Ireland Funds extends grants scheme
Hundreds of Irish charities and community groups will benefit after the Ireland Funds yesterday started a campaign which sees its fundraising target increase from $100 million (€75.6 million) to $140 million.
“Small Grants, Big Difference” is an extension of the $100-million, five-year “Promising Ireland” campaign launched in 2009. Inviting Irish individuals and businesses to donate, the fund will assist organisations offering support in the areas of disadvantaged youth, mental health, education, the elderly, peace and reconciliation and the effects of the recession.
Supported by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) and The Irish Times, the Ireland Funds has set itself a target to raise $1 million a month until the end of 2013, through donations of between €2,500 and €20,000.
Fifteen organisations in the Republic and Northern Ireland are already benefiting from the fund. A centre for families in south Co Dublin is one of the first to be supported by the increased fund. Based in Loughlinstown, the Barnardos Family Resource Centre aims to tackle disadvantage there. Supported by Ireland Funds money to run preschool and after-school groups and parent-support workshops, the centre is assisting families to change their lives for the better.
North of the Border, the Ardoyne Holy Cross Boxing Club is another beneficiary. With high rates of suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland, particularly among young men, the club for members ranging in age between seven and 20 aims to keep them off the streets and out of trouble.
The club also provides classes for women.
In the west of Ireland, older people experiencing isolation and loneliness are benefiting from the Lunch Club. The club, founded by Galway charity Cope, has provided 50,000 customised meals to older people. A grant from the fund has enabled a Cope community worker extend the club to three additional communities.
Fund money is also helping grow the Irish “men’s sheds” movement. The Irish Men’s Shed Association promotes and supports the development of community sheds to act as workshops and meeting places for men, thereby tackling health decline, loneliness and depression.
Ireland Funds support will start up to five new sheds in smaller towns.
Training assistance dogs for people with autism, limited sight or those who require help with balance, the charities Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and Irish Dogs for the Disabled are also beneficiaries.
Providing childcare for 267 children aged up to 12, the Darndale Belcamp Integrated Childcare Service provides high-quality, safe and affordable care.
With Ireland Fund money, 1,100 sessions with a counsellor for children and families experiencing bereavement, domestic violence and other serious issues can be offered.
Ireland Funds chairman Hugo MacNeill said that at a time of great need for both resources and solidarity, the fund could match donors to projects that can make a real difference.
“We are backing extraordinary people making a real impact all across the island of Ireland,” he said. “This initiative enables businesses and people in Ireland to play a positive role in rebuilding our communities and our country.”
Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy said the fund was a practical way for businesses and individuals to bring about change. “These projects will make real differences and real impacts to the lives of individuals and to our society,”he said.
Kevin O’Sullivan, editor of The Irish Times, said the newspaper would seek to highlight many of the significant projects helped by donors to the fund.
The Worldwide Ireland Funds, of which the Ireland Funds is part, is a philanthropic network operating in 12 countries. It has raised more than $430 million for worthy causes in Ireland and around the world.