Health Minister Robin Swann has formally opened a £10 million fund designed to assist charitable organisations offering support services to people with mental ill health.

The Mental Health Support Fund was announced in April this year and will administer grants ranging from £5,000 to £500,000 within three award categories:

  • £5,000 to £30,000
  • £30,000 to £100,000
  • £100,000 to £500,000 (In exceptional circumstances, higher awards to charities working together to deliver a proposal may be considered).

In opening the fund, Minister Swann said:  “I am very aware of the challenges faced by many at this difficult time.  I am also very aware of how hard everyone is working in the community and voluntary sectors, to provide care and support where it is needed.

 “The Fund will equip and enable charitable organisations to provide a wide range of support services for people with mental ill health. The knowledge and experience of the community and voluntary sector is vital in the delivery of mental health services and going forward, we must provide the right tools and systems to ensure that those who need help receives the help they need.”

The Fund is being administered and managed by the Community Foundation NI and is accessible via the Community Foundation Website.

To manage demand, applications are staggered, with applications for large projects to be accepted immediately and those for smaller projects will be accepted in September 2021. Groups are invited to submit proposals on key themes including specific outcomes which are linked to improving the mental and emotional wellbeing of the population.

Orla Black, Director of Grants with the Community Foundation, said:  “We are delighted to be opening the Mental Health Support Fund today. It  will provide millions of pounds in support to community and voluntary sector organisations.  The fund will be available for three years which means that it can make an impact over a longer period of time, which we know will create a meaningful difference in the lives of many.

“Now open online, we are aiming to provide the first round of grants within a two-month period as we are really keen to get some of these monies issued and making a difference as soon as possible so they can make an impact for the people who need it most.”

The key themes outlined in the Fund harmonise with the person centred care approach outlined in the 10 year Mental Health Strategy published by the Health Minister last week. The Strategy highlights the important role of the community and voluntary sector in the development and delivery of mental health services.

The Minister said: “The Strategy seeks to fully integrate the community and voluntary sector in the development and delivery of mental health services. This recognises the good work carried out outside the statutory sector and will bring these valuable partners into the work to improve mental health outcomes.”

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