Covid Recovery Programme for Heritage Individuals (Northern Ireland)

Covid Recovery Programme for Heritage Individuals (Northern Ireland)

Department for Communities funding will support individuals working in the heritage sector in Northern Ireland as they continue to confront the financial impact of the pandemic.

Guidance updates:

  • 28 January 2022: guidance was updated to show that the funding programme had closed.


This programme is now closed to new applications. Explore our available funding.



The Executive has allocated £20million of COVID-19 support funding in the 2021/2022 financial year to assist the culture, languages, arts, heritage and other sectors. These sectors have been badly impacted by the pandemic as they rely heavily on peoples’ ability to come together.

The Minister for Communities has pledged to continue supporting the culture, languages, arts and heritage sectors to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic to prevent loss of sectoral skills among self-employed/freelance individuals.

As the impact of COVID-19 dissipates, this programme is aimed at promoting the recovery and renewal of the heritage sector. It provides a single one-off payment which recognises that self-employed/freelance individuals will incur costs of re-establishing their creative practice. Without support, vital skills and expertise may be permanently lost from the sector.  

We will invite eligible applications from individuals negatively affected by the pandemic in the financial year 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. Individuals must demonstrate that their income has been negatively impacted during this period, in full or in part due to COVID-19.  

Funding comes from the Department for Communities and is being delivered by the Heritage Fund. 

Key dates

  • applications are open from 17 December 2021 to noon on 28 January 2022
  • decisions will be announced by 31 March 2022
  • we will fund activity from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022
  • completion reports and evidence of spending must be submitted by 30 June 2022


Please note

We have developed this funding programme quickly in order to respond to the immediate needs of the heritage sector. 

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

The overriding objective of this Department for Communities programme is to retain a vital workforce within the heritage sector which is at risk of being lost as a result of COVID-19. The programme also aims to support this workforce in adapting to a changing heritage sector.

Many freelance workers, craftworkers and those with specialist heritage skills have lost some of their earned income this year. If not given support this sector may take longer to return to a functioning heritage economy.

Priority for funding will be given to those who have been unable to access other forms of financial support from Government or other sources.

We are accepting applications from self-employed and freelance individuals working in the heritage sector. Individuals must have a principal private residence in Northern Ireland. Applicants need to be over 18.

These individuals could include specialist heritage builders, conservators and craftspeople registered with an appropriate professional body. It could also include tour guides who provide heritage tours or tours at heritage sites. 

This is an indicative list and is not exhaustive. The fund is aimed at workers in the heritage economy who bring skills or expertise to the heritage ecosystem.

Please note applicants who have received funding from the Arts Council's Creative Individuals Recovery Programme are not eligible for this fund.

Applicants who received funding during the last round of emergency grants from the Department of Communities, but have not yet submitted a completion report, are still eligible to apply for this fund. However, these applicants will not be given priority for support until they have met all their contractual requirements under any previous emergency grant.

Individuals can apply for costs incurred from 1 April 2021 – 31 March 2022.

The following costs are indicative, and are not an exhaustive list:

  • living costs/wage replenishment
  • professional fees such as accountancy fees
  • attendance at industry events and membership fees for professional bodies
  • digital equipment and licenses to assist in remote working
  • training and skills development which help to maintain or enhance professional practice

Before you apply

We are not offering one-to-one pre-application advice for this programme, so please make sure you read the guidance carefully and check that you are eligible to apply. It should provide all the information you need to know to make an application. 


We ran a guidance webinar on Monday 10 January 2022 at 12pm. This provided an overview of the scheme and gave applicants a chance to ask questions. 

Your application

Please note: the Heritage Fund uses the same forms across a variety of our programmes. Some questions need to be answered differently for the COVID-19 Recovery Programme for Heritage Individuals, so you must carefully read the application help notes to understand what information is required where. Do not use the help icons embedded in the online form. 

We have designed the application process to be as straightforward as possible and we are requesting only the information we need.  

Application Help Notes for Individuals.

Your project title

Please ensure that you use the following format for your project title: ‘CRPHI: your name’. If you do not use this prefix, we will not know that you are applying for the Covid Recovery Programme for Heritage Individuals and your application may be delayed.  

Use our application portal

Mandatory enclosures

You must include certain key financial and other documentation with your application. These must be submitted with your application by the application deadline. Any application which does not include all of the mandatory enclosures will not be considered.

The mandatory enclosures are:

  1. a CV/statement about your career in the heritage sector to date
  2. a reference from an independent source to verify your practice
  3. confirmation of any work lost as a result of COVID-19

Mandatory enclosures are also referred to as supporting documents throughout our application guidance.

The application form lists a number of other supporting documents which are not required for the Covid Recovery Programme for Heritage Individuals. Please only provide the mandatory enclosures listed above. Please upload these in the order given in the Application Help Notes for Individuals.

Other considerations

You are responsible for disclosing awards if you are in receipt of means tested benefits. You should seek advice from the government department or agency which handles your benefit before an application is made, because in certain circumstances it may have implications for future benefit entitlement should there be a break in claim.

You are also responsible for managing your own tax affairs and should contact HMRC to seek confirmation about the impact of this grant on your tax status and liability.

Technical support

For technical support or assistance with accessibility, please contact our customer service team by email:

Your application will be assessed on the following factors:

  1. your CV and your contribution to the heritage sector in Northern Ireland before COVID-19
  2. the benefit that this award will have on the sustainability of your professional skills

What you provide above will be used to evaluate the impact your work and practice has had and will make to the heritage sector in Northern Ireland.

If we are oversubscribed, we will prioritise awards based on the criteria above.

Receiving payment 

You will need to submit additional forms on our system so that we can make a payment. We will let you know when you need to do this and guide you through the process. 

If we award you a grant, we will send you a legal agreement which includes the amount you have been awarded and outlines the conditions of the grant. You will need to confirm that you are accepting the grant and signing up to the terms in the letter. When you have completed this process, we will make your grant payment.

We will expect evidence of delivery and expenditure, such as reports, invoices and receipts. More detailed information will be provided at point of grant award.

Reporting on your progress and evaluation

All grantees will be required to participate in monitoring and evaluation of this programme and we will monitor the health of your organisation.

Department for Communities will be evaluating the impact of the whole fund and will require you to take part in some data collection to support this work. We will provide more information about this requirement as soon as it is available.

You are responsible for retaining evidence/records of paid work affected due to COVID-19. Please keep emails/correspondence or other proof as we will reserve the right to request these in the event of your application being successful.

Retention of Documentation 

All evidence used to support the eligibility of the individual for the Programme must be retained until March 2025. The Heritage Fund retains the right to carry out post payment audits to validate the accuracy of the information provided and, if appropriate, to claw back payments made in error or payments made in excess of the appropriate amount of funding. 

For more information about how your data will be processed under this grant programme please see our privacy policy.

If your work’s primary purpose falls into one of the following categories, please apply to the Covid Recovery Programme from the corresponding partner organisation:

  • Arts – Arts Council for Northern Ireland
  • Film – NI Screen
  • Sport – Sport NI
  • Irish Language – Foras Na Gaeilge or its nominated delivery partner
  • Ulster-Scots language/culture – Ulster Scots Agency
  • Charities/social enterprise – Community Finance Ireland

We understand that you may be disappointed with the outcome of your Covid Recovery Programme for Heritage Individuals application. We can only review our decision again if you make a complaint about how we have dealt with your application. We have a two stage complaint process for this fund.

We will only be able to consider and investigate the complaint if you can demonstrate that:

  • we did not follow the published procedures for assessing your application
  • you can show that we have misunderstood a significant part of your application
  • you can show that we did not take notice of relevant information

A complaint must be made in writing by emailing within 10 working days of receiving your application decision. We aim to acknowledge your complaint within three working days.

Your complaint will initially be reviewed by an area or country director from The Heritage Fund. They will be independent of recommendation and decision panels for this fund.

We aim to communicate a decision within 15 working days from when you submitted your complaint.

For assistance, contact our Customer Services Team on 020 7591 6044 or email

Funding comes from the Department for Communities and is being delivered by the Heritage Fund. 

Changes to this guidance

We have developed this funding programme very quickly in order to respond to the immediate needs of the heritage sector. We will continue to review our processes to ensure we are able to provide support where it is needed. We reserve the right to make any changes needed to the guidance and programme. We will communicate any changes as quickly as possible via this webpage.

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