New & Updated COVID-19 Grant Schemes from local Councils

24 Apr 2020 Lynn Kennedy    Last updated: 17 Jul 2020

This continually updated article details what funds are available for local organisations tackling the impact of COVID-19 on residents within each NI Council area

Financial assistance of up to £1,000 to organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to support community-led initiatives aimed at providing relief to those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.  In particular it will support actions in line with the following interventions:

  • Financial – to those on low income and at-risk due to financial stress.
  • Food – access to food (whether due to cost or availability) for those most in need.
  • Connectivity – to those living alone or in rural and border areas that are likely to experience greater challenges in accessing services.

The programme is part-funded by the Department For Communities.

Causeway Coast and Glens District Council: COVID-19 Community Support Fund (Currently closed)

With funding from DfC, the COVID-19 Community Support Fund is to provide small grants of up to £2000 to local community and voluntary organisations to deal with emerging issues in local communities as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus.  Projects must demonstrate how they address the fund priorities:

  • Reduce isolation and vulnerability of residents of the Borough, particularly those living alone and those living in rural areas ·
  • Address financial need / poverty as a result of Covid-19 ·
  • Support ongoing needs of vulnerable people to make sure their ongoing wellbeing is maintained ·
  • Direct support to those most at risk as a result of the threat of coronavirus ·
  • Ensure vulnerable people remain connected to the outside world

NB As at 01/07/20 this fund was still closed pending further funding being made available.  

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council: Funding for Community Groups - COVID-19

Funding is available in each of the District Electoral Areas to support groups providing community and social support to vulnerable and isolated persons in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area to meet the demands of COVID-19.  Applications will not be considered for the normal activities of a group (including core costs) and the focus of the work must be on at least one of the following areas:

  • · Access to food
  • · Volunteering
  • · Access to medical supplies
  • · Helpline/advice
  • · Wellbeing in isolation
  • · Communication and engagement

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Community Response Fund (Now closed)

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, with support from the Department for Communities (DfC), has introduced an emergency fund to provide grants of up to £3000 to support organisations to deliver immediate and practical support to those most vulnerable due to Covid-19. Priorities are –

  • Food poverty, and access to food arising from shielding and isolation
  • Financial hardship
  • Connectivity for those isolated
  • Support for those identified as “Vulnerable Groups” under Public Health Agency guidance

UPDATE: The funds, developed for voluntary and community groups along with faith-based organisations who are actively helping our residents stay resilient at this time, proved extremely popular and as a result have been oversubscribed.  The scheme is now closed to new applications.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council: COVID-19 Community Support Grants Scheme (Now closed except to foodbanks)

Communities across Mid and East Antrim can access critical financial support during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic situation after Council agreed a funding lifeline of £100,000 to assist its citizens.  To qualify for a grant of up to £1000 under this Scheme, applicants must be formally constituted with a current committee and based in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area.   

The current budget has been fully allocated and applications to the COVID-19 Community Grant Scheme are currently closed, but registered Community Food Banks will still be able to apply for a limited amount of funding remaining.

Mid Ulster District Council: Emergency Community Support Fund

As part of their on-going support package for the voluntary and community sector, they have opened an emergency grant programme for those organisations which are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in their local communities.  The programme offers financial support to assist constituted groups which are working in their local communities to:

  • Deliver food and essential items
  • Link to pharmacies to deliver prescriptions
  • Other emergency crisis community support

Alternative forms of local community support from NI Councils

Other Councils are supporting their communities through other means than offering open grant schemes to local organisations to help them meet the needs of residents.  See the links below for more information on what is being provided, but please note that this information does not relate to grant schemes which are open to applications.   

Currently offering funding support to 3 x local Good Morning Programmes (Antrim, Crumlin and Newtownabbey) and funding support to 45 local community groups.  Enabling effective distribution of food parcels to vulnerable people and supporting local volunteering efforts.

A free weekly Food Distribution Service has been launched for vulnerable residents with Council officers redeployed to form a Covid-19 Community Support Team.  A directory of services is also available including community and voluntary support networks, pharmacies and their operating practices as well as local businesses that offer food delivery services.  Two additional telephone support teams also now maintain contact with vulnerable people who are socially isolating and need comfort, and provide help and advice to the public, community and voluntary organisations, as well as referrals from Advice NI.

A freephone COVID-19 Belfast Community Helpline has been set up to provide advice and both practical and emotional support for Belfast City Council residents.  Food parcels are also being distributed and support is being given with deliveries of prescriptions and signposting to other local services as required.  NB As at 01/07/20 the situation with regard to food parcels was still as below -

  • Those with "shielding" letters from their GP and with no other ways of getting food, can continue to receive a weekly food parcel under the Department for Communities (DfC) Scheme until Friday 31 July 2020.
  • People to whom they have been delivering weekly food parcels will continue to receive them until the week beginning Monday 27 July.
  • New applicants to the scheme, i.e. those with a "shielding" letter but not yet registered for the weekly food parcel scheme, can telephone the Regional COVID-19 Community Helpline on 0808 802 0020. They will transfer them to the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to check eligiblity and help with other support.

The Council are using Advice NI’s Helpline to tailor local support packages for vulnerable people to be delivered by the community and voluntary sector, including Emergency Food Boxes, access to medicine and social support.   A Community Resilience Programme of £280,000 provided by Council , along with £16,000 from Derry and Strabane PCSP is supporting the community and voluntary sector effort,  with .£50,000 also having been made available in individual small grants.  Eight Local Community Planning Areas have developed Community Resilience Plans to protect those most in need.   

​A Community Coordination Hub is running to ensure vulnerable residents receive essential supplies.  County Down Rural Community Network in Downpatrick, the Confederation of Community Groups in Newry and Community Advice Newry Mourne and Down are acting as lead organisations for the community groups involved in this response.

To find out more details about the community-led response in your area, and what services are being delivered by local groups, you can also look on NICVA's website,'s picture
by Lynn Kennedy

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

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