Minister for Social Development, Mervyn Storey MLA, has met with local volunteers to mark the success of this year’s £600,000 Volunteering Small Grants Programme.
The Volunteering Small Grants Programme provides grants of between £200 and £1,200 to help organisations throughout Northern Ireland recruit and support volunteers.
Speaking about the innovative programme, Minister Storey said: “I am delighted with the great success of this year’s Small Grants Programme. 689 groups have received grants, and though they may be small in monetary terms, these grants have a big impact on organisations, ensuring they can fully support their existing volunteers while seeking to recruit new ones.”
The overall aim of the Volunteering Small Grants Programme is to increase diversity within volunteering in Northern Ireland, based on four objectives:
to increase volunteer activity by groups under-represented in the volunteering population, including people not in paid work;
to increase the number of new volunteers;
to promote innovative methods of recruiting new volunteers; and
to promote innovative methods of engaging with and supporting both new and existing volunteers.
To be eligible, organisations must be formally constituted and must have an annual income not exceeding £100,000 per year.
The Minister continued: “It was a pleasure to meet the volunteers today and hear about the vital work they do in the community. All eligible groups who applied have received some funding and I wish them all well in their efforts to support and expand their work.”
The contract to deliver the Volunteering Small Grants Scheme is being administered by Limavady Community Development Initiative LTD acting as lead partner for the Association of Independent Volunteer Centres (AIVC).
Commenting of the volume of small grants applications, AIVC Chairman, Mr George Shiels MBE said: “We are delighted with the diversity and geographical spread of the groups and by the number of new-comers to the programme.
“Our Small Grants team are anticipating matching the target set in the previous round of creating 4,000 new volunteers via the programme. This will surely bode well for community groups throughout Northern Ireland. We would like to thank the Department for Social Development for their support for Volunteering Small Grants. It has proved invaluable to hundreds of organisations across Northern Ireland by providing financial support to them.”