Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has launched the 2014/15 Small Grants programme for local volunteering groups.
Organisations across east Antrim can now apply for grants of between £200 and £1500 to help recruit and support volunteers.
A total of £600,000 is available.
The announcement follows the success of the 2013/14 programme which was quickly oversubscribed.
Minister McCausland said: “Last year we saw a tremendous response to our call for grant applications with some 600 organisations receiving funding – double the number we had anticipated.
“Given this response to the call for applications, I was able to raise the original budget for this programme from £600,000 to just under £1million.
“I am pleased to launch the second call for the Volunteering Small Grants Programme which again will have an initial budget of £600,000.
“I am confident that we can match the success again this year and I would encourage eligible groups to apply for funding as soon as possible.”
The overall aim of the scheme is to increase diversity within volunteering in NorthernIreland.
There are four key objectives:
• to increase volunteer activity by groups under-represented in the volunteering population, including people not in paid work;
• to increase numbers of new volunteers;
• to promote innovative methods of recruiting new volunteers;
• to promote innovative methods of engaging with and supporting both new and existing volunteers.
To be eligible organisations must be constituted and must not have an annual income exceeding £100,000 per year.
To celebrate the success of phase 1 of the Department for Social Development’s Volunteering Small Grants Programme, Minister McCausland met with a number of volunteering organisations to present them with letters of offer for a phase 1 small grant.
He said: “Volunteers play an important role in our communities and through their hard work and commitment they enrich our society.
“My Department is fully committed to supporting them and these grants can provide a lifeline to small organisations for which every penny counts.
“As well as day to day running costs, the grants can be used towards volunteers’ expenses increasing the chances of both recruiting and retaining volunteers during these difficult financial times.
“I would like to congratulate Limavady Community Development Initiative Ltd, who acting as lead partner for the Association of Independent Volunteer Centres (AIVC), are responsible for administering the Volunteering Small Grants programme.
“The success of phase 1 of the programme is recognised across Northern Ireland and I am confident that phase 2 will be equally successful.”
Chairman of AIVC Mr Damien Corr said: “The first call for Volunteering Small Grants was a really positive initiative which promoted volunteering in Northern Ireland and credit shouldbe given to our volunteering partners throughout Northern Ireland.
“In phase 2 we intend to build on our existing networks to ensure that even more volunteering organisations canbenefit from these grants. I would encourage all organisations that work with volunteers to apply.”
AIVC’s Small Grants Officer Johnny McShane said: “It is humbling to see the amount of innovative volunteering going on at grass roots level in the towns, villages and cities of Northern Ireland.”
He said the funding was a great opportunity for groups.
For more details on the Small Grants scheme and to download an application pack go to www.aivcni.co.uk