Applications are now open for the latest round of short-term funding from the Public Health Agency for community & voluntary organisations, and we're proud to be managing those applications in a number of Health Trust areas.

Last year, one big trend in funding applications was organisations looking to adapt their activity in the face of a global pandemic and restrictions on how they would normally work. Specialisterne NI was one of those projects.

Read on to find out more...

For one applicant the 2020/21 short term funding had the unexpected effect of actually improving access to a charitable project despite lockdown restrictions.

Specialisterne NI, a community interest company that recruits and supports talented people with a diagnosis of Autism or Aspergers, reports that one potential participant in its Net Project had previously been unable to engage due to health concerns. The new Zoom-based format for its workshops, which provide a safe space for clients to practice connecting socially, was a perfect solution.

The individual, along with 31 other participants in the South Eastern, Southern, Belfast and Western Trust areas, benefitted from 101 weekly small group sessions and 104 “Take Five” one-to-one sessions. They also enjoyed 102 online special interest meetings with themes such as art, gaming, reading, photography, nature, films, music, cookery, astronomy and astrophysics.

18 participants showed a positive change on the Adult Hope scale, and several participants commented on the fact that the Net sessions something to look forward to each week as many of their other regular activities had been cancelled under government restrictions, even going so far as to call the programme a “lifeline.”