£500,000 funding boost for community halls

Communities Minister Paul Givan (right), First Minister Arlene Foster MLA and Billy Thompson, Orange Community Network at Salterstown Orange Hall, Ballyronan in Co Londonderry, for the fund announcement

Communities Minister Paul Givan (right), First Minister Arlene Foster MLA and Billy Thompson, Orange Community Network at Salterstown Orange Hall, Ballyronan in Co Londonderry, for the fund announcement

The NI Executive is to provide a £500,000 funding package to support improvement works for community halls across the Province.

The cash injection will enable community organisations in urban and rural areas to undertake minor works and improvements to their premises.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Communities Minister Paul Givan unveiled the pilot scheme at Salterstown Orange Hall, Ballyronan, outside Magherafelt in Co Londonderry.

Mrs Foster said the project would make positive changes to halls that are aged, in disrepair or have been damaged.

She added: “These halls are used by many community and voluntary organisations to provide vital services and are a place for local people to come together and strengthen relationships.

“I am confident (the funding) will improve the lives of people throughout Northern Ireland for years to come.”

Mr Givan added that the programme aimed to alleviate some of the pressures on local community groups and help to sustain and support these “vital spaces”.

“A community hall is much more than bricks and mortar for those who use them,” the minister added.

“They provide a gathering place where people can feel involved in their local community and supported in their lives.”

The community halls minor works pilot programme is intended to reach those groups and communities most in need and to make a difference and assist organisations which offer space and services to the benefit of the community.

Organisations who fit the criteria are now being urged to apply for a share in the funding pot ahead of the closing date on November 23.

Individual awards of up to a maximum of £25,000 will be made to community organisations.

Funding may be used for a range of small scale refurbishment works.

Priority will be given to applications:

• where there has been limited previous investment by central government, local councils or Lottery funds;

• are currently restricted in their use or under utilised because of disrepair;

• have been subject to recent criminal damage or result of anti-social behaviour;

• are located in areas where access to similar services is limited.

The programme is now open for applications.

Further information and applications are available at the Department of Communities website www.communities-ni.gov.uk