11 May 2021
By Mary Bermingham
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD, have announced €4.5 million to support community groups and sports clubs impacted by Covid-19.
The 2021 Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) will provide small capital grants designed to assist in the re-opening of facilities such as community centres, men’s and women’s sheds, parish halls and youth centres.
Sports clubs will also be given financial support to purchase equipment and sports gear, as well as to carry out minor upgrades that will benefit its members.
The grants will range from a few hundred euro up to €10,000, however, exceptions will be made depending on the application.
The funding may be used to carry out necessary renovations and repairs or to purchase equipment such as tables and chairs, tools and signage, laptops and printers, lawnmowers, canopies and so on.
The Community Enhancement Programme, which to date has supported over 8,000 projects, places a focus on supporting groups in disadvantaged areas.
The key theme of this year’s programme is supporting groups as they their re-open facilities which have been closed due to Covid-19.
As the grants are relatively small, this programme may appeal to groups that are not eligible for the €10 million Covid Stability Fund, which was launched last week.
Announcing the funding today, Minister Humphreys said:
“This funding is about giving a helping hand to our local groups and sports clubs, which are the lifeblood of our communities.
“As we come out of Covid-19, so many of these organisations will incur specific costs relating to the re-opening of their facilities.
“This could range from purchasing a new set of tables and chairs to repairing a leak in the roof or renovating the kitchen facility.
“Sports clubs will also be supported in terms of purchasing new equipment or sports gear which will improve the experience of their members.
“These grants may be small in nature. But I know they will go a long way in helping thousands of great community organisations and clubs the length and breadth of the country.
“I would encourage all interested groups to get in touch with their Local Community Development Committee that administers the programme in their area.
“Supporting local communities to shape their future is a key focus of the Government’s new rural development policy, Our Rural Future. The funding I am announcing today will benefit every single county and ensure that important small scale, ground-up projects can be delivered by local communities for local communities.”
Also announcing the funding today, Minister O’Brien said:
“The CEP is a really practical support to smaller community groups and facilities that are active at a grassroots level. This past year has, once again, shown the importance of a vibrant Community and Voluntary sector.
“The efforts of local community groups & volunteers throughout the pandemic has been immense and, as we recover from the pandemic, we are conscious that something different is needed for many groups this year, and that is why with the CEP this year there is a focus on grants towards reopening facilities.”
The CEP was launched for the first time in 2018 by the Department of Rural and Community Development. Between 2018 and the end of 2020 the CEP has funded over 8,000 projects across the country.
The CEP was the result of the first significant exercise in the streamlining of schemes and programmes carried out by the Department of Rural and Community Development. It combined two existing schemes so that funding is now provided to improve facilities in a manner that is more flexible and responsive at a local level.
The CEP provides vital support to community groups in order to help them improve their facilities. It supports small-scale funding for projects which range from purchasing lawnmowers and IT equipment to minor renovations to buildings. Ultimately the Programme responds to local needs and therefore it also provides some funding towards larger projects where needed.
In order to allow flexibility, the Department is not setting a national closing date, but will allow each LCDC to set its own, to best suit its area. The Department will require that all closing dates are no later than 16th July 2021. Groups should check with their LCDC for further details.
For details on the 2021 funding in each Local Authority area please see the below table.