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Grass Roots Renewables received a £250k loan from UCIT to fund a wind turbine outside Maghera

The lender for the third sector in Northern Ireland

Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) is a Charity which provides loans exclusively to other third sector organisations such as community groups, charities, sports clubs and social enterprises in Northern Ireland. Since 2001 we’ve committed in excess of £50 million to over 360 organisations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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£52 million
Loans approved 2001-2014

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UCIT provided start-up funding to Folktown CIC for a new farmer’s & artisan market in Belfast

About us

Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) is a Charity which provides loans exclusively to other third sector organisations such as community groups, charities, sports clubs and social enterprises in Northern Ireland. Since 2001 we’ve committed in excess of £50 million to over 360 organisations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

UCIT was established in response to decreasing grant support from government and the difficulties experienced by community organisations in accessing commercial loan facilities. Start-up funding was received from LEDU (Invest NI) and the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) along with a £6.6m loan book from IFI, Department for Social Development and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

In 2007 UCIT received accreditation from the Social Finance Foundation, Dublin, to enable the organisation to access a fund for investment south of the border. To read more, please visit the website of our sister company, Community Finance Ireland.

During 2012 UCIT's fund management company, UCI plc, achieved Financial Conduct Authority accreditation and the organisation was awarded the management of the £5 million NI Small Business Loan Fund by Invest Northern Ireland.

As a registered charity, all profits generated by UCIT are retained and recycled for reinvestment into the third sector.

Projects supported:

Projects Supported
Projects Supported

 

 

370 community
Projects funded

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Filmbase, Dublin availed of a bridging loan from UCIT to facilitate the running of training courses

Loans

Who do we lend to?

We lend exclusively to Community organisations, charities and social enterprises, both large and small, located in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Our borrowers include Faith-based initiatives, Sports Clubs, Training initiatives, Childcare schemes, Housing associations, Community transport schemes, Rural development projects and many more…

Finance is available for: buildings and equipment, working capital, cash shortfalls, bridging finance against delayed grants or other confirmed income and restructuring of debt.

Interest Rates - UCIT Interest rates are competitive and depend on the individual circumstances of each borrower.

Repayment Term - UCIT provides both long-term loans and short-term bridging finance. Loan terms are tailored to suit each borrower.

No penalties - UCIT does not penalise against early repayment of loans

Loan size - UCIT loans typically range from £25,000 - £500,000 +

If you would like a chat about whether a loan is the right option for your organisation, our lending team can provide advice and know how gained from many years of involvement within the sector in Northern Ireland. The lending team can be contacted on Tel: 028 90315003.

As a registered charity, all profits generated by UCIT are retained and recycled for reinvestment into the third sector.

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Building Better Futures Loan Fund

UCIT are delighted to provide a new loan fund for community groups, voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises. The scheme which is being jointly funded by Building Change Trust, Belfast Charitable Society and UCIT provides small, unsecured loans ranging from £1,000 to £25,000. The loans can be used for a wide range of purposes, including buildings and repairs, purchase of equipment, making facilities more energy efficient or funding shortfalls in larger grant assisted projects. The Building Change Trust was established in 2008 by the Big Lottery Fund with a National Lottery grant of £10million as an investment for community capacity building and promotion of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland. Belfast Charitable Society was established in 1752 to tackle disadvantage and poverty and in doing so it built the Poor House and Belfast's first Infirmary, which remains as Clifton House. Today, the Society continues to work to tackle disadvantage and promote philanthropy while sharing its vast heritage with others.

Further information about the scheme is available by contacting UCIT on Tel: 028 9031 5003.

     

£2 million
Invested in Arts & Heritage projects

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UCIT provided Slack Press with working capital support to help them upscale their social enterprise

Applying for a loan

Our lending team welcome the opportunity to discuss the suitability of loan finance for your project and to answer any questions you might have. The lending team can be contacted on Tel: 028 9031 5003.

The UCIT lending process is simple and straightforward:

If your project appears suitable for loan finance, we will ask you to fill in a short application form.

Once we receive your completed application, a member of our lending team will contact you to arrange a meeting in order to further develop your proposal.

Upon completion, your business proposal will be submitted to UCIT's Lending and Investment Committee for approval.

Click on the link below to download the loan application form.

Complete the form and then print it out, sign, date and return it to UCIT.

Alternatively, call or email us and we will be happy to send you a loan application form and guidelines.

Loan Application

£14 million
Invested in Enterprise projects

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UCIT provided a loan to Foyle Women’s Aid to enable them to undertake crucial refurbishment work

Customer stories

UCIT loan finance has supported job creation, community engagement and economic development in many towns and villages in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Explore our Impact Map to find out more about the projects we have funded.

 

Bangor Football Club

Bangor Football Club received a £250,000 loan from UCIT to assist with the installation of a 3G pitch at its home ground at Clandeboye Park. It is planned that the improved facilities will enable the club to establish a Soccer Academy, allow for greater use by the wider community, and help deliver financial sustainability.

“These new facilities are an important part of securing our long-term financial future and strengthening the connection between the club and its local community. UCIT’s support has been instrumental in making this happen.” Trevor Best, Chairman, Bangor Football Club

Broughshane and District Community Association

"Our involvement in the Pilot Community Asset Transfer Scheme enabled us to develop a strong partnership with Ballymena Borough Council, (now Mid and East Antrim Council), DTNI, DSD, NIHE and Triangle Housing Association to finance and complete a feasibility study and Business plan for the development of the former Broughshane Police Station site. We are delighted that we are currently in the process of purchasing the Station, thanks to the financial support from Mid and East Antrim Council and a loan from Ulster Community Investment Trust." Sandy Wilson, Vice-Chairman, Broughshane and District Community Association

Landmark East

"We are focused on the regeneration of east Belfast. There are a number of derelict and vacant properties on the Newtownards Road that we feel can be transformed to improve the overall look of the area. The new development will help increase footfall in the area which in turn will help traders.

"Financing regeneration projects in the present climate is a real challenge. UCIT have been extremely supportive of our plans to revitalise the area. The redevelopment would not have been possible without their assistance." Maurice Kinkead, CEO, East Belfast Partnership

Resurgam Community Development

"There are people in the area struggling for employment, especially the young. We are giving them an opportunity to learn the skills they will need to find a job. For us it is all about jobs and we have already created over 100 jobs across our six enterprises, contributing £1.7m in salaries to the local economy.

“All profits raised through the business are reinvested back into the company or directly into the community, particularly the health and education sector. UCIT have been extremely supportive of our work and the second loan secured from them is a sign of confidence in our latest project." Adrian Bird, Director, Resurgam Community Development

Workspace Group

Workspace Group, one of Northern Ireland’s leading Local Enterprise Agencies, received a tailored working capital facility from UCIT to fund the expansion of Therm Tech, which it acquired three years ago.

“Therm Tech has reported strong growth in recent years and this loan from UCIT will support our ambitions for further growth, principally through increased exports in the UK and Europe. In addition to this increased level of export activity, we will be able to consolidate existing jobs and continue the employee growth strategy which has been so evident over the last two to three years.” Robin Gawne, Company Accountant, Workspace

£2.3 million
Invested in Social Housing projects

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UCIT provided a loan to Ards Rugby Football Club to support their redevelopment plans

News

 

£1M Fund Launched to Build a Better Future

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, 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.”
The event was attended by a range of representatives from the community sector and Local Government from across Northern Ireland, including the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr. Mary Ellen Campbell.
 
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, one of the UK’s largest specialists in social finance, 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. 
“The Fund represents a significant investment from within the sector by organisations that value community activity and social enterprise in all its diversity across Northern Ireland. This partnership is a positive move for the sector and we hope that it will encourage similar collaborations or even new investors for the fund.”
 
Building Better Futures will provide unsecured loans of between £1,000 and £25,000 to help groups become more financially sustainable.  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.  
Belfast Charitable Society was established in 1752 to tackle disadvantage and poverty, building a Poor House and Belfast’s first Infirmary which remain as Clifton House. Today the Society continues to work to tackle disadvantage and promote philanthropy while sharing its heritage with others. Building Change Trust was established by the Big Lottery Fund supported by a National Lottery grant of £10 million to help build community capacity and the promotion of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland.  
 
Further information about the scheme is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003 

UCIT announces new Board Appointments

Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) has announced a new Chairman as part of a number of new Board appointments.

Alan Moneypenny, who has had an extensive career in the private, public and community sectors, will serve as Chairman for three years. Damian McAteer has been appointed as Vice Chair.

Alan’s previous roles have included positions on the Boards of the Odyssey Trust, Sport NI (Vice Chair), Irish Football Association and Coleraine’s Riverside Theatre.  Current appointments include Wellington College, Belfast Charitable Society and Groundworks NI. 

Mr Moneypenny said:

“I’m delighted to become Chairman of the UCIT group of companies at a time when demand for and interest in social finance is at an all-time high.  Just recently UCIT announced a record quarterly performance with over £2m in new facilities approved or utilised at the start of 2017.

“We’ve also undertaken a partnership arrangement with Belfast Charitable Society and Building Change Trust in order to be able to provide smaller, unsecured loans.  The NI Small Business Loan Fund, which UCIT manages on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland also continues to grow strongly.

“Northern Ireland’s small business and third sector are an important source of employment, wealth generation and community services.  Working with UCIT’s Board and Director team we will continue to seek innovative ways to support and grow these sectors.”

Other appointments to the Board include Erskine Holmes, (Chair of Lagan Navigation Trust) as Chair of UCIT’s Audit & Risk Committee and Seamus O’Prey (Chief Executive, ORTUS Group) as Chair of the Strategy Committee.  

Harry McDaid, UCIT’s CEO, added:

“At a time when funding options from Government and traditional sources are becoming constrained it’s vital that social finance providers such as UCIT are there to provide professional support and advice. Our Board is integral to UCIT’s work, providing commitment, strategic oversight and invaluable links with the community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors.  I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on the Board as UCIT continues to expand its operations.”

 

Over 400 Organisations Benefit from UCIT Community Loan Fund

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, UCIT has announced that it has assisted over 400 organisations with loan commitments totalling £60 million. UCIT provides affordable, flexible, loan support to community-based organisations, charities and social enterprises throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As a registered charity, all profits generated by UCIT are retained and recycled for the benefit of its clients.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, UCIT has announced that it has assisted over 400 organisations with loan commitments totalling £60 million. UCIT provides affordable, flexible, loan support to community-based organisations, charities and social enterprises throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As a registered charity, all profits generated by UCIT are retained and recycled for the benefit of its clients.

Since 2001, UCIT has provided support to a broad range of third sector organisations including sports clubs, community associations, charities, green energy, enterprise agencies, faith-based organisations, social housing schemes and the arts.

Last year UCIT assisted 27 projects totalling £3.4m with Community Finance Ireland (UCIT’s subsidiary in the Republic of Ireland) committing €3.9m to 29 projects.

Harry McDaid, Chief Executive of UCIT, said: “Over the last 15 years, UCIT has alleviated funding gaps by providing hundreds of community organisations and social enterprises with access to finance.  This has helped create employment, attracted investment and stimulate economic activity, often in very disadvantaged areas where help was most needed.

“We have provided loans as low as £10k and as high as £1m, helping organisations to increase their impact or sustain their activities. In many cases, absent the support of UCIT, our clients would have struggled to raise the funding necessary to progress their growth ambitions.

“We look forward to further extending our impact in the year ahead and in the process, attract further capital to meet the needs of the community, voluntary and social economy sectors at a time when continuing austerity, slower payment cycles, a difficult economic environment, tighter availability of grant support, increasing costs and ever narrowing margins are combining to challenge sustainability in a growing number of cases.”

One organisation to benefit from UCIT support over the past six years is Blythswood Ireland Ltd.  The charity has received four loans aggregating £683,000.  These have been used to purchase warehousing and to open shops across NI, most recently Ballymoney.  Blythswood Ireland Ltd. currently has 17 full-time employees, four part-time employees and a sizeable volunteer base.

Harry Latimer, Chief Operating Officer at Blythswood Ireland Ltd. commented: “Since 2010 the support we have received from UCIT has been incredible. The loans have eased the pressure on the charity financially and allowed us to focus on providing help to those that need it most here in Northern Ireland and in our overseas projects.

“We currently have seven retail outlets across the eastern region of Northern Ireland.  The latest round of funding from UCIT allowed us to purchase a shop unit in Ballymoney together with an adjoining vacant unit and adjacent ground with planning permission.  In order for us to help more people in need, we need the generosity of people and the support of organisations such as UCIT.”

£3.8 million
Invested in Sports Clubs

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UCIT Directors

Dermot McGale Chair
Retired Regional Director of First Trust Bank
Seamus McAleavey Vice-Chair
Chief Executive of NICVA
Dr Arthur Mitchell MBE
Company Secretary Founder Trustee / Director of Mourne Heritage Trust
Thelma Armstrong MBE
Sub Board member of Choice Housing Association
Erskine Holmes OBE
Elected member of NI Council Co-operative Group
Jim Malone
Director/Founder Member of Ardee Community Development Company
Alan Moneypenny
Former Vice-Chair of Sport NI
Damian McAteer
Director of Waterside Development Trust
Michael McGarrigle
Secretary of Council for the West
Douglas McIldoon
Secretary of NI Co-operative Forum
Seamus O’Prey
Chief Executive of ORTUS Group
 

Community Finance (Ireland) Directors

Dermot McGale Chair
Retired Regional Director of First Trust Bank
Henry Brennan
Business Consultant and Certified Accountant
Paddy Harte
Lecturing and Economic and Social Development Advisor
Kevin Helferty
Director of Buncrana Credit Union Ltd
Jim Malone
Director/Founder Member of Ardee Community Development Company
Dr Arthur Mitchell MBE
Founder Trustee/ Director of Mourne Heritage Trust
Alan Moneypenny
Former Vice-Chair of Sport N.I
Michael McGarrigle
Secretary of Council for the West
Seamus O’Prey
Chief Executive of ORTUS Group
Andrew Ward
Joint CEO Inishowen Development Partnership

Community Finance (Ireland) Staff

Donal Traynor Associate Director
Marie Carpenter Office Administrator
Barry Symes Client Relationship Executive
Rose Hally Client Relationship Executive


Download and view our latest reports

Social Impact & Financial Highlights Report 2016

Social Impact & Financial Highlights Report 2015

UCIT is a member of the UK Community Development Finance Association (CDFA). As a member of the CDFA, UCIT must comply to the CDFA Code of Practice.

A copy of our Code of Practice compliance can be found by clicking below

Code of Practice


Membership of Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) offers you the opportunity to be part of an exciting and progressive financial institution that is committed to breaking new ground in developing financial solutions for the social economy sector.

As an Industrial and Provident Society, UCIT offers membership by way of share acquisition with a minimum subscription of £250 Sterling (or the Euro equivalent).

A copy of our membership form can be found by clicking below

Membership Form