Fundraising for Urgent Community Support

⚠️ We’re fundraising to provide urgent community support for people who are in vulnerable situations across Northern Ireland

ℹ️ We’re seeking to raise £10k to address a gap in funding and to help us continue to provide our much-needed services in the community sector over the coming months


About Us

Community Calling was formed in March 2020 as a volunteer-led initiative to coordinate urgent community support across Northern Ireland in response to the pandemic. The project quickly gained traction with support reaching thousands of people in just a few months.

Right now, the team at Community Calling is working to strengthen community cohesion, building a collaborative community network (of individuals and organisations) with a shared goal – to get the right support to the right people at the right time, without duplication.

Our efforts over the last 12 months have resulted in:

  • 1300+ offers of community support
  • 900+ community support matches
  • 6000+ estimated beneficiaries
  • £100,000+ estimated value of the matches

All of the services we provide to beneficiaries are FREE OF CHARGE.

What we plan to do with the funds

We would like to continue to provide our digital community support matching service whilst building upon the foundations we’ve laid for our collaborative VCSE sector support network.

Our goal is to get the right support to the right people at the right time, without duplication. We use technology and collaboration to match support requests quickly with local organisations and volunteers.

Support can be matched directly, by linking support requests with local volunteers, resources, donations and community organisations; or, indirectly by linking volunteers, resources and donations with other community organisations in order to increase capacity and capabilities of existing community support.

We do this via our main website Community Calling and this links in with a growing collaborative network of VCSE organisations and volunteers on Community Network NI.

We would like to continue to design, develop and deliver our services to help local communities across Northern Ireland build on their strengths and share things they’ve learned whilst at the same time, helping people make changes to improve their lives by making much-needed support and services more accessible to those in need.

Who benefits?

Our project benefits people who experience disproportionate difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and covers a wide range of challenges/issues including (ranked in order of most frequently checked on our support request forms):

  1. Isolated
  2. Mental health challenges
  3. Urgent financial challenges
  4. Physical health challenges
  5. Other (mainly donations for children at Christmas)
  6. Support for children/young people
  7. Family/parenting challenges
  8. Elderly
  9. Technology/digital challenges
  10. Carer-giving challenges
  11. Personal safety concerns (home/community)
  12. Living in poverty
  13. Employability challenges
  14. Marginalised/minority groups
  15. Education challenges
  16. Homeless

What difference does it make?

Our project is already making a difference to our community and the VCSE sector in Northern Ireland. It has been recognised both in terms of innovation and impact. It is people-led, strengths-based and very well connected across the various locations, key impact themes and areas of focus below.

We support people who are at high risk from COVID-19 including the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) and the elderly. We are supporting communities facing increased demand and challenges both from the direct and indirect impact of COVID-19.

We provide the following support:

  • Support for individuals (anyone who needs help)
  • Referrals from third parties (such as HSCTs and community care providers)
  • Support for organisations (whether it be in relation to their increasing resources, facilitating collaboration, or promoting services/campaigns)

We invite people and organisations to get involved with supporting their local communities by:

  • Volunteering time
  • Offering skills
  • Donating items
  • Joining Community Network NI

We piloted Community Network NI over the winter months thanks to TNL Awards for All Fund (£10,000) and CFNI New Needs Fund (£8,250). The project has been a great success bringing our total figures for the last 12 months to:

  • 1300+ offers of support from volunteers/organisations across NI
  •  900+ support matches including basic needs/professional support/donations
  •  6000+ estimated beneficiaries resulting from the support matched
  •  £100,000+ estimated value of the matches 

How does our project involve the community?

Community Calling was formed as a volunteer-led initiative to coordinate urgent community support across Northern Ireland in response to the pandemic. Our project has always been user-centred, putting the people we serve firmly in the lead.

We ask for input from our beneficiaries, volunteers and supporting organisations every step of the way. We ask for comments, opinions and information from the whole community about the issues they face and we use this to figure out how we can work together to collectively tackle those challenges.

Over the last 12 months, we have reached out to as many people and organisations as possible and have had over 2000 responses via our digital forms including:

Requests for support:

Offers of support:

Onboarding of support offers:

Keeping in contact with our community:

We are currently working on focus groups which we hope will lead to regular community consultation across a range of topics including those mentioned in the question relating to other local activities.

We’re collaborating with specialist charities and community organisations to overcome any issues with accessibility in relation to involving the whole community and have asked for their feedback on various groups which are harder to reach (for example those with learning difficulties, those who speak different languages and those with different cultural needs).

We’ve used the information we’ve gathered to shape our overall project plan. Community Network NI is a collaborative community support network and we are therefore continually looking for ways to involve people in the design, development and delivery of our project and support services.

We are always keen to demonstrate that we are listening and report on the impact our project is making in communities across Northern Ireland both in terms of location and impact themes.

Location-based groups:

  • Antrim and Newtownabbey
  • Ards and North Down
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon
  • Belfast City
  • Causeway Coast and Glens
  • Derry City and Strabane
  • Fermanagh and Omagh
  • Lisburn and Castlereagh
  • Mid and East Antrim
  • Mid Ulster
  • Newry, Mourne and Down

Impact theme groups:

  • Basic Needs and Urgent Support
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Isolation and Disadvantage
  • Families, Parenting and Caregiving
  • Education Skills and Training
  • Arts Culture and Heritage

Other groups:

  • Introductions and Networking
  • VCSE Sector Support Pod
  • VCSE Startup Support Pod
  • Volunteer Support Pod
  • Private groups for key areas of focus
  • Private and secret groups for VCSE organisations

Why are we well placed to carry out our project?

We believe we are best placed to carry out our project because we have been connecting and collaborating with individuals and organisations throughout the pandemic.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve had offers of support from over 800 individuals and over 500 organisations who share the same goal… “to get the right support to the right people at the right time, without duplication.”

What gaps in local services does our project fill?

Firstly, we discovered a gap for our digital community support matching service.

Unlike Volunteer Now and Business in the Community for example, our platform has been specifically designed to match available, local support with individual members of the community and includes peer-to-peer support.

Secondly, we have confirmed an additional gap for our collaborative VCSE network.

Our pilot project for “Community Network NI” enabled us to enhance our support matching service through the winter months to address the more complex needs arising as a result of COVID-19.

This went beyond matching support requests with offers of support to deliver basic needs, such as shopping and medication, and actually encouraged collaboration and cohesion amongst local volunteers, community groups and organisations to respond better to the changing needs of their communities.

What other local activities does our work will complement?

As a result, our digital community support matching service and growing collaborative community network complements a wide range of local activities from VCSE organisations across the following key areas of focus:

  • Community Development (300+)
  • Health and Wellbeing (300+)
  • Education/Training (300+)
  • Volunteer Development (200+)
  • Young People (200+)
  • Community Relations (200+)
  • Advice Services (100+)
  • Disability (100+)
  • Older People (100+)
  • Women (50+)
  • Men (50+)
  • Lobbying/Policy (50+)
  • Sport/Recreation (50+)
  • Rural Development (50+)
  • Carers (50+)
  •  Housing and Homelessness (20+)
  • Race/Ethnicity (20+)
  • Environment and Built Heritage (20+)
  • Transport (20+)

(Please note the number in brackets is our target number of members for each group on Community Network NI)

The key to our project is collaboration – to work together with VCSE organisations and volunteers across Northern Ireland. It’s about identifying what is working, supporting those organisations (whether it be in relation to their increasing resources, facilitating collaboration, or promoting services/campaigns), sharing information amongst the sector and linking our support requests with these valuable services/resources, making them more accessible to those in need.

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