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South Tyrone Empowerment Programme
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Dungannon, Co Tyrone
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MIDAS touch for advice in Mid-Ulster

16 September 2015

 A new advice service for the Mid-Ulster area was launched at an event on the Burnavon on Wednesday. The service called “MIDAS” (MID-ulster Advice Services) is new partnership between Magherafelt District Advice Services (MDAS) and South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP) who have been delivering advice services in Magherafelt, Dungannon and Cookstown for a number of years. The idea behind the partnership was to better meet the advice support needs of the population of the new Mid-Ulster Council in a collaborative way; the organisations have been working with Collaboration NI in developing this partnership.

Bernadette McAliskey, STEP continues “as the environment in which both ourselves and MDAS work in has undergone great transition over the past few months in terms of the establishment of the new Mid-Ulster Council it became apparent early on that collaborative and partnership work is the best way of securing access to appropriate, quality, confidential, free advice for all residents across Mid-Ulster. Both organisations have a core ethos of empowerment and support to those most in need in our communities and we are delighted that the MIDAS partnership was born from this common purpose”.

During the event delegates heard from Marie Gilmore, Manager of MDAS who spoke about the vision of MIDAS and that the mission of the partnership was not just about delivering quality face-to-face advice but “to influence the development of social policies and community services, both locally and regionally”. Collaboration NI’s Leeann Kelly then addressed those attending to talk about the development of the MIDAS partnership from just an idea to become something operational and how this type of partnership could only work if there was appreciation of the human influence on change and transition. She spoke about how the two organisations, STEP and MDAS, came together in a series of planning meetings in the development of MIDAS and how encouraging the process had been to date.

Two key advisors, James McCann and Adrian Glackin then presented research they had undertaken on “The Living Wage” and how this impacted families in the Mid-Ulster area and as a result the advice and support sector in the area which led to a group discussion on the various stresses caused by employees not receiving the “living wage”. Discussion centred on the idea that if people were paid, particularly in the private sector the “living wage” as opposed to the “minimum wage” then the need for income top-ups through benefits could be removed and more disposable income for individuals who could be spending it in the local economy.

For full details on the research papers discussed at the launch event and about the MIDAS partnership can be found on www.stepni.org or www.magherafeltadvice.co.uk

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