Refurbishment fund of £500k for community halls across Northern Ireland
A £500,000 cash fund has been announced for refurbishments to community halls across Northern Ireland.
The money from the Department for Communities will benefit Orange halls, GAA halls, scout halls and church halls.
It will also include others that are used for community-based organisations.
The funding — where the maximum grant awarded will be £25,000 — will be available in rural and urban areas. It will be used to undertake minor works and improvements to community hall premises.
Priority will be given to those subjected to recent criminal damage or those under-used because of disrepair.
Announcing the funding, Communities Minister Paul Givan said: “A community hall is much more than bricks and mortar for those who use them.
“They provide a gathering place where people can feel involved in their local community and supported in their lives.
“This pilot programme aims to alleviate some of the pressures on local community groups and will help to sustain and support these vital spaces.”
Funding may be used to help with minor works such as small-scale renovation, alteration to mechanical and electrical services or work required to meet health and safety standards such as CCTV, alarm systems and disability access.
First Minister Arlene Foster said the buildings were used by many community and voluntary organisations to provide vital services and were places for local people to come together and strengthen relationships.
She said: “I welcome this funding that will make positive change to halls that are aged, in disrepair or have been damaged.
“I am confident it will improve the lives of people throughout Northern Ireland for years to come.”
The Orange Order welcomed the funding.
A spokesperson said: “The Orange Institution provides approximately 750 halls across the province which are used by a wide variety of community groups.
“The activities carried out in these halls provide a social lifeline to many otherwise isolated rural communities.
“Government assistance for such vital community facilities is to be welcomed; particularly when Orange property continues to be targeted in sectarian attacks, with 33 incidents so far this year alone, including the destruction of Salterstown Orange Hall.
“It is therefore a pleasing priority that it is to be given to applications where buildings have been subject to recent criminal damage.
“We would encourage all lodges and associated groups, who meet the appropriate criteria, to utilise such funding for the betterment of their local communities.”