DfC: COVID-19 and our Partner Organisations

COVID-19: Partner Organisations

This page provides the latest information about COVID-19 and some of the Department's Partner Organisations. It will be updated regularly with the latest information.

This information is for Northern Ireland only, if you live in England, Scotland or Wales please visit GOV.UK

For general heath advice relating to COVID-19, please visit the Public Health Agency's website. Key information is also available in Sign Language on this PHA page.


Partner Organisations

Advice NI - Community Helpline

A Freephone Helpline has been established to assist those in vulnerable groups to access information, advice and support in relation to COVID-19. The Helpline, which is managed by Advice NI, is open 9am to 5pm, 7 days per week, the number is 0808 802 0020. Alternatively you can text ACTION to 81025, email : Covid19@adviceni.net or complete a form on the Advice NI website.

Further details are available on nidirect.

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s planned closure of the Planetarium for renovations has been extended until further notice due to COVID-19.  For updates, visit www.armagh.space

Arts Council NI

Funding of £1.5 million will be available to support individuals and organisations in the Arts Sector in response to Covid-19. The Creative Support Fund will be administered by the Arts Council NI allowing small and medium sized organisations to be able to apply for maximum funding of £25,000 to help them develop new projects or programmes or re-arrange events which have had to be cancelled during the Covid-19 period. To find out more about the criteria and to apply visit www.artscouncil-ni.org.

Interpreter Now

A free remote interpreting service for British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) users in Northern Ireland has been introduced to provide the Deaf community with access to:

  • NHS111 (Northern Ireland COVID-19 advice line) and
  • all health and social care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This temporary service is provided by Interpreter Now and is funded by the Department of Health and the Department for Communities. Find out more on the DoH Website;



Libraries NI

Libraries NI will close all public libraries and Out of Hours access from 5pm Friday 20 March until further notice. For more information, visit librariesni.org.uk

National Museums NI (NMNI)

National Museums NI has temporarily closed its four museums (Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park).  For updates, visit www.nmni.com   

NI Housing Executive (NIHE)


The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) is ensuring the protection of the most vulnerable at this time with a central COVID-19 planning team in place to ensure they continue to fulfil their statutory homeless obligations during this period, while implementing the latest government guidance on social distancing. The Housing Executive has approved a number of emergency measures, including the sourcing of additional temporary accommodation for those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. 

Due to the Covid-19 emergency Minister Hargey has taken the decision to postpone the planned increase in Housing Executive rent levels. The 2.7% increase will now not come in to effect until 1 October 2020

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey announced an additional £10 million to help maintain Supporting People services support vulnerable individuals during the Covid-19 emergency.


Public Health Agency / British Deaf Association

The Department's Languages branch has partnered with the Health & Social Care Board to work with the Public Health Agency (PHA) and British Deaf Association (BDA) to provide key informaiton on COVID-19 in both British and Irish Sign Language (BSL/ISL).

Visit the Public Health Agency website to view the BSL/ISL videos;


    Sport NI

    On 14 April the Minister launched a £500,000 Hardship Fund for the sports sector. Sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector, which are unable to receive support from other Government Covid-19 Mitigation Funds, will be able to apply to Sport NI for a small grant of £2,000 to help with immediate financial commitments to maintain their facilities during the Covid-19 restrictions. Due to exceptional demand, the total fund was increased by a further £250,000 on 16 April and the scheme has been suspended pending the assessment of those applications that have already been submitted.



    Support for district councils

    Scheme of Emergency Financial Assistance

    The Minister has activated a Scheme of Emergency Financial Assistance for 6 months from 3 April to support district councils with their costs in preparing for and responding to  COVID-19. 

    Legislation is now in place to enable district councils in Northern Ireland to hold meetings remotely via telephone conferencing, video conferencing, live streaming etc, allowing council business to continue while adhering to public health guidance. It also provides for members of the public to attend remotely rather than in person.

    Where documents, notices, agendas, reports, background papers, minutes, etc, are “open to inspection”, this requirement is now satisfied by the documents being published on the council’s website. This provides for council members, officers and the public, to have access to documents without attending council buildings.

    Furloughing of Council Staff

    The Minister has also confirmed that Councils are eligible to apply to furlough staff through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

    Community Support Fund

    DfC has released £1.5 million to district councils to help citizens through the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will come from the Covid-19 Community Support Fund to target need and alleviate poverty by:

    • providing assistance to those at risk due to financial stress;
    • ensuring access to food for those most in need
    • helping to connect those living alone or in in rural and border areas that are likely to experience greater challenges in accessing services. 

    This £1.5 million is an initial tranche of money with more money to follow.

    Additional £20m for Councils

    Minister Hargey announced on 19 May that the Executive is allocating £20.3 million to local councils to assist them with their financial pressures as a result of Covid-19.

    The funding will ensure that local councils can continue to provide essential services and support those in need.

    Volunteer Now - #HelpEachOther

    Volunteer Now has launched its ‘#HelpEachOther’ campaign to help safeguard those most at risk in the community.  And, in response to an increasing number of requests by people looking for opportunities to help their local community during these uncertain and changing times. 

    If you are an organisation who would like to involve more volunteers as a result of COVID-19 or if you are keen to volunteer,  find out more or register your interest at Volunteer Now - 'HelpEachOther’.


    Return to COVID-19: DfC Service Updates 


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