Funding workshop and seminar offers advice on grants available to parishes


Speakers attending the Funding Workshop and seminar in the Cathedral Hall Enniskillen.

An informative workshop and seminar on sources of funding for parishes and parish organisations in Clogher Diocese was held in the Cathedral Hall, Enniskillen on Tuesday, 4th June with a number of funders present to offer advice.

There was a good turnout of about 70 people representative from across the Diocese.

The funding organisations represented included the Church of Ireland’s Priorities Fund, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Ulster Community Investment Fund (UCIT) and Fermanagh Rural Community Network with further information available about Fermanagh Trust, National Churches Trust and All Churches Trust and National Lottery Community Fund.

The launch of Clogher Diocese Group Energy Purchasing Scheme also took place.

The event was introduced by the Bishop of Clogher, Right Revd John McDowell.

A number of talks were given with an outline of the funding available from the various organisations.

Roy Totten, Chairman of the Priorities Fund Committee, explained how they awarded grants totalling around £550,000 each year to parishes across Ireland where applications met the criteria for categories including lay and ordained training, Christian education, outreach initiatives and innovative ministry in a rural context. He recommended that parishes should examine the criteria from the website; . The closing date for completed applications is 31st October each year.

Louise McLaughlin, Community Services Manager with Fermanagh District Council, explained how parishes within the Council area could avail of Community Services Grants, which could help to support the running costs of a community venue, capital grants, project development, equipment grant, community festivals and fun days, summer schemes, sports events as well as Remembering and Commemorating the Decade of Centenaries.

Tommy McLaughlin, Good Relations Officer with the Council, outlined the four priority areas under the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Programme which included categories for children and young people, shared communities, safe communities and cultural expression. In addition, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Republic of Ireland awards grants through its Reconciliation Fund.

Peter Smyth from the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT), outlined the availability of loan finance to the faith sector. In the past year, the organisation has assisted 42 groups by making available loans in excess of £4.5m. Staff are available to meet with church groups to examine their projects and eligibility of loans for purchase, construction or renovation of properties, for the construction of new church halls and extensions as well as providing loans for church equipment and offering bridging funding gaps pending grant receipt.

Barry Boyle of Fermanagh Rural Community Network told those attending how they can assist applicants source funding and also help with the application process. The group has extensive experience in all types of funding.

Also speaking at the event was Clogher Diocesan Accountant, Ashley Brown, who informed parish representatives of the requirements for the Charities Commission.

The large audience of parish representatives who attended the Funding Workshop and seminar.

A Group Energy Purchasing Scheme was also launched at the event. Henry Robinson, in charge of Properties in Clogher Diocese, explained that the proposed scheme will initially deal with helping parishes to save money on electricity costs relating to their churches, halls and rectories and other buildings.

He explained how the scheme would be operated similarly to an oil buying club where members of the club enjoy the discounts offered as an incentive for people to switch providers.

The savings are made from bulk purchasing. Clogher Diocese has a large number of properties and it has been estimated that substantial savings could be made on electricity bills.

He has invited parishes to examine the scheme and once the Select Vestry has given approval, they will be asked for details of the properties where they want to avail of the new tariff. Interested parishes have been asked to submit their forms to the Clogher Diocesan Office detailing the address of each property, the name of the current supplier, the consumer number, the number of units used last year and the average annual bill for electricity, by Friday, 28 June.

The evening came to a close with thanks to all who participated by Diocesan Secretary, Glenn Moore.