Sixteen of Northern Ireland’s community groups and charitable organisations have benefitted from the inaugural Community Cashback Grant created by the Henderson Group.

The wholesaler and retailer announced the Grant back in April, and throughout May donated £20,000 to charities providing a variety of complex and critical services to users throughout Northern Ireland.

The organisations range from local community groups who are ensuring the most vulnerable are still able to access hot meals while isolating, to critical care in the skies and some of Northern Ireland’s most important mental health organisations.

Bronagh Luke, Head of Corporate Marketing at Henderson Group says the Grant was set up in the face of a surge in demand for charity services, alongside the immediate cancellation of fundraising events; “Everything changed overnight for the charities and their service users, not only did critical fundraising events get cancelled but they had to navigate and pivot an unparalleled change in the face of a huge surge in demand. Therefore, we set up the Community Cashback Grant as we are part of every community these charities serve in Northern Ireland.

“The Community Cashback Grant has helped 16 charities in Northern Ireland, giving them all a share of £20,000 to help them navigate this uncertain road. While they have done an incredible job in adjusting how they help their service users, we hope that regular fundraising and services can resume for them soon.”

The organisations which received boosts to their COVID-19 crisis response funds are; Tiny Life NI, Mae Murray Foundation, Belfast Homeless Services, Flourish NI, Kilkeel Development Association, Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, Crossroads Care NI, SHINE Autism Support Group, Air Ambulance NI, Make a Wish NI, Action Mental Health, Simon Community, Nexus NI, Cruse Bereavement Care, Eating Disorders Association NI and Parenting NI.

Niall Dempsey from Nexus NI said their need came from a 20% increase in demand that was exacerbated by isolation; “We take pride in the fact that our work is usually one-on-one, concentrated sessions where our clients can get the most out of their time with our volunteers and counsellors. When lockdown happened, this understandably caused some distress to those who respond best to routine.

“We knew that other countries experiencing lockdown had shown a 300% increase in calls to domestic and sexual abuse helplines, so we needed to be prepared. We brought all our talking sessions online and over the phone, and we had to buy each volunteer a mobile phone. We’ve been able to cope with the increased demand we’ve experienced recently, and we’re so grateful to have this extra injection of funds from the Henderson Group so we can continue to do our jobs in these uncertain times.”

As the pandemic continues but restrictions start to ease, the Group will continue to support its SPAR, EUROSPAR, VIVOXTRA and VIVO charity partners: Marie Curie NI, Cancer Fund for Children and Age NI.

Bronagh finished; “We are also adapting to ensure we’re still there for them, even when we can’t all be together, to fundraise in this new normal.”