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Dormant Accounts – What we’ve been hearing

December 4, 2019

We launched the consultation on Dormant Accounts funding in October and have been out and about ever since listening to the Northern Ireland Third Sector.

Since October, we have hosted three major events in Belfast, Enniskillen and Craigavon – 280 people attended to tell us what they think.

As well as this, we’ve hosted, facilitated or taken part in 16 roundtable discussions with over 200 people and have received 22 written submissions as well as hundreds of emails, phone calls and conversations.

We promised that we would share what we are hearing throughout the consultation so this blog highlights some of the key themes coming through the conversations. We would love to hear back from you on what you think of what we’re hearing so far.

It’s important to reiterate that Dormant Accounts funding is not the same as National Lottery funding.

The policy directions state that this funding ‘should benefit the third sector in Northern Ireland, through projects/work primarily delivered by Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations to increase capacity, grow resilience and encourage sustainability’.

This list isn’t exhaustive but gives a sense of some of the things we’re hearing throughout the consultation.

Strategic Planning 

Leaders across the sector are rarely funded and don’t have the time to lift their heads to think about and plan for the future.

Could Dormant Accounts funding help fill that gap and help to build a sustainable sector in the future?

Governance  

There is a need to strengthen boards, committees and governance structures, ensuring the right mix of skills and training, putting all the appropriate policies and procedures in place to support an organisations’ purpose and activities.

Again, this is rarely funded but could investing in this help develop a more resilient sector? 

Income generation 

Organisations should be supported to take time to consider options for diversifying their income and/or reducing reliance on public funding, ensuring all their work fits with their core purpose – rather than chasing project funding which can often lead to mission drift.

Would funding for this allow organisations to think longer term and be more sustainable?

Capacity building and Skills 

We should recognise that there is a lack of understanding of the different social investment and finance options out there, as well as the other skills needed to translate vision and good ideas into action.

How would building this kind of capacity within the sector lead to its sustainability?

Volunteers 

The sector needs to be supported to strengthen its volunteer bases, including attracting young people, providing pathways into leadership alongside appropriate training and recognised qualifications.

How could Dormant Accounts funding support this to help build sustainability and resilience within the sector? 

Connectedness

With our own funding, we have seen there is lots to learn from other organisations operating in the same area or working on the same issues, but a culture of competition hinders collaboration.

How could investing in activities that connect organisations, not collaboration for collaboration’s sake, help build up capacity in the sector? 

Digital skills and Communications 

We’re hearing there isn’t enough time to focus on providing staff and volunteers with appropriate digital tools and skills to make them fit for the future. Alongside this, there is no capacity for organisations to develop the communications skills needed to tell the story of the amazing work they do to a wider audience.

Could funding aimed at digital skills and communications help build a more resilient sector? 

We would love to hear what you think about these questions as well as any other thoughts you might have. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Join us at our last event in Derry-Londonderry on 12th December at 9.45am in the Guildhall – register your attendance by email

Dormant Accounts Fund – Weekly Update

November 22, 2019

We’re now half-way through our consultation on the Dormant Accounts Fund and are continuing to hear a wide range of views from people and organisations across Northern Ireland.

We promised to share what we’re hearing as we go along, not just at our events and roundtable discussions but via email, on the phone and in conversation. Being as open and transparent as we can is the best way to hear all the great ideas out there and make sure we this money has the biggest impact possible.

Below is a quick summary of what we’ve heard over the last week or so and what we’re planning to do in the coming weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Most of the queries we have received have been about our consultation events but we also got some other questions.

People have been asking about the closing date of the consultation which we have said is the end of December.

Our office is closed from Christmas Eve but people can still submit responses and ideas up until early January. However, our last external events will be 18th December 2019.

We’re hearing questions about how this funding can support specific projects.

At this point we are still open to how the sector can define and interpret the guidelines set out by the Department of Finance – namely increase capacity, grow resilience and encourage sustainability.

We have updated our website with a new FAQs section which should help.

As well as this, we’re planning a series of blogs on some of the issues arising from the consultation. If there is a theme or idea you’d like more detail or background on, get in touch.

Events

This week we held events in Lisburn, Newry and Inner South Belfast.

We have a busy week ahead with discussions and events all over Northern Ireland.

Our next main consultation event will be in Enniskillen at the Killyhevlin Hotel on Wednesday 27th at 09:30.

As well as this, we’re hosting roundtable discussions with Social Enterprise NI, The IFA, Disability Action, Rural Community Network and in Strabane alongside Derry and Strabane District Council.

A lot of our events are at or near capacity but there are still some places available for our event in Derry at the Guildhall on 12th December.

We know that while we want Dormant Accounts funding to meet the needs of a diverse sector, it cannot be all things to all people. So with that in mind we want to know what are the two or three main things Dormant Accounts funding could do that would have the greatest impact?

And if Dormant Account funding achieved its aims of increased resilience, capacity and sustainability, what would the third sector look like in five years’ time?

We would love to hear your feedback on these questions and those outlined in the consultation framework. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Come along to one of our events – To book a place, email us at least one week before your preferred event. Please let us know if you have any specific access or dietary requirements. We still have space at the following events:
    • Enniskillen, Killyhevlin Hotel – 27thNovember – 9.30-1.30
    • Craigavon, Civic Centre – 2ndDecember – 12.30-4.30
    • Derry-Londonderry, Guildhall – 12thDecember – 9.30-1.30
  • If you want to bring people from your area or sector together then you can organise a roundtable event. Please let us know, and we can come along to facilitate this.

Get in touch if you’d like to attend or get involved.

Celebrating 25 years of National Lottery with Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum

November 11, 2019

For the past two years, The National Lottery Community Fund team in Northern Ireland have been out visiting groups across Northern Ireland more than ever before. We had the opportunity to

visit Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum (NSCF) earlier this year to join in with their celebrations for 25 years of the National Lottery.

NSCF received just under £250,000 funding, raised by National Lottery players, for their +Five-0 And On The Go project. The project reduces social isolation and improves mental health and wellbeing for people over the age of 50 in the Newtownabbey and Antrim area. They have various activities running weekly that range from bowling and boccia to walking clubs and line dancing.

To mark the quarter of a century celebrations, NSCF held a very special bowling tournament at Lilian Bland Pavilion in Glengormley. Joanie Arthurs, Mark Baine, Jerome Grace and Bronagh Diamond (otherwise known as team Crossed Fingers) from our office stopped by to join in.

40 people from seven different groups divided into seven teams to compete in a friendly (but competitive) games of bowls. Bronagh Diamond, Communications Officer for The National Lottery Community Fund, told us:

“There was a lovely celebratory atmosphere, and everyone was in great spirits. The sun was also shining which is a rarity for Northern Ireland. After the first matches were played, everyone got together for some tea and cake and a good chat. It was amazing to hear how much of a difference NSCF’s work has made to people’s lives.”

Telling us more about the project and the impact it has on people’s lives, Robert McQuiston, Project Coordinator, said;

“The funding we receive not only enables us to change lives but, in some cases, save them.

“The result of taking part in our project has not only had a positive effect on the physical health of our participants but also their self-esteem, social life and general wellbeing.

 

“We have also had feedback from family members and friends of our participants saying how it has been a great relief to them, removing the stress of worry and knowing that the project is having such a positive effect and seeing the changes it has made to their mother, father, friend etc.

“To celebrate the National Lottery’s 25th Anniversary we organised a Bowling Tournament in Lilian Bland Park Bowling Pavilion. The event was support by teams from Antrim, Randalstown, Newtownabbey and a representative team from The National Lottery Community Fund.

 

Big thanks from all of our participants to the National Lottery Players, without whom projects like ours would not be possible.”

If you are interested in finding out more about Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum and the +Five-0 And On The Go project visit their website.

Dormant Accounts – What we’ve heard so far

November 6, 2019

We launched the consultation on Dormant Accounts funding three weeks ago and have been impressed by the positive reaction to the news and how many of you have been in touch.

We’re delighted that many organisations from across Northern Ireland have already registered to attend our consultation events and we’ve received almost 30 offers to host and convene roundtable events for specific organisations and sectors.

These sessions started in late October and more are planned between now and Christmas.

We’re already seeing the breadth and diversity of the VCSE Sector reflected in the conversations we’re having and the responses we’ve received to date.

Here’s a flavour of what we’ve heard so far:

  • We’ve heard a lot about the challenges presented by one-year funding and how securing funding for longer than this could help many organisations.
  • There’s no clear picture yet on how large or small grants should be – although we’re hearing more from organisations about the need for smaller, more flexible grants for three to five years.
  • We appreciate that we need to explore various funding models to ensure that Dormant Accounts can achieve its aim to support a resilient and sustainable sector. Many of our conversations to date have touched on this – with mixed views on grants versus loans and how much funding should be made available through each. We’re continuing to listen to your feedback and insights on this issue.
  • We’ve received positive feedback about our ability to assess and manage grants made under the Dormant Accounts Fund.
  • We’ve also heard that flexibility is needed in terms of what the money can be used for – some responses have talked about the challenges some organisations face when there are funding restrictions around salaries. We’re also hearing a bit about staff/volunteer burnout in organisations that feel they are constantly ‘firefighting’.

It’s important to reiterate that Dormant Accounts funding is not the same as National Lottery funding. The policy directions state that this funding ‘should benefit the third sector in Northern Ireland, through projects/work primarily delivered by Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations to increase capacity, grow resilience and encourage sustainability’.

We’ve also been asked if statutory bodies such as Councils can apply. While VCSE organisations need to apply and be the lead in any applications to the Fund, they can work in partnership with statutory or private bodies.

We will continue to discuss all these points over the next few weeks. But there are a few areas that we want to explore in more detail.

Next steps

We know that while we want Dormant Accounts funding to meet the needs of a diverse sector, it cannot be all things to all people.

So with that in mind, we want to know what are the two or three main things Dormant Accounts funding could do that would have the greatest impact?

And if Dormant Account funding achieved its aims of increased resilience, capacity and sustainability, what would the third sector look like in five years’ time?

We would love to hear your feedback on these questions and those outlined in the consultation framework.

Here’s how you can get involved: · Review the framework and share your views, thoughts and comments – send them to us at dormantaccountsni@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk

Come along to one of our events – To book a place, email us at least one week before your preferred event.

Please let us know if you have any specific access or dietary requirements.

We still have space at the following events:

  • Enniskillen, Killyhevlin Hotel – 27th November – 9.30-1.30
  • Craigavon, Civic Centre – 2nd December – 12.30-4.30
  • Derry-Londonderry, Guildhall – 12th December – 9.30-1.30

If you want to bring people from your area or sector together then you can organise a roundtable event. Please let us know, and we can come along and help make this happen.

You can find out more on the Dormant Accounts Fund page of our website – https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/dormant-accounts-fund

Customers get together for fun “market stall” event in Limavady

October 24, 2019

“Good event, enjoyed the friendly informal atmosphere.”  “This was excellent, more of this would be great.”  “Great session all round!”

This is just some of the positive feedback we received after our recent “market stall” event, held for National Lottery Community Fund grant holders in the Causeway Coast & Glens, Derry & Strabane and Mid & East Antrim council areas.  Based on what the grant holders told us – they wanted to meet up with other groups to share learning and make connections – we organised an event to enable them to do this.

WIN_20191004_13_25_15_ProOver 65 organisations were invited to attend an event in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady.  They were offered the opportunity to host a “market stall” where they could showcase their work.  Again based on grant holder feedback we held a session on evaluation and how to showcase your project and highlight its impact.

We had a number of excellent keynote speakers from funded projects, who talked about their work and highlighted the many inventive ways they have found to effectively carry out evaluation.  Garvagh Development Trust and On Street Community Youth each shared their amazing films, both of which brilliantly highlight the impact of their work.

Catherine Taylor from Be Safe Be Well gave a really moving talk on how they try to capture the impact of their Men’s Shed.  Whilst it is easy to showcase their amazing creations, it can be difficult to capture the greatest impact, that of improved mental health.  She described how they have found ways to do this by using things like Becks Depression Inventory, personal testimonies, videos and blogs.

WIN_20191004_13_26_25_ProThere were also some expert tips and advice on evaluation from our Knowledge and Learning team.  Our website has a new Insights & Evidence Library where you can search and access reports and evaluations from other grant holders across the Fund.

We would love for grant holders to send us their learning so we can share it! Current topics we’d particularly appreciate learning on include:

  • loneliness
  • climate change; &
  • youth voice.

A top tip on evaluation came from Eileen McKibbin who talked about the importance of evidence being useful to the organisations themselves and how evaluation should focus on what matters to them and not try and fit it into “a box” of what they think the funder wants.

Speaking about the event, Michele Loughrey from Causeway Rural Urban Network (CRUN) said: “It was a super event, we met lots of new groups accessing funding and we have made a few links already to develop initial contacts from the day.  Many thanks for organising.”

Karin Eyben from Garvagh Development Trust who gave a really insightful presentation on how they have developed some innovative ways of evaluating their project said: “I was just blown away by the diversity of what has been funded, with a common theme of investing and trusting in creative ideas and fantastic people. Definitely do that again.”

And as we are coming up to the National Lottery’s 25th birthday, we couldn’t resist taking a crossed finger selfie to say thanks to all the National Lottery players!

WIN_20191004_12_53_09_Pro (4)

We would love you to get involved with our crossed finger selfie on Tuesday 29th October too.  Here’s how you can:

  • Gather a few people together and take a selfie with everyone posing with crossed fingers. You may want to get a few volunteers, staff, community members together.
  • Write a short message thanking National Lottery players for supporting your group to do the fantastic work you do. Include the hashtag: #NationalLottery25
  • On Tuesday 29thOctober, post your message and crossed fingers selfie on your social media channels.

Please remember to tag us in your posts!

Facebook: @TNLCommunityFundNorthernIreland 

Twitter: @TNLComFundNI