First Dormant Accounts Fund NI grants awarded

20 Apr 2021 Shauna O'Neill    Last updated: 20 Apr 2021

East Belfast Mission photo

A faith-based charity, an Irish language and cultural organisation and a theatre company are the first organisations to be awarded grants from The Dormant Accounts Fund NI.  

The programme, delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund in conjunction with the Department of Finance, is supporting the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to be more resilient and prepared for the long-term future.  

East Belfast Mission has been awarded a £99,921 grant to support the long-term sustainability of their Hosford Homelessness Services, An Gaeláras in Derry/Londonderry, has been awarded £76,000 to improve their financial resilience by increasing opportunities to generate income and Pintsized Productions Ltd in north Belfast has been awarded a £2,700 grant to improve the skills of Board members. 

Dormant accounts are UK bank and building society accounts that have been untouched for 15 or more years, where customers who own the accounts cannot be traced. Over £20 million is currently available and money will continue to be released each year to support the long-term sustainability of the VCSE sector.  

As part of the first phase, organisations can apply for up to £100,000 as part of a flexible and responsive grant programme to help them adapt to future challenges and be more financially resilient.  

Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “There has been a lot of interest in Dormant Accounts Fund NI and we are delighted to be able to award the first grants. 

“We know many organisations are trying to plan for the long term and thinking about the changes they need to make to become more sustainable.  Those changes require leadership, strategic planning, new skills and strong governance. Those are things for which funding often isn’t available and that’s where the Dormant Accounts Fund comes in. It will provide flexible, multi-year funding and allow a diverse range of organisations to plan for a more secure future. 

“There is also support for larger investments that will enable collaboration and develop new and creative Northern Ireland-wide or sector-specific approaches to sustainability.”  

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy said: “It is great to see the very first initial awards being made from the Dormant Accounts Fund. This funding will support these projects with longer term sustainability and resilience which are at the very core of this Fund. I look forward to further awards being made in the near future and seeing the positive longer term impact the Dormant Account Fund has within the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. 

East Belfast Mission is using their grant to develop its leadership team and the long-term sustainability of their Hosford Homelessness Services, which provides accommodation and support for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

Aidan Bryne, Homelessness Services Manager at East Belfast Mission explained: “This funding will enable us to strengthen what we do, make our existing services better and give us the space and resources to develop new projects that will directly benefit people who are homeless and improve their lives.  

“Over the past 10 years we’ve been reacting to current needs and challenges, but we were always aware that we didn’t have the resources to do any long-term planning. Applying to Dormant Accounts has given us the funding to make the changes we need over the next three years to help the people that we serve and plan for the challenges that lie ahead.” 

An Gaeláras in Derry/Londonderry, which runs Irish language education, music and cultural activities, is using the funding to generate more income and make it more sustainable so they can reduce their reliance on grants.  

Pádraig Mac Congáil, Chief Executive of An Gaeláras said: “We currently receive funding from quite a few funders, but one of our ongoing goals is to become more self-sufficient. We want to be able to provide a valuable community hub and services into the future as we develop our educational, cultural, social and employment opportunities. 

“In recent years our staff and Board have recognised the value in appointing someone to increase our revenue and help with our sustainability, but we haven’t been able to dedicate the required resources into it. So once the Dormant Accounts Fund opened, we were ready to apply straight away as we already had plans in place and knew what we needed - this just gave us the opportunity to finance it. I’m confident the organisation will be in a stronger position in two years’ time and it should be very clear that the sustainability of the organisation has been increased.”  

Pintsized Productions Ltd, which is a theatre company in north Belfast, is using their grant to improve the skills and confidence of their Board to allow them to deliver their strategic plan and expand their reach within the sector. The two-year project is providing leadership training for their chairperson and running training for the rest of their Board members.  

Emma McCabe, Chair of Pintsized Productions Ltd said: “Our organisation has been led by volunteers for over 10 years, many of us being founding committee and board members. From the beginning it was always a goal of ours to offer specialist training, but we haven’t had the funding. 

“This grant will allow us to upskill our board members to continue working in the background, completing funding applications, updating policies and procedures, fundraising and marketing, to help ensure a future for the organisation and for the Emerging Artists we employ.”  

There is no closing date for Dormant Accounts Fund NI and organisations are asked to consider carefully what they need before making an application. For more information visit: www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/dormant-accounts-ni.  

   

shauna.oneill@nicva.org's picture
by Shauna O'Neill

Information Officer

[email protected]

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