1 Mar 2021
Today (1st March 2021) Communities Minster Deirdre Hargey, Paul Donnelly, Director of Rural Affairs Division and Gerard Treacy, Head of Branch – Rural Affairs West, joined community organisations to hear the impact of funding from DfC and DEARA in response to coronavirus and how groups have worked tirelessly to support those most vulnerable.
The immediate and longer-term effect of Covid on our community and VSCE sector in NI required government intervention and a partnership with the Community Foundation ensured communities, charities and voluntary groups had the support they needed at the right level and at the right time.
Almost one year ago today the Community Foundation launched the coronavirus community fund for NI and one year on, £7m has been awarded to over 1,000 groups.
Contributions from DFC and DAERA totalled £2.2 million and both Ministers met the groups online today to hear how the fund has supported communities.
“Whilst the generosity of the local community has been phenomenal and the contribution from government welcome, it’s the impact of this funding and the difference it’s made to peoples’ lives that matters most and is important,” said Siofra Healy, Director of Development at the Foundation. “We’re delighted to welcome the Ministers today to hear from communities first hand and to get an insight into the opportunities and challenges the voluntary sector is experiencing as a result of Covid.”
Groups attending included Cloughmills Cultural & Historical Society who explained how sewing protective gowns for the NHS made an impact and Millbrook Community Development Association who delivered food hampers to elderly residents.
Minister Deirdre Hargey, Department for Communities said “It has been a privilege to meet and chat with community groups who have adapted their services to ensure their communities remained supported. Mental Health issues at all ages, exacerbated by the pandemic is a major concern for me and my Executive colleagues going forward. I am delighted that my department’s support for communities continues to make a difference.”
Minister Gordon Lyons, DEARA added “We know that crises like this can often have a disproportionate impact on rural communities. Thank you to everyone involved in ensuring this support has reached the grassroots across Northern Ireland.”
To find out more about communities and their work during Covid, read our Covid Report here.