Coronavirus Update Meeting with Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA

NICVA had a very positive meeting yesterday, Wednesday 18 March 2020, with Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey

The Minster briefed NICVA on a whole range of issues in her Departmental responsibilities  across social security, housing, mortgages and proposals being developed to alleviate hardship caused by the crisis.

Minister Hargey, given her own experience, understands the power for good within voluntary and community groups particularly in times of crisis and she wants to release that energy and resource. She will set up a system for connecting our sector to government’s emergency committees.

NICVA’s Chief Executive said “I was impressed and heartened that the Minister is on top of all the potential issues, she doesn’t have answers yet on them all but is working at pace to mitigate them.  She is also tasking her officials to develop papers for the Northern Ireland Executive that require interdepartmental action."

The full press release is detailed below:

 Minister outlines initial support for Community and Voluntary Groups as they pull together to respond to COVID-19

Date published: 18 March 2020

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA wrote today to all community and voluntary sector groups funded by her Department to assure them of her support as they gear up to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in communities here.

“The role of community organisations has never been more important as we seek to protect people who might be vulnerable across our communities.  I’ve been heartened with the community response that is already kicking in. Volunteers and community activists are pulling together and seeking to work with government as we tackle this threat to public health together.  I want to make sure that whatever help I can put in place is there to make sure this important work is supported.

“I have taken steps to ensure that flexibility is there for Groups who are responding to the threat presented by COVID-19, who might otherwise be thinking about delivery targets or administration.  We need to support people to do the right thing right now.”

The Minister continued:  “I am also announcing today that I will bring forward very quickly a COVID-19 related Community Contingency Fund.  As things develop over the coming weeks, I want to make sure that funding will be available where it is needed by groups who are supporting people who are socially isolated, struggling financially or who can’t access food supplies.

“I will continuously review the situation and work with other departments across the Executive to coordinate our response.”

Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA, with whom the Minister has been discussing a co-ordinated response, said: “NICVA welcomes this approach by the Minister to support the Sector as we work together to respond to these unprecedented challenges.  I too have been heartened by the willingness of groups on the ground to step up in any way they can to support their communities.  I look forward to NIVCA working further with the Minister’s officials on the design of the Community Support Fund.”  

You can view the full press release on the Department of Communities website here

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