Funding for training in Northern Ireland

This section of the Training Toolkit outlines the funding landscape for accredited training – and looks at funding opportunities which can support community radio stations to carry out both accredited and non-accredited courses and programmes. This page relates to Northern Ireland; see equivalent info for England, Scotland, and Wales.


Funding opportunities for Radio training: introduction

This resource has been put together with the acknowledgement that we are currently working in difficult and challenging times, where cuts to funding are affecting the voluntary and community sector’s ability to deliver services to our communities. Furthermore, government funding for skills and learning is undergoing development, and changes are being made on an on-going basis.

One option in the current landscape is to collaborate with registered training providers – who may have a greater understanding of which courses currently attract government support – and to deliver training in partnership. This option would save on the cost of centre registration, which is often needed to be an independent delivery organisation for many of the recognised training courses.

There are charitable trusts and funding organisations to which community groups can apply for funding. It is important to keep up to date with the changes as new funding can become available and you will also need to check that you fit the criteria to apply. In the current funding landscape, competition is high, and a strong innovative bid and measurable project ideas are a must. Think about what you can offer, what outcomes you are meeting by using radio? Funding is often specific to groups – for example it could be linked to reducing the number of NEET young people, or helping ex-offenders get into employment.


Table 1: Types of training and funding

Type of training Type of funding
Accredited course Skills Funding Agency, via learning provider
Non-accredited course Learner / organisation pays?
In-house training n/a
Grant-funded project social funder (e.g. Esmée Fairbairn, etc)
Service delivery local authority (e.g. council), service provider (e.g. NHS), government


Three models of funding training

There are three main models for accessing funding for training:

  • Delivering accredited courses
  • Grant funding / funding an outcome
  • Government-funded contracts

These may overlap to an extent – they are not mutually exclusive – but below is more detail on each of these models.


Funding for delivering accredited courses

In Northern Ireland Secondary Level students (ie pre-16) will come under the responsibility of the Department of Education. Those who continue through A Level (16-18) and on to Higher Education (18+) will continue to be funded under Department of Education. For those who switch to Further Education Colleges and Courses the funding will primarily fall under the responsibility of DEL (the Department for Employment and Learning).

For those over 16 who are unemployed and participate in training under programmes such as Steps to Work and other economic departmental initiatives the funding for these programmes in Northern Ireland may come from Department for Employment and Learning, Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment or the Department for Social Development.


Funding an outcome / grant funding

An inherent part of your mission as a community radio station is to deliver social gain. You are a community-minded organisation making a difference in the world – you are an agent of social change.

Funders want to make a difference in the world – and, each according to their focus and mission, they want to fund particular social outcomes. So, in doing the sort of work that you do (or in designing the kinds of projects you want to do), you need to identify what is the social outcome that you are helping to achieve. This is your selling point as an organisation – this is your pitch to the funding body – whether it is in the form of a grant, or a service which is being commissioned or contracted. It is worth identifying what funders will be most likely to fund a particular type of project, and to approach these funders with specific proposals – rather than either a ‘scattergun’ approach (i.e. sending funding applications to every funder), or a ‘copy and paste’ approach (i.e. re-using the same proposal for multiple funders).


Funder About the funding
Community Arts Fund Funding available in Northern Ireland targeting community arts groups addressing the integration of communities, in particular ethnic minority communities.
Enkalon Foundation Grants of up to £6000 are available to groups in Northern Ireland which are operating in the fields of Cross Community Projects, Assistance to Unemployed Groups and Helping the Disadvantaged.
The David Ervine Foundation Grant Fund Projects which offer education, training and/or personal development opportunities to young people in socially and economically deprived areas in Northern Ireland.
Arts Council for Northern Ireland Funding for Arts initiatives in Northern Ireland. Various programmes – e.g. Building Peace through the Arts, and Arts and Older People ­– with specific windows for applications.
Turkington Fund Promotion of intergenerational activities and interaction between older generation and other sections of the community. Encouragement of older people in Northern Ireland to engage in educational, health, social and cultural activities.
Lloyds TSB Foundation for Northern Ireland Funding a variety of community and charitable initiatives in Northern Ireland including training and personal development initiatives for disadvantaged groups and communities.
Unltd Funding for Social Entrepreneurs creating change in their communities.
Awards For All Not for profit organisations and groups can apply. Funding is for specific projects or activities, which can include training and development activities for staff and volunteers. The grants available are between £300 and £10,000. You are able to apply any time but you must submit three months before project starts. Applications are usually decided within 30 days.
Esmee Fairbairn Esmée Fairbairn funds focuses on education and cultural sectors. Voluntary and Community Sector organisations can apply. Projects should focus on education and enable people who are disadvantaged to participate more fully in society.
Paul Hamlyn Foundation Open to charitable and not-for-profit organisations. Funds innovative projects looking at change in areas such as tackling school exclusion and truancy, pilot activity, knowledge exchange and development/transfer of best practice. Applications can be made at any time.
Henry Smith Charity Open to community organisations that deliver projects which provide support to young people at risk, particularly those living in areas of deprivation. There are two funds the Main Grants which will fund projects over £10,000 and a Small Grants fund which will support projects less than £10,000 Trustees meet quarterly in March, June, September and December.
Youth in Action For Organisations working with young people (15 – 25 years).Funding is for programmes which promote informal and non-formal learning and exchanges of young people between the UK and other countries; also specific support for youth workers to develop skills through the Support Measures Programme (job shadowing, study visits, training courses, networking)
Children in Need Provide grants to projects in the UK which focus on children and young people who are disadvantaged.


There are also opportunities for funding via the European social fund as well as other EU programmes such as Grundtvig, Interreg, and Peace III (Northern Ireland & 6 Border Counties only).

There is also funding to undertake training, through the BBC and Creative Skillset Funding for Radio and Audio Training programme, which consists of bursaries for individuals working on a freelance basis in the UK radio and audio industry to spend on short courses or other short term training and development solutions as part of their continuing professional development (CPD). Funding can be applied for up to 80% of the combined fees, travel and accommodation costs of your training to a maximum of £800 inclusive of VAT. See info from Creative Skillset.


Government-funded tenders for learning

Training providers wishing to tender for education and vocational training services which are government funded can obtain information on the provision of courses from the Department of Employment and Learning.


Contracts Finder

All national government-funded tenders, contracts and funding agreements over £10,000 (including funding which is connected to education and vocational training) are available to view via Contracts Finder This service allows people to search for government-funded opportunities in one place Organisations can sign up to receive email alerts.

The funds listed in this table are available nationally – there are other funds available to organisations located in particular regions or localities, which should be looked into as they will provide access to local funding streams.

It is advisable to make contact with the funder to talk through your ideas and check your eligibility against the criteria, confirming maximum amounts of funding available, groups they prioritise and priority areas for funding in advance of putting together your application. A lot of the funders also list previous applications which have been successful which can give you an idea if your project is something which they may support.

There are lots of websites which provide free information about what current funding is available. Some links include:

  • GrantTracker is the only website dedicated to helping the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland to raise funds from grant-makers.
  • Funding Central is a free website for voluntary sector organisations that provides access to funding and finance opportunities, plus a wealth of tools and resources. The website is operated by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
  • Grantfinder is a national grants and policy database and includes details in excess of 8,000 funding opportunities.
  • Grantnet is a free grants database available to small community organisations once they have registered on the website.
  • Grants4 portal is an online information service that provides information on funding opportunities that are available in your local area (please note that not all local authorities have taken up the service.