Trust and UCIT Provide Finance Boost for Sector
A new dedicated £350,000 loan scheme, spearheaded by the Building Change Trust, has been launched to help provide funding for community projects across Northern Ireland.
Community groups, voluntary organisations, charities, sports clubs and social enterprises will be able to access the scheme which will be funded by Building Change Trust and managed by the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).
The new fund will provide small loans which cannot currently be raised from traditional sources. They can be used for a wide range of purposes, including buildings and repairs, equipment purchase, making facilities more energy efficient or funding shortfalls in larger grant assisted projects.
Among those hoping to benefit are Love Hockey Ireland from Portadown which is seeking funding to further develop its community-based indoor hockey rink and sports arena.
Launching the new scheme, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA, said: “I welcome this initiative which will help grow a more vibrant and sustainable Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector. This new fund will provide much needed access to funds for our social enterprises, charities, community and voluntary organisations which make an important and unique contribution creating job opportunities and encouraging entrepreneurial spirit which in turn contributes to the local economy.”
Nigel McKinney, Director of Operations with the Building Change Trust said:
“This new fund is a truly innovative development and a great opportunity for the Northern Ireland voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.
“This loan fund is part of our work in social finance which will help the sector become more financially sustainable in the future, freeing them up to do what they do best – delivering positive impact for the communities in which they work. ”
Groups taking advantage of the unsecured loans, which can range from £1,000 to £25,000, will just need to demonstrate a capacity to repay. The loans are also designed to be flexible and quickly available following an application.
Harry McDaid, Chief Executive of UCIT, which will manage the fund, said:
“Over the last 15 years, UCIT has supported 400 community and voluntary organisations with access to finance. This has helped create employment, provide services and stimulate economic activity, often in very disadvantaged areas where help is most needed.
“The funding from Building Change Trust will help us meet much needed demand for smaller loans in the third sector. The loan fund will match the needs of local communities, and be flexible and responsive in its delivery. We actively encourage groups to get in touch with us and discuss their plans.”
One of the groups hoping to benefit from the new initiative is local charity Love Hockey Ireland. CEO, Stephen Lynch, said:
“Our charity is focused on using sport as a vehicle for community integration. Since opening our social enterprise, multi-sport roller skating arena ‘The Rink Sports Arena’ three years ago, over 30,000 people have been through its doors. These include local schools, youth, church, ethnic minority and disability groups, and sports clubs.
“The facility is a great community resource and by gaining access to this loan scheme we are now focused on developing the Rink to offer even more services to all in our local communities. Gaining loan funding for small charities and social enterprises is a challenge these days. This new scheme is perfect for groups such as ours and it means we can now invest in a new business development officer to help us to continue to grow our services to the community.”
Further information about the scheme is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003 or visiting www.ucitltd.com