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COVID-19 Update March 31st 2020

Staff at Development Trusts NI will be working from home until further notice as recommended by the Public Health Agency.

We will be responding to emails and continuing to represent the interests of our members and the wider community and voluntary sector.

We will also be video conferencing regularly.

The office phones are set to voicemail but you can contact us in the following ways:

Charlie Fisher, Programme Manager – – 07595979642

Stevie McGirr, Communications Officer – – 07793865620

Kathleen Smyth, Community Asset Transfer Project Officer – – 07450954349

Margaret Craig, Creating Resilient Local Economies Project Officer – – 07764185318

We can also be contacted on Twitter @devtrustsni

Other Communications


A new private DTNI Member Facebook group has been created as a forum where we can share ideas, links to resources, or just have a chat. For our part, we will keep you posted with relevant news from the sector and share the emerging practice from our sister networks in England, Scotland & Wales.

Join the DTNI Member Facebook Group

Virtual meetings

There are so many different options out there; recently we have tested SkypeGoogle Hangouts and Workplace Chat, but for simplicity and functionality, Zoom is hard to beat. There is a free package available, but it will restrict you to a 40-minute meeting.  The Pro subscription is priced at $14.99 per month and allows an unlimited number of meetings, with up to 100 attendees for an unlimited length of time. If you need help with your virtual meeting options, contact Stevie to answer any initial questions, or even for an online tutorial.

Guidance for Foreign Nationals

Doctors of the World has produced Covid-19 guidance for patients in 21 languages. This includes: English, Albanian, Dari, French, Pashto, Portuguese, Bengali, Vietnamese, Kurdish Sorani, Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese, Malayalam, Turkish and Farsi. Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali and Arabic coming soon!

Funding & additional financial support

Many funders, including The National Lottery Community Fund have confirmed that they are relaxing restrictions and reporting requirements on all funding until further notice. For general information about this and how to apply for additional funding check the NICVA website.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

A UK government initiative will provide up to 80% of  the cost of retaining staff who would otherwise have had to be laid off because of the coronavirus. More information here. You can download a draft furlough letter to staff here.

Discretionary Support Scheme

The Department for Communities will provide further grant assistance to this scheme to assist with short-term living expenses where a person, or a member of their immediate family, has been infected by COVID-19 or told to self-isolate. There is no limit on the amount of an individual award, which will be calculated based on individual circumstances. Check the DfC website for details.

Coronavirus Community Fund

A reminder, if you are not receiving their mail-outs, that the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland has created a new Coronavirus Community Fund  to help with those supporting the elderly or dealing with emerging issues. Check the CFNI website for more details.

The DfC has announced that it will provide £200,000 match funding to this fund. For more details, check the DfC website.

Community Support Grant Scheme (mid & east Antrim) 

This scheme is now open to all constituted groups across the mid & east Antrim borough. Grants are in addition to the usual two grants per annum available to community groups.

Groups will be asked to work in partnership where possible, to ensure a fair and equitable geographical reach and to avoid duplication of effort. 

Full details of the scheme are available on the Council Funding Hub at

More information on other sources of advice and support can be found on Council’s dedicated Coronavirus Covid-19 web page at

Information for Businesses

Cash grants are to be made available via NI Direct, and Account NI making the payments directly into your account. The aim is to have this up and running by the end of week commencing 30th March. To be absolutely clear, there are a few potential gaps in the scheme: (i) businesses that are premises-based but who pay rates as part of a rent/rates package to landlord or businesses who pay rent for shared spaces (ii) registered charities. The Department of the Economy has promised clarity in the next few days.

Self-Employed / Sole Traders:

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme provides cash grants worth 80% of applicants’ average monthly trading profit over the last three years (up to £2500). The scheme also applies to partnerships.

HMRC will use the average trading profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to determine the size of the grant. Self-employed people will still be able to access other available government support for those affected by coronavirus while the await their grant award.

Further information and details of the scheme will be shared shortly by HMRC.

Information for Local Enterprise Agencies

Generally accepted best practice across the LEA network is as follows:

  • stay in regular contact with tenant businesses, offering guidance and signposting specifically on Covid-19 support schemes;
  • remind tenant businesses you are there to do as much as you can whilst sustaining your own organisation (possibly indicate that you, as a self-funding, charitable, social enterprise are managing major challenges also);
  • remind businesses of the significant support that is imminently available. All the measure listed below will apply to majority of LEA tenants.
    1. £10k cash grant
    2. Staff Retention Scheme, for furloughed staff
    3. 25% Rates reduction in 2020/21
    4. All VAT due payments deferred to July 2020 ( deferred amounts paid by end of year)
    5. ‘Time to Pay’ agreements with HMRC for VAT, PAYE, Income Tax ( if experiencing cashflow problems)
    6. Business Interruption Loans (requires a proposal with solid assumptions around future cashflow)

Other Information


Some of you may rely on volunteers and will have noticed a rapid decline in numbers of the last few weeks. On the other hand, there is a lot of good work being done out there and many individuals have made themselves available to help their community.
Volunteer Now is part of a  Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Leadership Group  which is looking at resources needed relating to volunteering in the current crisis. Check out their website to download the info sheets.

Working from home

Download a draft Working from Home Policy here. This is unfamiliar territory for many, so hopefully this will be a useful starting point for your board.