Latest data from the Department for Communities shows that 27% of the population in the Fermanagh and Omagh District is living in relative poverty, against an average rate of 17% across Northern Ireland.

Support organisations in the district all report an increase in the number of people impacted by the ongoing Cost-of-Living crisis, with foodbank referrals continuing to rise, and the profile of those seeking support evolving as more working families come forward for support.

It is now widely acknowledged that the ongoing Cost-of-Living crisis is evolving into a “Debt Crisis” as people are unable to afford essentials and are forced into borrowing. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council commission local independent advice provision in the district, and advice organisations are reporting unprecedented levels of debt enquiries, an increase in the number of people being in a ‘negative budget’ where a person cannot meet their living costs, and that almost all those people availing of independent advice services have no savings.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to working alongside statutory and community partners to address poverty in the district and is developing an Anti-Poverty Strategy and Action Plan to provide a long-term approach to the issue. While a long-term approach is critical to reducing poverty the Council recognises the extreme hardship currently faced by increasing numbers of people and the need to respond.

To support those most impacted by the Cost-of-Living crisis this winter, the Council has developed a programme to address immediate hardship with funding from the Department for Communities to the value of £310,000. This programme of support is targeted towards those experiencing food and fuel poverty.

Measures include: Funding to St. Vincent de Paul and the British Red Cross to deliver a fuel support programme to help up to 775 households experiencing fuel poverty. Households in fuel need can contact St. Vincent de Paul and the British Red Cross directly. Referrals can also be made by local support organisations on behalf of a household. This support is now available and contact information for St. Vincent de Paul and the British Red Cross can be found on the Council website.

87 primary and secondary schools in the district have been offered funding to provide additional food to pupils through, for example, breakfast clubs and healthy snack initiatives. Financial assistance has also been allocated to the established foodbanks in the district, St. Vincent de Paul and the British Red Cross, to support households experiencing immediate food poverty, while further funding has been allocated to South West Age Partnership (SWAP) to provide additional food provision for older people at risk of food insecurity in the district from January 2024. Households can contact foodbanks, St Vincent de Paul, the British Red Cross and SWAP directly, or local support organisations and agencies can refer households experiencing food poverty to them.

The Council has also awarded funding to a number of support organisations in the district that work directly with households in need. This funding has been put in place to enable these organisations to provide an additional emergency response to individuals and families they are already working with who are experiencing a financial crisis.

In addition, the Council has secured £124,000 from the Department for Communities Social Supermarket Fund to provide a ‘wraparound’ programme of support to households experiencing, or at risk of, food poverty. The Council has recently appointed a consortium of local organisations to provide this ‘wraparound’ programme of support for up to 140 households between December 2023 and March 2024. Central to the programme will be the development of a personalised plan in partnership with the participating household. The plan will aim to increase income and reduce household costs by providing support around, for example, debt, benefits, budgeting, housing, healthy eating, physical and mental wellbeing and employability skills. Assistance will also be available for households in need of emergency food support. Further information on this programme will be available from early December on the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council website and social media channels.

Information and advice

A Cost-of-Living hub is available on the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council website, The hub provides information on a range of support available from various service providers in areas including benefits, debt and money management, fuel and energy, employment and training, emotional and physical wellbeing, food, housing and transport.

The hub also includes information on events organised by statutory, community and voluntary partner organisations, taking place across the district to provide information and advice on a range of areas including benefits entitlement, maximising income, debt advice, and other supports available.

Poverty can affect anyone and the Council encourages those in need to seek support by visiting the Cost-of-Living hub on the Council website (