Nearly £1 million of PHA funding supporting communities across Northern Ireland

short term funding graphic

Despite the difficulties coronavirus has caused this year, there are over 335 projects in communities across Northern Ireland that have benefited from over £975,000 investment by the Public Health Agency (PHA). 

This investment has been the result of a short-term funding programme to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of communities, with thousands of participants of all ages and backgrounds benefitting.

The short-term funding programme has awarded grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 and have enabled community and voluntary sector groups to implement small-scale programmes within communities.

The investment has provided direct support in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities and demonstrated how they could contribute to building capacity, emotional resilience and mental and emotional wellbeing.  

Fiona Teague, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing lead at PHA, said: “Given the challenging environment that we have been experiencing with the impact of COVID-19, we wanted to respond quickly to help ensure wellbeing in our communities. The Public Health Agency was keen to fund programmes the communities that had a particular focus on those using one or more of the ‘Take 5’ Steps to Wellbeing’.  These are five simple steps that we can build into our daily lives to maintain and improve wellbeing – Connect, Be active, Keep learning, Give and Take Notice.

“The breadth, creativity and ingenuity of the projects is truly inspiring, and the groups’ commitment to creating then executing their ideas in these challenging times makes this even more impressive.”

“In the Southern area alone, 49 projects supported through the funding programme benefited from over £172,035.

“They included a project in the Dungannon area from Tyrone Scouts called ‘Full Esteem Ahead’, a six week art programme designed to build the self-esteem of 11-15 year olds, in turn helping to build their resilience and confidence. This was expanded to offer related workshops to adult volunteers and parent groups.”

In Belfast, one of the successful projects came from Counselling All Nations (CANS) Mental and Physical Wellbeing COVID-19 Recovery Project. It offered remote online befriending and mentoring for members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities to promote self-help skills.

Within the Northern Area, a number of excellent projects were successful, including Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network (CWSAN) and its STEPS project. Their project provided opportunities to improve mental and physical health and reduce isolation through face to face classes where COVID-19 restrictions allowed, whilst also ensuring those who were medically shielding could continue to view the class online. They also supported those who have been affected by suicide as well as the pandemic by connecting people often living in a rural setting, back into their community.

‘Song for the Soul’ within the Western area provides choral singing activity for adults with a diagnosed severe and enduring mental illness. Participants sing together and have a recorded CD and perform at community events.

To find out more about how the PHA’s short term funding programme has provided the opportunity for community and voluntary groups to build mental and physical resilience and to help people cope better during and after the COVID-19 pandemic see:

The projects outlined demonstrate how the PHA’s short-term funding programme has provided the opportunity for community and voluntary groups to build mental and physical resilience and to help people cope better during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further information on future short-term funding programmes will be available directly from the PHA website.

To find out more about the Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing visit


Notes to editor:

The short term fund addresses the themes and objectives outlined in Making Life Better, Protect Life 2, Delivering Together, PHA Corporate Strategy and the Department of Health COVID-19 Mental Health Response Plan.

The PHA commission a range of services from community and voluntary sector providers in response to the Government’s NI Regional Public Health Strategy – Making Life Better.

Award One – Eligibility Criteria

• Funding of up to up to £1,000 for non-constituted and constituted non-profit taking community / voluntary sector groups).

Award Two – Eligibility Criteria

• Funding between £1,001 - £5,000 for constituted, non-profit taking community / voluntary sector groups.