The Wheel: NewsWheel – December 2020

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The Latest News & Updates for Irish Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises



Making Sense of 2020 – Reflections on a Monumental Year by Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel

As 2020 draws to a close, it is very tempting to just draw a line under the past year, indulge in some much-needed seasonal joviality, and start 2021 afresh. But before we do, I think it worth pausing for a few minutes to reflect on what we collectively achieved this year, what we have learned along the way, and how this may shape the future of our sector.

I must begin by acknowledging that 2020 has affected us all – some much more than others – particularly those who have lost loved ones. But I suspect it has left few of us unchanged.

Secondly, I want to personally thank you for the vote of confidence that you gave us through your membership of The Wheel. Over the past year, the community and network that The Wheel is comprised of has proven itself to be a strong, determined and respected voice for charities, community and voluntary organisations, and social enterprises. With 1,852 members countrywide, you and we are now stronger, and better than ever positioned to understand and promote the interests, needs and priorities of our diverse sector and the value of the work that our organisations, staff and volunteers do.

I’d like to offer you a few personal insights from the year that was…

Read Deirdre’s full message here.


Charity Impact Awards 2020 Winners Announced

Two charities tackling the devastating impact of dementia, as well as the Chairman of the Jack and Jill Foundation and a woman who has comforted the victims of crime in court for over 30 years, are among the extraordinary people and organisations honoured at the annual Charity Impact Awards on 8 December.

The Charity Impact Awards celebrate the positive impact these organisations, and the individuals behind them, make in the lives of millions of people in Ireland and beyond.

Over 150 people and organisations were nominated for the Charity Impact Awards this year, and the entries reflect the huge effort charities made this year to support the people and communities they serve, often under very challenging financial circumstances.

The glamorous online awards ceremony on 8 December included appearances from a host of Irish personalities including Ray D’Arcy, Sharon Horgan, Daniel O’Donnell, Sonia O’Sullivan and Leo Cullen.

Congratulating the winners, Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel said; “Over the past year families, neighbours, communities, medical professionals, the HSE and other statutory services, businesses, charities, community and voluntary groups, social enterprises have all come together in solidarity to make sure that no one is left behind. This united national response would not have been possible without the community and voluntary sector. Charities and voluntary groups were active in every community in Ireland before the COVID-19 crisis, and they provided a structure within which people could coordinate their support and identify those most in need of it. From the very start of this crisis, the community and voluntary sector – bolstered by an army of volunteers – sprang into action to support the most vulnerable people in our communities, and over the past nine months, they have moved mountains. We need to make sure this precious national asset – our charities, community and voluntary groups, and social enterprises – are strong enough to help Ireland bounce back.”

To learn more, and for a full list of the winning entries, see here or watch a shortened version of the awards ceremony here.


The Wheel Wins European Civic Pride Award

The Wheel was honoured last week to accept a Civic Pride Award from the European Civic Forum, an international network bringing together over 100 NGOs to promote citizenship education, human rights, and democracy.

The award is shared with several other Irish civil society representative bodies who came together to petition the Department of Rural and Community Development to secure the COVID-19 Stability Fund to sustain and safeguard the community and voluntary sector through pandemic.

Six other initiatives from throughout Europe were also honoured by the European Civic Forum for their Stories from the Lockdown project which celebrates exceptional solidarity and civic participation in the face of crisis. These stories provide a snapshot into how civil society organisations, despite being stretched far beyond their usual capacity, have mobilised during the pandemic to ignite civic spirt and to assist those in need.

The Civic Pride Awards are part of the European Civic Forum’s overall campaign to highlight the essential role of civil society in Europe as a mediator between the individual and the state and to advocate for civil and social dialogue at national and EU-level as fundamental to democracy. They are calling for more recognition and support for the work of civil society and the essential values it defends, and to be meaningfully included in post-pandemic recovery and resilience plans.

You can find out more in their Activizenship # 5 – Civic Space Watch Report 2020 or summary document.


Sign up for Access Europe Today

On 25 November, The Wheel officially launched Access Europe, a new support and capacity-building programme to help Irish civil society organisations access EU funding. The three-year project is being funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

This launch featured Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne TD, as our special guest and included a “spotlight session” on the social economy with expert speakers from Ireland and Europe. You can watch it back here if you missed it.

Membership of the Access Europe programme is free and provides:

  • Updates on EU funding calls and opportunities
  • Free training and information events
  • One-to-one support for applications
  • Networking with potential partners.


With the EU budget for the next multiannual financial framework finally agreed upon this week, a new batch of EU programmes and funding opportunities will be released soon. The Wheel’s Access Europe team will be researching programmes as they are released and filtering down relevant and accessible information to civil society and supporting them to engage.

Don’t miss out, sign up to Access Europe today to stay informed.


Benefacts Launches Two Major Reports On Giving in Ireland

Benefacts, the social enterprise which works to transform the accessibility and transparency of Ireland’s nonprofit sector, has launched two major new reports, both of which are now available to download.

Charitable giving in Ireland 2020

This is the first Benefacts report on Charitable Giving in Ireland, using 30 years of high quality survey data derived from the Household Budget Survey (HBS) of the Central Statistics Office (CSO).  This report is a benchmark against which future trends in charitable giving can be measured. It also can be used to compare the profile of giving in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe, since surveys like the HBS are carried out at regular intervals across the EU.

Institutional Philanthropy in Ireland

Philanthropies in Ireland take various institutional forms, and Benefacts follows international standards in classifying them as community foundations, corporate foundations, family foundations, independent foundations, operating philanthropies, philanthropic intermediaries, payroll-giving schemes. Using reported expenditure from 22 philanthropies in 2019, Benefacts has analysed the scale, profile and targets of their giving in Ireland.

To read both of these online reports, register for free on Benefacts here.


Minister O’Brien launches first National Volunteering Strategy 2021-2025

On 5 December, Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, launched the first National Volunteering Strategy 2021-2025.

The purpose of the strategy is to recognise, support and promote the unique value and contribution volunteers make to Irish society. Volunteering benefits large sectors of society in the areas of education, arts, heritage, education, health, sport and the socially marginalised. Research has also shown that the act of volunteering has a positive impact on the health and well-being of the volunteer.

The strategy was produced in collaboration with the community and voluntary and business sectors and will provide a vision and road map for both volunteers and those organisations who benefit from the work of volunteers.

Outline of Strategy

  • It is a five-year strategy (2021-2025) and comprises a suite of policy and strategic initiatives led by the Department of Rural and Community Development to support nonprofit organisations in community development, local development, social enterprise, and community and voluntary sectors.
  • The strategy comprises five high level objectives, with a total of 56 associated actions
  • The strategy builds upon and strengthens the renewed relationship and partnership between government and the voluntary sectors which has developed during the course of its preparation.
  • Together with the Strategy to Support the Community and Voluntary Sectors in Ireland and the National Policy on Social Enterprise, the strategy will be the final part of a suite of policy initiatives to support the full range of organisations that are providing services to communities.
  • The strategy is underpinned by the values and principles agreed by the National Advisory Group (representative of all stakeholders established to assist in the development of the Strategy), and includes a range of actions to support volunteers and their representative organisations.


Learn more and download the full strategy here.


Further €1.7m COVID-19 Supports Announced for Community and Voluntary Groups

An additional €1.7 million is being provided by the Government to support community and voluntary groups to deal with COVID-19.

The funding, under the COVID-19 Emergency Fund, is in recognition of the important role played by community and voluntary organisations across the country as we head towards the Christmas period.

The additional investment was confirmed by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD.

The funding will enable groups to embrace the Government’s ‘Keep Well’ campaign which focusses on the themes of staying connected, switching off and being creative, and minding your mood.

It brings the total funding provided under the COVID-19 Emergency Fund to €4.2 million in 2020.

The funding will be used to assist local community and voluntary groups to adapt to COVID-19, for example:

  • Allow for changes to premises to provide for social distancing;
  • Funding for on-line activities;
  • Provision of critical social supports.


To read more about the funds, including how to apply, please see here.


Ireland Signs the Toledo Declaration on Social Enterprise

On 4 December, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, announced that Ireland has signed the “Toledo Declaration on Social Enterprise”.

The Declaration is a recognition and a commitment to strengthening the decisive role that Social Enterprises can play as the EU emerges from the health, economic, and social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was signed at a high-level meeting on the social and solidary economy in the EU, organised by the Spanish Ministry of Labour and Social Economy.

The event was attended by representatives from EU member states, as well as by Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organisation.

Reacting to Ireland’s signing of the Toledo Declaration, Chris MM Gordon, CEO of the Irish Social Enterprise Network said: “We welcome a milestone in the history of Social Enterprise in Ireland. Upon signing the Toledo Declaration of Social Enterprise, the Government of Ireland are stating their clear support to Social Enterprises and their role in the most recent COVID-19 pandemic… This effort firmly places Ireland at the top levels of engagement on Social Enterprise, and commits the Government of Ireland to lasting and meaningful support for the Irish Social Enterprise landscape.”

Read more about the significance of the Toledo Declaration here on Socialenterprise.ie.


Public Consultation on 10-year Literacy, Numeracy & Digital Literacy Strategy

What do you think are the challenges and opportunities for Ireland in relation to adult literacy, numeracy and digital literacy? How do you think we can create an environment where all adults in Ireland have the necessary literacy, numeracy and digital literacy to fully participate in society?

An important consultation is now open on the new 10 Year Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy Strategy. The strategy will take a whole-of-Government approach and provide a framework to support individuals to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital skills. The strategy will take a broad holistic definition of literacy, encompassing aspects such as the ability to engage in lifelong learning, health literacy, digital literacy, environmental literacy, democratic literacy, media literacy, financial literacy etc.

The consultation is being run by SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, on behalf of the Minister for Further and Higher Education and Research, Innovation and Skills, and is for anybody with an interest in improving literacy, numeracy and digital literacy for adults. SOLAS would like this consultation to be as wide as possible so please do share this invitation with your networks and, if applicable, with your clients and service users.

The consultation will close on 31 December 2020. You can find out more about the consultation and the process involve here.

If you have any queries, please email Roisin Doherty, Director, Further Education and Training, Learner Support on: roisin.doherty@solas.ie.


COVID-19 and Communities Listening Project: A Shared Response

The Carnegie UK Trust has published a new report: COVID-19 and Communities Listening Project: A Shared Response. This report considers how organisations and communities across the UK adapted and responded to the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over this six month period the Carnegie UK Trust had over 80 conversations with people from 16 communities across the UK, focussing on how organisations and communities were adapting to meet the needs of the people around them, and the evolving relationships between the public sector, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, and communities.

The report reflects on what has been learnt during this time and outlines hopes and opportunities for ways of working, identifying how the public sector and communities can develop sustainable ways of working together to respond to the needs of local people.

Download the full report.



Preview Our Spring 2021 Training Calendar:



Ecclesiastical Movement for Good Awards

We know how important it is to support the most vulnerable in our society so once again our 12 days of giving will provide vital support to remarkable organisations right across the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. We know from previous winners what a huge difference £1,000 can make.

Deadline: 22 Dec 2020. Full details here.

HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention: Research Grant Scheme

The HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) has introduced its first grant scheme for collaborative research projects on priority groups in Ireland. The funding awarded will be up to a maximum of €40,000 per application.

Deadline: 29 Jan 2021. Full details here.

Waterways Ireland ​​​Heritage in the Community Grants Programme

A fund of €20,000 has been allocated to assist community based heritage projects which compliment or fulfil the delivery of the Waterways Ireland Heritage Plan along the Barrow Navigation, Erne System, Grand Canal, Lower Bann, Royal Canal, Shannon, Shannon-Erne, and the Ulster Canal (Upper Lough Erne to Clones).

Deadline: 31 Jan 2021. Full details here.

Patagonia Environmental Grants

Patagonia funds only environmental work. We are most interested in making grants to organizations that identify and work on the root causes of problems and that approach issues with a commitment to long-term change. Irish nonprofits are eligible to apply.

Deadline: 31 Jan 2021. Full details here.

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