10 Jan 2022
I would like to say thank you to everyone for helping us to make 2021 a year of impact, perseverance and resilience!
Although the year has been hugely challenging, with many sectors particularly hard-hit by the Pandemic, we are proud of how the community sector responded rapidly, stepping up to the challenge and putting support services in place for those most vulnerable at a time when they needed it most.
As we look ahead to 2022, our learnings from 2021 will shape our priorities and grantmaking, enabling you to support your community needs. 2021 has reiterated just how important strong, independent, grass roots communities are in NI and the Foundation will continue to support you.
Our work will focus on many areas such as peacebuilding, philanthropy, poverty, climate change, innovation, inclusion and many more pressing issues in our communities. We believe collaboration with you and all of our partners is key to developing a strong voice, eliminating duplication and ensuring a diverse and inclusive society.
Last year we awarded over £8m through 1,600 grants across a variety of issues and causes. You helped us to ensure 1 in 3 people in NI benefited from this funding. We will continue to review our funding processes, streamlining to make it as accessible and relevant for applicants, ensuring our assessors are as flexible as they can be and supporting those most in need. Through collaboration with others, we will be reacting to new challenges arising and helping to grow even more resilient communities.
Mind, the mental health charity and many others have commented on ‘The dual pandemic’, suicide being fuelled from the effects of Covid. This was evident from a surge of organisations seeking funding for mental health projects. Highlighting a clear area of concern that we must focus on in 2022 not only by securing more funding but also by supporting and enabling community voices to make change where it is needed.
While community organisations can amplify the voices of the people they work with to speak truth to power, it is not solely their responsibility to make them heard. In this election year and as we build back from the pandemic, those in power, our politicians and influencers need to take responsibility for hearing and acting on what has been said and what we’ve learned. As a Foundation, we will advocate on behalf of communities to ensure commitments are achieved.
By thinking globally and acting locally, in 2022 we will look at ways we can help to achieve future climate goals. By using the UN Sustainable Development Goals we will explore how our work aligns with targets and make changes to meet these throughout all aspects of our work and beyond.
The pandemic widened the gap between rich and poor, creating greater inequality and more disadvantage than ever before. Recent news headlines reporting the rising energy costs have put greater pressure on people’s finances, particularly those most marginalised often forcing them into poverty. Whilst short term packages of support for those affected is welcome, it is not going to be enough and pressure must be put on our Executive to ensure longer-term plans that address these systemic issues.
There are challenges which we can anticipate in 2022 but also those which may take us by surprise. I have no doubt that the Community Foundation will be at the forefront of enabling Northern Ireland’s response to those challenges – connecting people who care to causes that matter; to help achieve our vision of a peaceful, shared and just Northern Ireland.
I want to thank you again for partnering with us, wish you a Happy and Peaceful New Year and we look forward to working with you in 2022.