Last Thursday evening, February 18th, Ballyhoura Development CLG hosted its Spring District Forum virtually, the first of 2021.

Due to continuing Covid-19 restrictions, this event took place online. This District Forum was themed around the provision of practical advice to communities at this time of continued restrictions. A focus was on funding and the funding outlook for 2021, acknowledging the challenge faced by communities regarding ongoing costs, insurance, light & heat. Governance and key dates on the governance calendar for the year was also covered. The session also focused on opportunity through the Sustainable Energy Communities programme and also the Ballyhoura Keep Well Campaign, with supports to communities and individuals at this challenging time. In total over 85 representatives from 44 communities took part.

The evening was opened by Padraig Fitzgerald, Chairperson of Ballyhoura Development with an update provided by CEO of Ballyhoura Development Padraig Casey.

Amanda Slattery & Nichola Grufferty of Ballyhoura Development CLG focused on the LEADER Transitional Funding, with project approvals planed from April 1st 2021. Expressions of Interest are currently being accepted and supports are given to communities preparing applications. The opportunity for Food Businesses was also highlighted with the rate of grant aid increasing from 50% to 75%. The funding outlook and calendar for the year ahead were also presented. The importance of linking with staff and informing staff about project ideas was reemphasised. This allows staff to correctly identify funding opportunities for communities to apply to.

Mary Gleeson of Ballyhoura Development CLG spoke on the subject of good Governance for communities. The calendar of dates and key dates for returns was shared along with some practical advice for communities in being prepared and organised for these dates.

Nicole Dennehy spoke on the Sustainable Energy Communities programme highlighting some of the key information that communities can take on board. Nicole also flagged the upcoming info session on Thursday, February 25th where all are welcome to come and find out more information on this exciting programme. 

Taran Kelly highlighted the “Ballyhoura Keep Well Campaign” for communities and individuals to access supports to help our mental health through ongoing restrictions. The platform also can be used to highlight community-based initiatives that people can access to help everyone stay well at this time.

The evening concluded with a question and answer session chaired by Padraig Casey, CEO of Ballyhoura Development, who once again acknowledged the community spirit that continues to shine strongly in the area despite restrictions on physical gatherings. There is an ongoing challenge now facing communities regarding costs that need to be met for community centres and spaces. However, restrictions have negatively impacted revenue and income. Padraig Casey reassured community representatives that Ballyhoura Development is sharing this challenge at a regional and national level, as a sector that requires support.

In response to the immediate need, a 2-session training programme is commencing on March 2nd & 4th with a focus on "Virtual Fundraising" that is aimed at supporting communities to think about new ways of raising much-needed funds in a climate where the traditional fundraising options are not possible.

Ballyhoura Development would like to acknowledge the communities, stakeholder agencies, staff and Board members who participated in the Forum and look forward to continuing to work together in these challenging times and in the weeks and months ahead.

For more details on any of the services or information mentioned above please contact your local Ballyhoura Development Officer.

The information provided by speakers on the night can be downloaded from the links below: 

Upcoming Events & Funding updates

Governance for Communities

Sustainable Energy Communities Programme