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£50,000 fund opened today in Derry and Strabane to help groups providing vital community services in the local response to coronavirus

Organisations now encouraged to apply for financial support

£50,000 fund opened today in Derry and Strabane to help groups providing vital community services in the local response to coronavirus

A special fund of £50,000 will open today in Derry and Strabane to assist with the delivery of support and bolster vital community services in the local response to coronavirus.

The grants will be administered by the Community Foundation's Acorn Fund who are currently delivering the Northern Ireland wide grant scheme for COVID19 response.

The money is part of a £280,000 Resilience Programme package of advance funding announced by Derry City and Strabane District Council last week.

The investment builds on the work undertaken by Local Community Planning, neighbourhood renewal groups, rural networks and the community based volunteer initiatives that have emerged over recent weeks.

The localised fund will provide an additional £50,000 of funding to constituted community organisations throughout Derry and Strabane who wish to apply for £1,000 - £2,500 to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. The NI wide Coronavirus Community Fund will continue to provide access to grants of £5,000- £10,000 through the same funding application.

Applicants from the Derry and Strabane area are required to complete the generic NI wide application form for access to the additional £50k of localised funding allocated by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Welcoming the fund, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, urged local groups to avail of the support.

"I am delighted to see this financial support being administered so quickly as pressure on these community networks continues to grow," she declared.

"I am aware of so many initiatives across both rural and urban areas that have already been rolled out to tackle need, their resources are limited and many are relying on the support of volunteers and the public.

"This community fund will allow them to extend their services, and continue to reach out to those who need it most. The Community Fund is there to support groups and organisations working with people with a range of needs including the older community – those aged over 50; those at increased risk, particularly in relation to poor mental health and wellbeing; Vulnerable isolated people and families, particularly those living in rural areas, families where a parent/ both parents have lost their employment or where children are living in poverty; and children and young people's projects, particularly focusing on the voice of young people and connecting through creative mediums.

"I'm calling on local groups and organisations to consider if their services meet the criteria and if they could benefit from this fund. And as Mayor I want to extend my personal thanks for the vital lifeline these organisations are providing at this time of crisis.”

Acorn Fund Development and Support worker Shauna Kelpie, said efforts would focus on the swift delivery of support to sustain community resilience efforts.

"This is an emergency situation that is increasing in urgency daily and we will work with Council Community Services Officers to ensure the swift delivery of support so local service providers can deliver services in a way that best suits local communities.

"These groups have already created an extensive network on the ground, delivering food, medicine and care to the most vulnerable who are isolated and in need. We want to build on these efforts and allow these groups to do what they do best – protecting their local communities."

Any group who wishes to find out more or submit an application for the fund can go to https://communityfoundationni. org/grants/coronavirus- community-fund/

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