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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Unpaid carers are the backbone of society - Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann with, from left, George McDowell, his mother and carer Emma McDowell, and Siofra Healy, Community Foundation.

Health Minister Robin Swann has given further details of a £4.4million scheme to support unpaid carers.

The grant scheme, entitled the Support for Carers Fund, will be administered and managed by Community Foundation NI and will be open to community and voluntary sector organisations with charitable purposes offering support to carers and operating within Northern Ireland.

In launching the scheme, Minister Swann said:

“I am delighted to announce £4.4m which will provide support for charities working for and with unpaid carers in recognition of the significant impact that Covid-19 has had on them and those they care for. Unpaid carers are the backbone of society, supporting and caring for many that may otherwise struggle without that help.

“The role of unpaid carers can often go unrecognised and this funding will provide much needed help and support at a time when many have increased their caring role during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am full of admiration for carers and their tremendous dedication. They make many sacrifices and it's right that they should be given our support and thanks for all they do.”

The allocation has been funded from one-off Covid emergency monies made available to the Department of Health.

The Support for Carers Fund will seek to deliver the following outcomes:

a) Enhanced provision of and access to practical supports and help for carers.

b) Improved access to and availability of advice services for carers, including support available through new technologies.

c) Enhanced skills of carers to advocate for the needs of both themselves and the person they care for.

d) Support for improved physical and mental health and wellbeing of carers.

e) Enhanced ability for carers to lead their own lives and enjoy a work/life balance.

f) Increased capacity to advocate for and advance carers’ issues with Government and statutory bodies.

g) Raised awareness of the contribution of carers.

h) Improved evidence base on carers to support and inform service provision, and Government strategy.

The Community Foundation will engage with carers and those working at the community level to ensure funding reaches the areas of need in Northern Ireland. The fund is expected to formally open within the next few months through the Community Foundation website.

Commenting on the Fund, Siofra Healy, Director of Philanthropy at the Community Foundation explained:

We are delighted to be managing this much-needed fund for carers. In the past 12 months, we have been working closely with Departments to ensure swift support reaches areas of need enabling communities to significantly enhance their services at this time, and that is our focus via this fund.

“We are proud to be working with the Department once again to support communities in need, and grateful that they fully recognise our close trusted links with community groups and our ability to connect and deliver funding where it can make an immediate impact at grassroots level. We look forward to supporting carers with this fund.”

The £4.4m has been made available from the Department’s Covid allocation. The Fund will involve several ‘calls’ for applications over the next year and is only open to organisations in the community and voluntary sector or with charitable status.

The Community Foundation Northern Ireland is a local grant-making charitable trust that connects people who care with causes that matter. The Foundation has 40 years of experience matching generous people with important community causes, every year, awarding grants and facilitating innovative programmes for hundreds of small charities in Northern Ireland through funds set up by and investments made by our donors. To find out more visit:


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