£1 million fund launched to ‘build a better future’

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Image: At the launch of the Building Better Futures fund at Belfast’s Clifton House are Harry McDaid, CEO, left, Ulster Community Investment Trust, with Paula Reynolds, CEO, Belfast Charitable Society and Nigel McKinney, Director of Operations, Building Change Trust

Three leading local charities have joined forces to unlock a £1m fund for community-based groups making a positive difference to society across Northern Ireland.

The ‘Building Better Futures’ fund will help charities, community and voluntary groups, and social enterprises by providing small, unsecured loans that are not currently available from traditional financial sources.

The scheme is being funded by Belfast Charitable Society, one of Northern Ireland’s oldest charitable organisations, Building Change Trust and Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

The launch event at Clifton House in Belfast, featured the original money chest of the Belfast Charitable Society. Made in 1768, at a time when Belfast had no banks, the chest was used to store all of the monies collected to build the Poor House and the city’s first hospital. The chest could only be opened by three separate keys held by three key holders.

Paula Reynolds, CEO of the Belfast Charitable Society said:“Since its inception over 265 years ago the Belfast Charitable Society has been to the forefront of tackling disadvantage and helping vulnerable people, be that through the city’s first hospital, clean water supplies, or the foundation of social welfare and the care of our older people.

“Building Better Futures is about harnessing those same values of compassion and philanthropy for today’s society. By investing in grassroots organisations and providing access to finance that isn’t readily available elsewhere, groups will be able to continue to work directly with those in need.”

Nigel McKinney, Director of Operations at the Building Change Trust, said: ”We’re delighted our collaboration with UCIT has expanded to include Belfast Charitable Society.

”We’ve known for some time there has been demand from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector for small, simple, unsecured lending. This collaboration shows what is possible when the focus is on meeting the needs of the sector and we’re excited to see the work that will be done using this form of social finance.”

The joint Fund, managed by UCIT, will provide access to flexible finance and encourage organisations to place financial management at the centre of their operations.

Damian McAteer, UCIT’s Vice Chair, added: “UCIT is delighted to further extend its reach by partnering with the Building Change Trust and Belfast Charitable Society to help us meet much needed demand for smaller unsecured loans from within the third sector.”

Further information about the scheme is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003 or visiting www.ucitltd.com

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