Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced that the Sports Hardship Fund which was designed to help clubs and organisations maintain the facilities they own or lease during the Covid restrictions, has issued awards to over 900 clubs totalling £2million.
The Sports Hardship Fund was open to sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector, which were unable to receive support from other Government Covid-19 Mitigation Funds. Applicants to the fund, which is administered by SportNI, receive grants of up to £2,000 with a further ‘top-up’ of £1,000 to help cover immediate financial commitments.
The Minister said: “This Fund has been very successful in helping grassroots sports clubs and organisations meet essential maintenance costs for facilities during the lockdown periods and when other restrictions have been necessary, it has also helped those that are experiencing hardship due to the increased costs of ‘block booking’ facilities they hire.
“The funding awards have provided crucial cash flow while the clubs have had limited or no activities. The awards recognise the important role that sport has to play in helping communities to get through this crisis and to help society come out of the lockdown period. The grants will help sustain clubs and put them in a good position to offer communities and individuals access to sport and physical activities as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The Sports Hardship Fund is complemented by the Covid Safe PPE Sports Packs Project which aims to assist Sports clubs with the provision of a Covid safe environment when the time is right for activities to recommence. To date over £800K in Sport Packs have issued to clubs.
The Minister also confirmed that the assessment of applications from the sport sector to the £25M Sports Sustainability Fund is on track.