Page 1

Covid Response March 2020 - December 2020

The Community Foundation would like to recognise all the groups from across Northern Ireland who stepped up during this crisis to help and protect the most vulnerable in our society. We would also like to acknowledge the organisations who contributed so promptly and generously to allow us to establish all of the covid response funds. Finally, we would like to recognise all those who have put themselves at risk and worked selflessly for the greater good during these unprecedented times.

About the Foundation

The Community Foundation Northern Ireland is a local grant making charitable trust that connects people who care with causes that matter. Matching generous people with important community causes, every year, we award grants and facilitate innovative programmes for hundreds of small charities in Northern Ireland through funds set up by and investments made by our donors.

The Coronavirus has presented a significant challenge for Northern Ireland and the voluntary and community sector. However, we are amazed at how the community and voluntary sector have stepped up to the plate, and provided a great deal of support to those most marginalised, whilst also facing their own challenges around operating within restrictions, loss of income, increasing demands on services and cash flow difficulties. In recognition of the effects of covid and fears for those most marginalised, the Community Foundation provided financial support to support those most in need. From mid-March 2020, following local lockdown, until November 2020 we awarded over ÂŁ7 million in funding, with an average award of ÂŁ5,512, to over 1,000 projects.

Coronavirus Community Fund

In March Coronavirus quickly transformed how we live our lives. Workplaces, schools, communities and individuals were forced to adapt to this rapid change and the Foundation was no different. At first older people were identified as a high-risk group and we immediately launched an ÂŁ80,000 Coronavirus Community Fund to support vulnerable older people and community groups working to support them through the crisis. However, as the virus took momentum it became apparent that many demographics were at risk and further support for grassroots communities would be needed. We worked in partnership with and through many funders and donors both public and private to broaden criteria and ensure funding and support could meet those most in need, including mobilizing organisations to set up food banks, meal distribution, fuel poverty and helpline services.

The fund closed on 26th June 2020, as priorities moved from a crisis response to a focus on supporting new ways of working, sector resilience and addressing the inequalities exposed by the pandemic.

ÂŁ2.1 Million awarded ÂŁ3,307

Average grant


Communities supported

Assessment of Need Survey

In June we emailed out all our partners and grantees an assessment of need survey. The aim of this survey was to describe and explain the needs and the challenges organisations are facing in the immediate future amidst the coronavirus outbreak and, to provide evidence of need informing why and how we should shape our funding and programme support going forward. We listened to our grantee's concerns, challenges and what action is needed to support individuals in need. The survey received 400 respondents. Here is what we learnt:

38% of groups noted that the needs of their beneficiaries have not changed but become more evident.

82% have seen a decline in their beneficiaries mental health, with 68% identifying isolation as a major change.

However, 76% have moved services online to support this. A small number indicated a decrease in engagement when their services moved online. The 3 the most pressing issues for your organisation - funding, running the service effectively and reaching beneficiaries.

New Needs Fund

As we progressed through the summer, community needs continued to change. Many were at that stage starting to adapt and innovate to find new ways of delivering services within government guidelines and restrictions. We too had to adapt our capacity-building programmes such as Techies in Residence and Community Innovators to support them to continue online. In support of these new needs, we launched a second phase fund in our response to Covid. With contributions from National Emergency Trust, Comic Relief, The Honorable The Irish Society, Bank of Ireland, Barclays Bank and many others. By Oct 2020, we had awarded a further ÂŁ1.8 million to 247 communities across NI.

ÂŁ1.8 Million awarded 247 Communities

101,207 Beneficiaries

No Child Goes Hungry - Comic Relief

The No Child Goes Hungry Fund was launched on 6th April 2020 as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis. Every child has the right to the best start in life and one way to do this is to ensure families with young children have access to healthy and nutritious food. This fund, therefore, was aimed at providing support to families who may face food poverty as a result of school closures and/or loss of household income. Grants of up to £2,500 were available. The fund closed on 3rd July 2020 and a total of £44,425 was awarded to 19 groups.


32 applications

£44,425 Awarded



Arts, Culture & Heritage Fund

With continuous lockdowns and restrictions, the arts sector was particularly hard hit. In October we launched a new £2 million supporting communitybased arts, culture and heritage projects, in partnership with the Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín. This new Programme focused on community-led responses that will enhance existing community services and activities that support engagement in arts, culture and heritage. Supporting innovation and creativity for those community organisations who support vulnerable and those marginalised in society. Through this fund, communities are encouraged to strengthen their collaborative responses encouraging adaptation, innovation and agility of the arts, culture and heritage sector, and ensuring preparedness for the future. Communities could apply for up to £20,000 of funding. Supported by the Department for Communities.



Million awarded

244 applications


Communities supported

Our Covid Journey

ÂŁ7 million awarded Over 1,000 organisations supported

Arts, Culture & Heritage Fund

November 2020

Comic Relief - No child goes hungry July 2020

New Needs Fund June 2020

Coronavirus Community Fund March 2020

Our Grantmaking Processes

In recognition of the crisis nature of the funding we endeavoured to:

Make decisions and release funding as quickly as possible – most applications were assessed and grants issued to successful applicants within one to two weeks of receipt. Be as flexible as possible with applicants – the application form was streamlined, and applicants who did not initially submit all the required documentation were given the opportunity to forward any missing items. In addition, all unsuccessful applicants were given feedback and the opportunity to re-apply. Apply due diligence to a level commensurate with the need to protect public funds, whilst also responding quickly and flexibly. Recognise changing needs by allowing applicants to submit proposals for additional support up to a maximum of £10,000. All allocated funding was released ‘up front’, with successful applicants expected to complete monitoring and evaluation reports within 3 to 4 months of award.

Longer Term Challenges

The crisis has undoubtedly shone a spotlight on deep and long standing inequalities and poverty within our society, and on the fragility of many support services. It is also evident that whilst the initial ‘emergency phase’ may have passed, a number of other crises are coming to the fore: A lot of the organisations who provided emergency support and who continue to deliver vital community services are facing a funding crisis and may not be available to help in future. The end of the furlough scheme and other government support initiatives will see a significant rise in unemployment, with associated issues around poverty, health and wellbeing. Food fuel and digital poverty are very real and increasingly concerning issues, even amongst the employed. The impact on people’s mental health is only gradually becoming evident as lockdown lifts. Educational inequalities have been exacerbated. The impact on the most marginalised and at-risk within our society is a growing concern. The effects of Brexit are only beginning to be apparent. It is still unknown how this will impact us in the longer term. We have a resilient voluntary sector but it will need further longer support and capacity building for sustainability.

Longer Term Challenges

In a bid to learn, improve and provide targeted support to the sector, the Foundation has commissioned an evaluation of its Covid-response and is in the process of setting up a new grantee network. Gillian McKee, Giraffe Associates has been appointed to undertake the project. She has been heartened by the response from VCSE organisations to date, saying: “there is a real willingness to engage and share within the sector, both between organisations and between funders and grantees. This can only be beneficial, as such collaboration will allow groups to improve and refine their approach to meeting societal needs and will help CFNI understand and respond to those needs�. We believe that this project will be key to informing the future strategic direction of the organisation. We engage with grantees regularly through the grant-making process, but not in such a coordinated, collaborative way as this project will allow. Such a network could be invaluable in helping to inform the future priorities of the funding community in Northern Ireland. It will also provide a forum to further build the capacity and skills of the VCSE sector through peer learning and sharing. Over 160 organisations have so far signed up to the Network, which will be kicked off in January and will be shaped by the views and input of members as it develops throughout 2021 and beyond.

Thank You!

Momentum Community received £12,450 towards online virtual choir performances. "Through virtual singing sessions, we feel connected to the other choir members. It’s a piece of downtime. As I tell all my choir members it’s impossible to sing and worry at the same time!’. Siobhan

ESC films received £2,500 in May towards producing a series of short films on exercise and meditation for use within care homes. "It's better than BBC, this gave me something to look forward to again!"

The Crossfire Trust received £1,695 towards providing emergency supplies (fuel, food and duvets) to 120 older people in the Darkley area of South Armagh.

Thank You!

Bready Cricket Club received a grant of £1,600 to enable them to supply hot meals to vulnerable and isolated older people. "It may sound like a cliché to call the cricket club a family, but when you see volunteers and local businesses coming together like this at a time of crisis to cook meals for the elderly and vulnerable, it certainly feels like a family to me." Boyd Rankin, Irish Cricketer

Monkstown Boxing Club received a grant of £2,420 enabling them to provide emergency food packages to vulnerable people. "In the face of the current crisis, more people than ever are relying on organisations like Monkstown Boxing Club to help them survive. Many are facing hunger for the very first time, and with the support of the Community Foundation Northern Ireland and the National Emergencies Trust funding, Monkstown Boxing Club is responding to the growing need.” Paul Johnston, Project Manager

Thank You!

Brassneck Youth Theatre Company was awarded ÂŁ8,890 to provide online theatre and performance classes for 80 children and young people in West Belfast.

Back in the game, awarded ÂŁ5,773 to promote physical and mental wellbeing among 55+ age group in the Ballymena area.

"Funding enabled us to adapt, providing one-to-one IT training for members of our community so we could keep in touch and share information. This training not only encouraged these members to keep in contact with us until such times as they feel confident enough to return to our physical program but will also add to their personal skill set, equipping them to become more aware of and integrate better into the modern online world of shopping, banking and social media communication.�Robin McClintock, Chairman.

Thank You!

Together we have ...


7 million

Supported over

1,000 communities

1 in 8 people in NI benefit Thank You! Thank you to all who donated to the Foundations Coronavirus Community Funds, there are too many to mention individually. We would also like to thank our partners who include: Department for Communities (DFC), The ARN Foundation, National Emergencies Trust, Derry & Strabane City Council, Bank of Ireland, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), The Honourable The Irish Society, Citibank, SONI, Bladon Masonic Lodge, VSB, Ulster Garden Villages, Barclays and Comic Relief.

Connecting people who care with causes that matter

@CFNIreland @CommunityFoundationforNorthernIreland @CommunityFoundationforNorthernIreland Community House City Link Business Park 6a Albert Street Belfast BT12 4HQ T : +44 (0) 28 9024 5927

Unit 4, Ráth Mór Centre Bligh’s Lane, Creggan Derry-Londonderry BT48 OLZ T : +44 (0) 28 7137 1547

Registered charity Number: NIC105105

Profile for kmcmullen-communityfoundationn

Community Foundation Covid Response  

The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland adapted immediately to the treat of Covid in March by setting up a Covid Response fund. As the...

Community Foundation Covid Response  

The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland adapted immediately to the treat of Covid in March by setting up a Covid Response fund. As the...


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded