Coronavirus: Stormont launch £500,000 sports Hardship Fund

'More support may be needed in the time ahead' - Hargey

A £500,000 Hardship Fund has been launched for the sports sector by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.

Sports clubs and organisations which are unable to receive support from other Government Covid-19 funds are able to apply to Sport NI.

The grant of £2,000 will help with "immediate financial commitments to maintain their facilities" during the coronavirus restrictions.

Minister Hargey said sport had a "crucial role" in helping communities.

Last month, Ciaran Kearney, executive manager of the NI Sports Forum, said he feared the coronavirus pandemic could impact the future of sports clubs and had called on the Stormont Executive to provide funding.

On the same day, Hargey announced plans to introduce a Hardship Fund to help sports clubs and organisations in the voluntary and community sector, with the details of the scheme have now been revealed.

Sports clubs across NI have been forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic
Sports clubs across Northern Ireland have been forced to shut because of the coronavirus pandemic

Minister Hargey admitted clubs are "facing serious financial challenges" as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions and an initial budget of £500,000 has been allocated up to 30 June.

"This Fund will provide a grant of £2,000 per application and will help eligible sports clubs and sporting organisations to meet essential costs which still need to be paid, even when their facilities are closed," she said.

"I want to ensure that, over the next three months, that there is help available to cover costs such as rent, essential utility bills and to assist with the cost of basic maintenance of outdoor sports facilities."

The Minister continued: "Sport will have a crucial role to play in helping communities to get through this crisis and to help society come out of the lockdown period.

"It is therefore essential that sporting organisations and clubs are in a position to offer communities and individuals access to sport and physical activities as soon as it is safe to do so.

"We are conscious that more support may be needed in the time ahead. Hopefully in the coming weeks and months we can see more resources put into the sporting organisations here."

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