forum.  All of this participation allows him to hear and input, inform, get a voice in to represent those not present and have info to feed back. Should you have any issues you wish to have raised ring and talk to me, I’m not a fan of emails or messages, as these are dump it and run mechanisms.
    Contact:  028 4062 6418


Sustainable Rural Communities Annual Progress Report for 201

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