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Communities Minister announces £3.2m COVID funding boost

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Coleraine Town Hall
Coleraine Town Hall

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín today announced £3.2 million in additional funding to Councils to allow them to support the voluntary and community sector as it continues to recover and help citizens to get through the COVID-19 crisis.

The funding boost will support local grassroots community and voluntary organisations across council areas working with individuals and communities during the pandemic and will be used for community support, access to food and financial wellbeing.

Carál Ní Chuilín said: “I am delighted to announce this significant package of funding for voluntary and community sector groups, through local Councils. My department is continuing to build partnerships with Councils and local communities, working together to tackle the impacts of the pandemic and to support those who have been hardest hit, many of whom were already struggling with the effects of poverty.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, I am aware of the need to help people and communities recover from its devastating impact and that is why I am happy that I am able to provide a further £3.2m in funding to community level organisations who are best placed to support people in need.”

The package includes funding to support a more sustainable and strategic response to food insecurity, connectedness and social isolation and financial wellbeing. Councils, through their community development programmes, will work with the Department to direct the funding to those community sector organisations who are responding to need on the ground.

The funding will be allocated in three strands, as follows:

– £1.75m – additional allocation to the COVID-19 Community Support Fund: The Department, as part of the COVID Community Support Fund, initially allocated £1.5m to Councils in April 2020. The additional allocation of £1.75m will continue to support the vital role that grassroots voluntary and community sector groups play in supporting individuals and communities particularly as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. Councils should continue to allocate the funding in line with the four high level CSP objectives and in line with three broad criteria specifically related to the coronavirus pandemic; Financial need; Food support and Supporting Connectivity.

– £750k – COVID-19 Access to Food Fund: The Access to Food Fund will help to deliver a more strategic response that will shape any future emergency response and for ongoing / future policy development, reflecting how we work in partnership to co-design and co-deliver support. In the context of support to citizens on the challenges of food poverty/food insecurity, the proposed support will: Recognise and maximise the local infrastructure – building capacity, capability and collaboration with stakeholders; Build on partnerships established, including the Voluntary and Community Sector; Broker strategic/programme links within and between actions to deliver outcomes for citizens

– £700k – COVID-19 Financial Inclusion Fund: The Financial Inclusion Fund has been enabled by an additional allocation from HM Treasury to target those adversely impacted by the economic fallout during the pandemic, to help build financial resilience and improve overall financial wellbeing through access to money management, low cost/affordable borrowing, promoting savings and linking into holistic debt and income maximisation advice.

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