In addition to grants agreed by the Local Advisory Committee in May 2020, it was recognised that there were still many individuals and groups in need of ongoing financial support and the best means of reaching those people would be to distribute funding through umbrella groups within the three local authorities. The Secretary discussed with representatives of Causeway Coast & Glens BC; Mid Ulster DC and Derry City & Strabane DC to establish how they could use further donations of £4,000 each in response to difficulties caused by the pandemic, and the following was committed:
Causeway Coast & Glens BC: Having provided feedback on use of the Irish Society’s earlier donation of £3,000 to the Covid-19 Community Support Fund, Patricia O’Brien (Funding Unit Manager) confirmed that the timing of a fresh offer of £4,000 was “perfect. We have just completed consideration of a 3rd strand of applications requesting over £74,000 and, with only £47,500 available, we are oversubscribed. So £4,000 from the Honourable The Irish Society will be a great help”.
Mid Ulster DC: Sean Henry (Good Relations Officer at MUDC) felt that additional funding could be used towards the purchase of Personal Protection Equipment for volunteers in the Council’s community groups. He confirmed that “At present we do supply them with PPE every two weeks, but in many cases this is insufficient. Our volunteers within these groups are doing valuable work – delivering food parcels, collecting and delivering prescriptions and visiting people who are isolated” and so a grant of £4,000 from The Drapers’ Company fund was agreed to help protect the community as volunteers continue to offer such important services.
Derry City & Strabane DC: Following liaison with Shauna Kelpie (Acorn Fund & North West Fund Development) four groups were identified to benefit from additional funding of £1,000 each – with the balance of applicants’ requests being met by CFNI’s New Needs Fund. The recipients were:
- Lincoln Courts Youth and Community Association During the Covid-19 lockdown LCYCA developed greater community capacity and cohesion within areas of close proximity; enhanced community leadership skills; and created more sustainable collective working relationships with other areas. Traditionally territorial in nature, engagement between these areas and organisations had been minimal and occasional. But this new capacity allows groups to enhance community access to resources, services and facilities to the benefit of all participants from the greater Waterside area. Funding will support a more proactive response from LCYCA in addressing new needs which have resulted from Coronavirus: The ‘C.O.P.E’ project aims to enhance and improve existing Health and Wellbeing services; build confidence; alleviate anxiety levels and ultimately empower young women – particularly those from the Waterside estate and surrounding areas.
- R.E.A.C.H (Residentials-Education-Activities-Community-Holidays) Across Sought short-term support with a staff salary (enabling REACH Across to kick-start its weekly Club Nights in Holywell), rent for their Youth Café (which has taken on a greater significance during Lockdown, offering after-school training courses, homework clubs and informal socialising amongst young people from diverse backgrounds) and a streamlined development programme (helping to re-connect young people from their Spring Contact Programme and allowing preparations for 2021 Youth and Schools Programmes). Check out their website to see “What our Education Programme has to offer”.
- St Joseph’s GAC Craigbane As the social, recreational and sporting hub for the community, St Joseph’s Craigbane wanted to enhance its club gym and create a more secure environment for local ladies and younger children by introducing additional equipment (along with the necessary cleaning and sanitation supplies) and training space to facilitate their use. St Joseph’s believe that opening up the club as soon as government guidelines allow will greatly assist in reducing rural social isolation – getting local people back to activities, meeting and enhancing their health and well-being.
- Tiny Tots Community Playgroup In addition to supporting vulnerable people through isolation; addressing poverty, health and well-being; delivering food hampers, cleaning products and offering service Top-Ups (for electric, gas or oil), Tiny Tots Community Playgroup aims to become a life-line to 24 children and families on their Register and living in the Strathfoyle Estate and surrounding areas within its catchment. These children are currently separated from family and friends, and this has proved to be a struggle during the pandemic. Many are concerned it has affected their mental health – with anxiety on the increase along with worries about money, family members out of work and uncertainty about paying bills and providing food. Delivering creative arts and crafts packs, lending out equipment, and offering weekly activities (from exercise classes to cookery and recipe ideas) helps parent:child interaction. And an opportunity to upload pictures daily, which are posted on Facebook, offers a community platform for parents to share experiences and feel better connected.