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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

 

Loan from Building Better Futures Fund enables Strand Arts Centre to grow its artistic programme and increase revenue

Strand Arts Centre is a charitable venture set up to offer cost effective events, outreach programmes, classes and activities to the East Belfast population while ensuring the survival of an Art deco landmark building which houses Belfast oldest cinema.

The Centre has obtained a loan from the Building Better Futures Fund to finance the acquisition and installation of a new digital projector. The investment means Strand Arts Centre will be able to increase their programme of activities and generate further income thereby improving the overall sustainability of this iconic facility in East Belfast.

Community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises can access loans available through the scheme which has been created and funded through a partnership between three leading local charities - Belfast Charitable Society, Building Change Trust and Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

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. Building Change Trust was established in 2008 by the Big Lottery Fund with an endowment of £10million as an investment for community capacity building and promotion of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland.

The £1 Million fund which is being managed by UCIT provides small unsecured loans of £1,000 - £25,000 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.

Mimi Turtle, Chief Executive, Strand Arts Centre said: "We recently accessed a loan from the Building Better Futures Fund in order to make a capital investment in a new digital projector which will enable the Strand Arts Centre to grow both its artistic programme and its income.  The efficient process of securing this finance coupled with the on-going personal and flexible service is what makes UCIT an attractive financial partner for the Strand." 

Further information about the Building Better Futures scheme is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003.

UCIT loan enables Brain Injury Foundation to open first ‘Pub with no Beer’

The first pub with no beer dedicated to brain injury survivors has opened in Camlough, just outside Newry.

BIFFERS is an initiative developed by the Brain Injury Foundation in the former INF Club which adjoins Our House, the Foundation’s centre of excellence for brain injury.

Frank Dolaghan, Chair of the Foundation, said “Opening BIFFERS is the second stage in our development programme and is a natural progression from the opening of Our House. We have developed BIFFERS as an innovative response to requests from our survivors for a social environment which would allow participation in pool matches and other events. One of the after effects of an acquired brain injury is that alcohol consumption can have a very negative impact on recovery and survivors are strongly encouraged to avoid alcohol. The downside of this for our members is that visits to pubs are difficult and it is in the pub setting that many pool matches are played so our members are precluded from taking part in a sport which very many of them play well.

“Our brain injury survivors now have a pub they can call their own where they can entertain local teams in pool and darts matches and generally enjoy a much more normal social life. This will add immeasurably to their self-confidence and further reduce the social isolation which is a sad consequence of acquired brain injury. The excitement among our members has to be seen to be believed.”

“There is no way we could have proceeded with the acquisition of the social club without the investment from UCIT. We found the whole process to be as accessible and user friendly as one could have wished for – the absolute minimum of red tape which is a very welcome change.”

Phelim Sharvin, Associate Director of the Ulster Community Investment Trust speaking at the launch said:

“UCIT are delighted to support the Brain Injury Foundation, a social enterprise that has a potentially life-changing impact on both its users and wider family networks. The flexible UCIT loan has funded the acquisition and refurbishment of the old INF Clubhouse and therefore facilitated the provision of wider social and recreational activities here in Camlough. The positive social impact is clear to see, and UCIT stand ready to support similar Social Enterprises in the delivery of their plans and aspirations.”

Michael Hughes, Co-ordinator of the Big Lottery funded Space & Place programme which provided £350,000 to enable the Foundation to create ‘Our House’ also attended the opening and commented: “We are delighted to have worked with the Brain Injury Foundation to develop its main premises ‘Our House’ in Camlough through the Space & Place Programme.

“It is a testament to the positive impact of the Programme within communities that the Brain Injury Foundation has now gone on to develop a pub with no beer which will undoubtedly enhance the service delivered by the group. We see this new venture as yet another demonstration of the commitment of the Brain Injury Foundation’s committee and their users to improve the quality of life for those with an acquired brain injury, their families and friends. We wish them every success with BIFFERS.” 

Loan from Building Better Futures Fund assists North Belfast Charity to continue to provide vital counselling services

Launched in 2010, Jigsaw Community Counselling Centre seeks to improve the lives of those living in North Belfast through the provision of a caring, professional and confidential counselling serv
ice. Each year up to 1,700 clients benefit from Jigsaw’s services which includes schools counselling, mentoring and art therapy. The organisation has acquired a loan facility from the Building Better Futures Fund to cover short term working capital costs.
 
Community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises can access loans through the Building Better Futures scheme which has been created and funded through a partnership between three leading local charities - Belfast Charitable Society, Building Change Trust and Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).
 
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.
Building Change Trust was established in 2008 by the Big Lottery Fund with an endowment of £10million as an investment for community capacity building and promotion of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland.
 
The £1 Million fund which is being managed by UCIT provides small unsecured loans of £1,000 - £25,000 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.
 
Further information about the Building Better Futures scheme is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003.
 

Small Business Loan Fund passes £6 Million mark

A specialist loan fund created to support smaller businesses has provided more than £6m in new loans since it was launched four years ago.
 To date the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) is estimated to have helped create over 150 new jobs and additional sales of almost £30m.
 
The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Finance (UCF) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland and delivered in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland. UCF is a subsidiary of the social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT). The Fund was set up to provide access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources.
 
Harry McDaid, UCIT’s CEO said:
“Northern Ireland has the highest concentration of SMEs in the UK and accounts for 99% of our private sector.  Ensuring that these firms have adequate access to funding is, therefore, essential for the well-being of the economy.  
“The Fund’s clients are ambitious, growth-orientated firms and together they represent significant levels of employment and wealth creation.  Northern Ireland needs to grow its own pool of successful indigenous companies and we’re confident that some of tomorrow’s star business performers will be beneficiaries of this Fund.” 
 
William McCulla, Invest NI’s Director of Corporate Finance said: 
“Now in its fifth year, the Small Business Loan Fund is continuing to make a significant difference to the business community in Northern Ireland by boosting business confidence and ensuring SMEs have access to the type of finance needed to support their growth and development. 
“We are delighted to have offered this support to a range of businesses across Northern Ireland in sectors including IT, Manufacturing, Hospitality, Tourism and Retail, which has helped to create jobs, bring new products to market and help company’s realise their growth ambitions.”
 
One of the firms to benefit from the Fund is Brocagh Precision Engineering Ltd (BPE), located near Coalisland.  The firm designs and manufactures bespoke components for clients in sectors ranging from heavy engineering to aerospace.   
Paul Donnelly, BPE Director, said: “BPE provides bespoke precision engineering services for clients across the UK and Ireland.  The funds provided by NISBLF have enabled us to invest in new machinery and provide working capital.  This has allowed BPE to develop new products for the construction and demolition sector, expand into new markets and increase efficiency within the company. Following the completion of two recent projects we have secured a number of export orders for our new product range and have seen our sales grow by 20%. As these new orders go into production we have plans in place to increase our staff to meet demand and to grow the business.” 
 
Donal Leahy, Senior Lending Executive, Enterprise NI, added: 
“This fund was a new and unique offering in the marketplace and has been a huge success to date. As we are now in the fifth year of the fund we have the advantage of being able to look back at many of the projects that clients pursued which generated tangible benefits for their businesses.  A funding gap in the market for SMEs is now being covered and we aim to sustain and exceed this provision over the coming years.”
 
The Fund provides loans of up to £50,000 to start-ups, micro enterprises and small businesses.  As a revolving fund it’s expected that a figure in excess of £7m will be made available over the course of the fund’s lifetime.
For more information please visit www.nisblf.com
 

Think Small for a Prosperous Future

by Alan Moneypenny, Chairman, UCIT
 
by Alan Moneypenny, Chairman, UCIT
 
Judging by the surprise outcome of the General Election, it is clear that the after effects of the economic crisis and the continuing impact of austerity are still shaping public opinion. Likewise, small businesses and the Community, Voluntary and Social Enterprise (CVSE) sectors continue to grapple with the legacy. 
 
Two clear themes have emerged over the past decade – a reduction in the level of grant support making life more challenging for the CVSE sector and a reduction in the appetite of mainstream funders to provide finance to smaller businesses.
 
Here these trends have had a disproportionate effect given the importance of these sectors to the local economy.  According to the Federation of Small Business we have the highest concentration of SMEs in the UK with around 125,000 small businesses accounting for 99% of our private sector.  
 
Funding oils the wheels of small businesses.  Expansion, investment, development, employment - the lifeblood of a vibrant and growing sector – all rely heavily on access to funding support. Fortunately, in response to the market failure in the provision of debt support, Invest Northern Ireland launched the NI Small Business Loan Fund which is managed by Ulster Community Finance Ltd and delivered in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland. UCF is a subsidiary of the social finance organisation, Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).
 
The Fund was set up to provide access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources.  
 
Demand has been remarkably strong and £6m has been provided to 300 firms since the fund was launched in 2013. Facilities of up to £50,000 are available and as a revolving fund it is expected that between £7m and £8m will be made available in total over the course of its lifetime.

Back in January when it reached its £5m milestone the fund had helped 260 companies create an estimated 144 new jobs and generated incremental sales approximating £26.5m.
 

A wide variety of businesses have been supported. One example is the Dungannon-based DGR Group, a family firm that designs and manufactures high-end audio equipment and cables for sale globally.  Established in 2012 in response to the lack of new brands in the UK sound system market, the father-son partnership received support to develop their Titan audio cable range. 
 
Stephen Blakely Design from Banbridge specialises in architectural and interior design, and the manufacture of bespoke furnishings, window dressings and upholstery furniture. With clients across the UK, Ireland and further afield, The NI Small Business Loan Fund provided finance to support his business growth plan.  
 
Another example is County Antrim-based ‘Creative De-Signs NI’, which designs and manufactures bespoke signage for trade and corporate clients across Ireland.  It received funding for capital investment that has helped treble turnover and double staff levels.
 
Firms such as these are indispensable to Northern Ireland’s future prosperity and supporting their growth will be especially important as we transition to a post-Brexit trading environment.
 
Northern Ireland’s CVSE sector also has much to offer.  According to NICVA there are 6,000 groups in the sector locally, providing over 44,000 jobs directly and, in many instances, supporting projects that encourage business start-ups and entrepreneurship.
 
In response, UCIT has evolved to become one of the UK’s leading providers of social finance with over 400 organisations benefitting from loans totalling £42m since 2001.  Again, demand is at an all-time high with a record £2m in new facilities approved and utilised in the first quarter of 2017 alone.
 
Having recently been appointed as Chair of UCIT my Board and I are keen to build upon these successes and seek innovative ways to support the sector and meet emerging needs. In May, for instance, UCIT collaborated with Belfast Charitable Society and Building Change Trust (established by the Big Lottery Fund supported by the National Lottery) in a unique partnership to create the £1m ‘Building Better Futures’ Fund.  This will provide much needed small, unsecured loans for community-based projects.
 
We often hear that Northern Ireland is the second most successful region outside of London for securing foreign direct investment.  That is clearly vital for driving productivity, employment and wages.  Our small indigenous businesses, however, remain the bedrock of the economy. Encouraging and supporting them is central to a sustainable and prosperous future.  Equally, the provision of funding to the CVSE sector is clearly a support for social cohesion.
 
Alan Moneypenny, Chairman, UCIT 
 

 

Finance for Faith Groups

Ulster Community Investent Trust (UCIT) has supported a number of faith-based projects, but stands ready to support more.

Phelim Sharvin, UCIT Director, said, “Faith groups have traditionally relied upon donations, high street banks and grants as a funding model, but with grant levels declining and reduced capacity from banks to support the sector, we’re encouraging groups to think about social finance options from UCIT.”

The Elim Trust Corporation has received funding to assist affordable housing and childcare projects in Newtownabbey and Carryduff.
 
Rev. Robert Ginn, New Mossley Elim Church, said: “With UCIT’s assistance we’ve been able to provide six affordable housing units in the New Mossley estate in Newtownabbey. 
“The project is an important part of our ministry and is a practical demonstration of our commitment to the community.  Without the social finance and advice provided by UCIT it would have been very difficult to make this ambition a reality.”  
 
UCIT funds are available for a range of purposes, including buildings and repairs, renewables and energy efficiency, debt restructuring, bridging finance and start-up costs.  
For more information contact UCIT on Tel: 028 9031 5003.
 

North Belfast community care organisation to benefit from Building Better Futures Loan Fund

 

Founded in 1983, 174 Trust is a community care organisation committed to helping build a “strong, just and peaceful society” in North Belfast and beyond. The Trust’s award winning facility, the Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts, provides a safe, shared and inclusive community space from which they deliver a variety of valuable services including childcare, disability support programmes and a range of community and arts events. 174 Trust has obtained a loan from the Building Better Futures Fund to assist with working capital costs.

Community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises are being encouraged to access the loans available through the scheme which has been created and funded through a partnership between three leading local charities - Belfast Charitable Society, Building Change Trust and Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

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. Building Change Trust was established in 2008 by the Big Lottery Fund with an endowment of £10million as an investment for community capacity building and promotion of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland.

The £1 Million fund which is being managed by UCIT provides small unsecured loans of £1,000 - £25,000 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.

Further information about the scheme is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003.
“The application process was very straight forward and the help from the staff was excellent.” Geoffrey Kerr, Deputy Director, 174 Trust

£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.
 
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 

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

Alan Moneypenny Chair
Chair of Finance and Audit committee, Riverside Theatre
Damian McAteer Vice-Chair
Director of Waterside Development Trust
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
Dermot McGale
Retired Regional Director of First Trust Bank
Seamus McAleavey
Chief Executive of NICVA
Michael McGarrigle
Secretary of Council for the West
Douglas McIldoon
Secretary of NI Co-operative Forum
Seamus O’Prey
Chief Executive of ORTUS Group
Jude Copeland
Solicitor, Herbert Smith Freehills
Ian McAvoy
Chair, Playboard
Martin Stroud
Board Member of Ulster Waterways
Anthony Barbour
Board Member, NI Co-operative Forum

Community Finance (Ireland) Directors

Alan Moneypenny Chair
Chair of Finance and Audit committee, Riverside Theatre
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
Dermot McGale
Retired Regional Director of First Trust Bank
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