Community Heritage Fund Northern Ireland

Community Heritage Fund Northern Ireland

We are offering grants of between £3,000 - £10,000 for projects based in Northern Ireland that will encourage engagement with their local heritage.


The Community Heritage Fund Northern Ireland is no longer accepting applications. Explore our available funding.

The Community Heritage Fund opened on Monday 16 November 2020. It's aim is to support small-scale projects in Northern Ireland which help connect communities to the heritage in their local area. Application guidance is available below.

We wish to see people connect with and benefit from the heritage located on their doorstep such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, parks and sports grounds. Through sharing stories about the everyday places and finding out about the past, we strengthen our connections with the community around us.

"The experience of the lockdown in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) was a powerful reminder of the value and importance of the local environment to communities."

Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Total available funding is £200,000. The National Lottery Heritage Fund is distributing this on behalf of the Department for Communities. It is part of the £29million Covid-19 Culture, Languages, Arts and Heritage Support Programme 2020/2021


Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: "The experience of the lockdown in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) was a powerful reminder of the value and importance of the local environment to communities. Connecting with nature and heritage can be critical for maintaining personal mental and physical wellbeing.   

"We would like to build on this by helping people to strengthen their connections with their local area, tell their stories and find out about their past and the places where they live.   

"Whether they live in a city, a town or the countryside, everyone can benefit from the heritage of their immediate environment such as the buildings, monuments and landscapes that can be found within 15 minutes or so from their front door."

Every corner of Northern Ireland has been made and shaped by the many people who have lived and worked there: their legacy in the environment is our heritage today. 

We encourage groups to check their eligibility and apply as soon as possible for this fund before it closes.

Key dates

  • apply by noon on 18 December 2020

  • projects must be delivered between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021

Application guidance

The fund will support:

Projects led by local authorities and a range of third sector organisations

This includes those already involved in the promotion of heritage at a community level such as local history and civic societies and voluntary groups with an interest in heritage. Museums with projects that explore the heritage outside their doors are also welcome to apply.  

Organisations that care for heritage attractions

including not for profit organisations that care for historic buildings and sites that open their doors to visitors more than 28 days a year, such as historic places of worship.

Private owners of heritage

Private owners can apply as long as the funded activity is free to access, invites exploration by local community members and makes an effort to engage those members of the community who could benefit from it most.

Community groups that are not heritage-based

These are encouraged to get involved and to explore their interpretation of heritage by taking a closer look at what’s on their doorsteps. Local landmarks could be buildings, footpaths, skateparks, schools, community halls, parks, bridges, raths or dolmens – they’ve all played their part in shaping the landscape we see around us today. Applications are welcome from any project which recognises and interprets this.  

The aim of this grant scheme is to support local projects which help to connect communities with heritage in their local area. The emphasis will be on projects that encourage engagement with local heritage through place, including buildings, sites and monuments, parks and gardens.

We also actively encourage projects that aim to find value in unexpected ways, and in places that aren’t ordinarily seen as historic, but which create stronger connections between heritage and local residents’ sense of place and community. Heritage isn’t all about castles or listed buildings. It can also be the corner shop, the pub or the post box.

We recognise that there are layered stories in every place, and we encourage projects that seek to share diverse interpretations of heritage, for example between generations, ethnic groups or specialist interest groups.  

Many objects or places are important to more than one person or group and can have different meanings to different people. The exploration of townland names can often reveal hidden stories that have been largely forgotten. Projects which explore these different meanings and encourage people to see different points of view are encouraged to apply.

As part of your planning, you will need to factor in requirements for social distancing and COVID-related measures and guidance can be found here. You should ensure that any proposed activities for which you are requesting funding will not represent significant additional risks if Government guidance on social distancing and public events becomes more restricted.

This grant scheme will support a variety of activities that deepen people’s engagement with heritage in the local environment and see it as a way of connecting people and place. These might be projects that encourage a closer look at the built environment, or that develop an awareness of the history hidden beneath our feet. They might be projects that enable personal stories about place to be shared.

Activities might include the creation of walking trails, murals or pop-up window displays and the development of digital resources, for example interactive maps, videos, exhibitions and podcasts. We encourage digital projects to use existing public platforms to share their content rather than creating new websites that require ongoing management. Small-scale physical works such as the erection of plaques or interpretive panels would also be eligible, as long as appropriate permissions are in place.

We are particularly looking for innovative ways of identifying and celebrating local heritage through the arts, music, storytelling, crafting projects or outdoor activities such as cycling and walking. The common thread to all applications is to inspire more people to look more closely at their local places. 

Key factors

  • You can apply for 100% of the project costs. 
  • Third sector organisations will be able to apply for full cost recovery including existing staff costs as part of their project costs.  
  • We would encourage the inclusion of a small contingency to cover any cost increases.
  • We will aim to notify applicants of decisions by end of January 2021.
  • We are unable to fund any costs prior to being given permission to start which will usually take around two weeks from decision to process.
  • All money must be spent by 31 March 2021.
  • Projects will be expected to undertake their own evaluation. Costs can be included in the budget.

We are not offering pre-application or one to one advice for this programme so make sure you read the guidance carefully and check that you are eligible to apply.

Follow these steps 

  • If you are a first-time applicant, you will first need to register on the portal.
  • Once logged in to the portal, choose £3,000 to £10,000 from the pull-down menu. 
  • Complete the application form provided and use the application help notes
  • Submit the application to us online (via the portal) before noon on 18 December 2020.
  • Include the supporting documents required.
  • If you required technical assistance with your application, please email

Remember, your project must be delivered in the six weeks between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021, with project completion paperwork and evaluation to be submitted by 31 May 2021.  

Governing documents 

Local authorities and public bodies do not need to supply governing documents but all other organisations should provide a copy of their governing document with their application. 

Audited accounts

Include your most recent audited or accountant verified accounts. If you are a newly formed organisation and do not have a set of audited accounts, please submit your last three bank statements or a letter from your bank confirming that you have opened an account. We do not need your accounts if you are a public organisation (for example, a local authority).

Letters of support

Include letters of support from the people involved in your project. For example, if you are planning to deliver workshops at local youth clubs then a letter of support will show us that they want to take part. The letters of support should also demonstrate that you have consulted with the local community and that there’s a demand and commitment to take part in your project.  

When making your application please read the application help notes we have produced for this fund. We have also put together a list of frequently asked questions to help. 

We are unable to provide pre-application support for this fund. However if you require technical assistance with your application please email

The application guidance should cover everything you need to know. However if you still have questions, we are hosting two free webinars on Monday 23 November and Thursday 26 November to help explain the scheme and answer any queries you might have. Register for the webinars.

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If you query is regarding our application portal, please contact our support team.