A new dedicated £350,000 loan scheme has been launched to help provide funding for community projects across Northern Ireland.
Community groups, voluntary organisations, charities, sports clubs and social enterprises can access the scheme which has been funded by Building Change Trust and is managed by the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).
The new fund provides small loans which cannot currently be raised from traditional sources. The loans 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 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.”
Further information about the scheme is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003 or visiting www.ucitltd.com