Diane Dodds MEP has just produced a new resource for churches entitled Signposts to Funding for Churches and Faith-Based Organisations. This was launched at the DUP Conference and will be available to churches very soon.
There is useful information on trusts and foundations, support for youth projects, support for international projects, and other helpful resources, as well as tips for writing a letter of application.
It also includes a short article on The Faith Sector and its role in helping government to reach those in or at risk of poverty.
The Mninister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland, believes that there is a very criticial role to be played by the faith sector in developing strategic partnerships with Government to help deliver practical approaches to tackling poverty. For this reason, the Minister funds the Faith Forum for Social Development.
He believes that working closely with partners not directly invovled in benefits advice, such as churches and faith-based groups, presents opportunities to reach those who are at risk of poverty and who could be vulnerable. Churches are a critical component in our society and are at the coal face of the issues affecting communities. No better partners exist to help Government ensure that those most in need are accessing their full entitlement to benefits and other Government services and support.
The Minister's plans for the 2012-13 Benefit Uptake Programme will test fresh approaches to reaching people with unclaimed entitlement by building new and stronger partnerships with civic, church and faith-based groups.
The Thriving Life Church in Newtownards and its Foodbank is one of a number of non-advice sector partners with which the Social Security Agency is engaging to improve benefit uptake through promotion, referrals and specific locally-run benefit uptake clinics.
Another example is Lisburn City Council's pilot Benefit Uptake Programme where all churches and faith-based groups in the Downshire electoral ward will promote benefit uptake. They will refer others needing specialist advice to clinics being held locally.
Churches operating in Neighbourhood Renewal Areas and Areas at Risk across Northern Ireland often play a very valuable role with programmes they run in such areas. Local DSD offices would be happy to discuss with local churches what assistance may be available to them for programmes directly meeting the Department's objectives in those specific areas.
Minister McCausland wants all faith-based groups to become engaged with the Department whether it is on local Neighbourhood Renewal Partnerships, benefit uptake or helping ensure the connections exist between vulnerable citizens and agencies such as the Social Security Agency or the Housing Executive. There is no cost to them and only benefits to be gained by those most in need.