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Privacy Notice

We have endeavoured to take all precautions necessary under the EU General Data Protection Regulations in order to protect the data which we process.

Who we are

 ‘We’ are Ulster Community Investment Trust Ltd, a Community Benefit Society registered at 13-19 Linenhall Street, Belfast, BT2 8AA, registration number IP0000374.

Visitors to our websites

Our website is for promotional purposes, we do not collect personal information.

Cookies are small text files that a website transfers to a site visitor’s hard disk or browser for added functionality, or for tracking website usage.  We do not use cookies to gather personal information such as a person’s name or email address.  In order to measure the effectiveness of our online presence, we may use cookies to identify repeat visitors to our site and to determine the path visitors take on our site.  Any information gathered by the use of cookies is compiled on an aggregate, anonymous basis.

Use of cookies is an industry standard and many websites use them.  If you do not wish to receive cookies, or want to be notified of when they are placed, you can set your webs browser to do so, if your browser so permits.

Social Media

We use the following social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter. When you contact us through these platforms, including via private message, you should be aware that these platforms may collect your data. Please refer the individual service providers’ Privacy Policies (linked) for more information.

Website security and performance

We use a third-party service to help maintain the security and performance of our website. To deliver this service it processes the IP addresses of visitors to our website.

People who call us

When you call our offices we do not automatically record caller identification details.

People who email us

Any email sent to us, including any attachments, may be monitored and used by us for reasons of security and for monitoring compliance with office policy. Email monitoring or blocking software may also be used. Please be aware that you have a responsibility to ensure that any email you send to us is within the bounds of the law.

Any information you provide to us, including in any footer or attachments, in an email may be used in conjunction with any of our stated business purposes. If you do not intend this to happen, you must make clear to us your expectations.

We do not encrypt emails as a matter of policy.

People who make a complaint to us

We take any complaints we receive very seriously. We encourage people to bring it to our attention if they think that our collection or use of information is unfair, misleading or inappropriate. When we receive a complaint we make up a report containing the details of the complaint, which we sometimes term a ‘non-conformance’. This normally contains the identity of the complainant and any other individuals involved in the complaint. We will only use the personal information we collect to process the complaint and to check on the level of service we provide.

We will keep personal information related to complaints for 7 years.

Job applicants, current and former employees

When individuals apply to work with us, we will only use the information they supply to us to process their application and to monitor recruitment statistics. Where we want to disclose information to a third party, for example where we want to take up a reference or obtain a ‘disclosure’ from the Criminal Records Bureau we will not do so without informing them beforehand unless the disclosure is required by law.

Personal information about unsuccessful candidates will be held for 12 months after the recruitment exercise has been completed; it will then be destroyed or deleted. We may retain anonymised statistical information about applicants to help inform our recruitment activities, but no individuals are identifiable from that data.

Your rights

You have fundamental rights over the data you share with us. These are explained in detail in the Information Commissioners Website, and we are committed to making it as simple as possible for you to exercise them.

  • You may exercise your right to access, erasure or rectification by contacting us to make the request. We encourage you to complete and return a Subject Access Request form, but you may choose to make the request in another format.
  • You have the right to request copies of your data, which we will provide in a suitable format.
  • You have the right not to be subject to an automated decision which may have a significant impact on you.
  • You have the right to object to our processing your data, and if you are unsatisfied with our response complain to the ICO

Our purpose for collecting data

We have to hold the details of the people who contact us in relation to our products and services in order to provide them. However, we only use these details to provide the service the person has requested and for closely-related purposes. Any personal data relating to you will be used and recorded by us in accordance with current data protection legislation and this privacy statement.

For example, we might use information about people who have purchased our products / services to carry out a survey to find out if they are happy with the level of service they received.

If we intend to do anything else with your data we will inform you at the point of consent.

The lawful basis upon which we will collect and store your data is:

  • Explicit Consent – You have agreed that your personal data will be processed.  You have the right to withdraw this consent at any time
  • Contractual necessity – Your personal data will be processed because it is necessary in order to enter into or perform a contract with you
  • Compliance with legal obligations – Your personal data will be processed on the basis that we have a legal obligation to perform such processing

To protect your data we have put in place security precautions which include but are not limited to:

  • Physical and administrative security measures at our offices
  • Firewalls and continuously updated anti-virus programmes
  • Encrypted storage

Our company data is stored in the following locations:

  • On servers in our office in Northern Ireland
  • Across several sites connected by a secure communications system
  • By a secure cloud storage provider with data centres in the European Union.

For the purposes of GDPR, we are resident in the United Kingdom, and regulated by the Information Commissioner’s Office. We do not carry out any data processing outside of the EEA; if that changes, we will inform you.

We do not share data with third parties, other than those whose services we use for social media, payroll, etc. Where we transfer any data to a third party we have put in place all necessary controls to ensure the protection of privacy.

Your data, including the records of any transaction you make with us, will be stored in accordance with our retention policy, and depending upon the nature of the record. For example, financial records will be retained for 7 years as this is common practice.

If you have any questions about us or how we handle your data, please contact us at

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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

Read more about the impact UCIT funding is having by visiting our Client Map to see how your local charities and community organisations are using UCIT loans to make a bigger impact.




385 community
Projects funded

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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.


£2.5 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

£15.4 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.


Greater Shantallow Community Arts

“Greater Shantallow Community Arts originated in 1999 with the purpose of providing alternatives for young people to engage in the arts through programmes incorporating and engaging all sections of the community. We are based in one of the constantly top ranked 10 % of the most deprived communities in Northern Ireland. Last year, we opened our newly refurbished Studio 2 Arts premises and we are building strongly in terms of service users and classes available.
In the interim period we required a bridging loan to offset our capital refurbishment overspends and we approached UCIT for assistance. We were delighted with their support, advice and financial assistance which is helping promote the long term sustainability of our services and for this we are deeply appreciative.” Ollie Green, Artistic Director, Greater Shantallow Community Arts/Studio 2

Sticky Fingers Early Years Arts

“The team at UCIT seem to understand the challenges faced by the arts sector and provided not only the financial support but practical advice on developing a strong business case. The Imaginarium Art Centre was established as a social enterprise with a café and gift shop and has created a mechanism for the organisation to work towards becoming more sustainable. The investment has resulted in the creation of a number of new jobs and training opportunities for emerging artists, childcare workers and those working within the hospitality sector. Most importantly the centre has provided children from across Newry and Northern Ireland with an original and safe space to play, learn and explore their own creative potential.” Grainne Powell, CEO, Sticky Fingers Arts

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

Lurgan YMCA

A Youth Engagement Support programme for young people with learning needs at Lurgan YMCA. A loan from UCIT is assisting the organisation to develop sustainable income streams.

£2.2 million
Invested in Social Housing projects

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



NI Small Business Loan Fund Passes £1m Milestone


The second Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund has approved support to business of over £1m in its first nine months, indicating even stronger demand than for its predecessor Fund. 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 new Fund provides loans up to £100,000 to small businesses, sole traders and partnerships keen to develop their business. Start-up companies can obtain initial loans up to £15,000.<--break->

Barry Connolly, Finance Director of UCIT, said: 

“Ulster Community Finance Ltd was delighted to be appointed manager of the new fund by Invest NI last year. This second Small Business Loan Fund is building upon the success of its predecessor. With loan support now increased to £100,000 per client, the new Fund, over its five-year term, has the potential to lend over £9million to local SMEs.  In the first Fund we supported 400 small businesses and our ambition is to exceed this number in the second Fund.  We support small business right across Northern Ireland and embrace just about every sector.  Funding is available for capital investment, growth related working capital needs, new product and market development; whatever can assist a business to grow and achieve its potential, we are there to help.”

One of the firms to benefit from the Fund is Clogher Valley Precision located near Omagh.  The firm engineers parts used in the manufacture of forklifts, container lifting machines, quarry equipment, agricultural equipment and the marine industry. The company used a £50,000 loan to purchase a new automated machining tool to produce complex components and reduce manufacturing times.

David Gill, Director at Clogher Valley Precision, said:

“For over 15 years we have produced parts for various companies across Ireland such as Combilift in Monaghan. The loan has enabled us to purchase new machinery to help increase production capacity and efficiency. It complements our existing automated machines and allows our workforce to utilise the most up-to-date technologies. 15 years ago UCIT provided a loan to help create our local community centre and that has been a key lifeline for many in the area. Support for SMEs is equally important and this loan will help ensure our business is equipped for future growth.”

William McCulla, Invest Northern Ireland’s Director of Corporate Finance, said:

“The new Small Business Loan Fund has got off to a great start. Applications from companies like Clogher Valley Precision, which is using loan to increase production, demonstrates the continued strong demand from small businesses for finance to help them grow. The Fund continues to be a key aspect of our Access to Finance portfolio, supporting businesses, creating jobs and helping to grow the Northern Ireland economy.”

For further information regarding the NI Small Business Loan Fund please visit 


UCIT launches dedicated £2 Million Fund for Churches and Faith groups

A new £2m fund has been launched by the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) to assist church groups and faith-based organisations across Northern Ireland.

St. James’ Church of Ireland in Moy has invested £657,000 to redevelop the Parish’s church hall and is the first recipient of the new Fund.  UCIT provided a loan of £250,000 towards the final costs.  
Alan Moneypenny, Chairman of UCIT, said: 
“St James’ Parish Hall is situated in the heart of Moy village and attracts up to 250 people a week.  The church is an essential lifeline for many in the community and offers many outreach projects such as a youth club, toddler groups and sporting activities. 
“UCIT are delighted to assist the Parish with the tasteful renovation of the 19th century building, improving access, catering facilities and installing a new heating system.”
He added: “UCIT can provide churches and faith- based organisations with tailored, flexible finance which takes into account the needs of the sector.  As a registered charity all profits generated by UCIT are retained and recycled for the benefit of its clients. There has already been strong interest in our new Faith Fund and this demonstrates the need for additional funding in the sector.”
John White, Glebe Warden and Project Manager, said: 
“Our church hall has been in critical need of repair for a long time. The loan from UCIT has enabled the Parish to create a modern fully accessible facility.  This new hall will help us maintain and build on the valuable work carried out within the area.
“The launch of the new Fund is welcome news for the sector and we were impressed by UCIT’s responsiveness, flexibility and competitive rates”
The new Faith Fund will provide loans of £5,000+ for purposes such as, refurbishments, extensions, purchase of equipment and restructuring existing debt. 
UCIT has supported in excess of 400 community organisations, charities and social enterprises with loan commitments totalling over £80 million. These include other Churches and Faith-based organisations such as the Elim Trust Corporation which received funding to assist with affordable housing and childcare projects in Newtownabbey and Carryduff. 
In many instances the community projects would not have been possible without the flexible, but professional approach adopted by the Trust in its lending.  

Record year for lending to social enterprises and charities

The Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) has revealed record levels of lending to community organisations, charities, social enterprises and small businesses in 2018 with £12m committed across

its business.

Since its inception, UCIT, which is a Registered Charity, has provided loan commitments aggregating £90m to over 500 organisations from a wide range of sectors including the arts, childcare, social care, community regeneration, faith and sports.

Harry McDaid, CEO of UCIT, commented: “Our aim has always been to help organisations grow and continue to have a positive social and economic impact in their community. In essence, we seek to enable communities to enable themselves.   As our loan book grows, so does our impact, with increasing numbers of people benefiting from enhanced facilities, additional services and new opportunities.

“The voluntary sector faces a range of challenges at both a micro and macro level and yet the growth in our loan book points towards an ongoing resilience based on an unbroken commitment to  community.  Despite the challenging and uncertain economic and political outlook, our results reflect the continuing confidence of charities and community organisations to undertake new initiatives geared to the provision of social need.

“In the last year we have launched dedicated funds for the sports sector and childcare sector. Our Building Better Futures Fund, developed in partnership with Building Change Trust and Belfast Charitable Society, tailored to the needs of smaller organisations has proven to be a great success.  Early activity in the current year shows no sign of slowing down and we’re planning to launch a dedicated fund geared to the needs of the Rural Community and one aimed at Faith-Based organisations.”

One of the organisations to benefit from UCIT funding in 2018 was the well known and respected Ortus Group. UCIT has supported the Belfast based Enterprise Agency with a number of projects over the years including the purchase of new office space.  On this occasion, Ortus used the funding to create a soft play area at Dairy Farm Shopping Centre branded “Roar and Explore”.  The funding also helped to create 14 new jobs.

The multi-level play area offers children up to the age of ten the opportunity to play in a safe and fun filled environment. Roar and Explore is a social enterprise with all profits being reinvested back into the area and community.

UCIT funds are available to support a wide range of purposes including property acquisition, capital build projects, the purchase of plant, machinery, equipment and working capital needs.

The UCIT Group also manages the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland. Those interested in finding out more can visit and

One Eighty Restaurant among those 'Served up' £850k by Building Better Futures Fund

A £1million community fund which provides small, unsecured loans to social enterprises and charities has committed £850K to 36 groups in Northern Ireland in just 18 months.

Beneficiaries of the fund have been drawn from right across Northern Ireland with loans ranging from £1,000 to £25,000. Organisations supported include Step by Step which runs the One Eighty restaurant in Portadown to provide hospitality training for young people with learning difficulties.
Since opening in 2011 the award-winning restaurant has provided training to dozens of young people, while offering a comprehensive value-for-money menu to the public.  The Building Better Futures fund provided its support at a time when the business could not realistically have secured mainstream support.
The backers of the Building Better Futures fund, a unique collaboration between three local charities (Belfast Charitable Society, Building Change Trust and the Ulster Community Investment Trust UCIT), believe the success of the fund points to a clear gap in the Northern Ireland loan market.
Nigel Hampton, Director, Step by Step, said:
“Without the support of the Building Better Futures fund, One Eighty was facing closure after the loss of a major funder.   75% of our trainees move on to sustainable employment and the remainder take up other training provision or alternative day opportunities.  This is a vital service for young people and it would have been disastrous for them if the restaurant had closed. 
“The restaurant is very popular, serving 300 paying customers every week. The loan has been instrumental in helping restructure accumulated historic debt into manageable repayments and aiding cash flow.  It has also allowed us to focus on improving income generation and returning the charity to a surplus position.” 
Paula Reynolds, CEO, Belfast Charitable Society, which has been tackling disadvantage since 1752, said:
“Interest in the Building Better Futures fund has exceeded all our expectations and points to a gap in the loan market for smaller, unsecured facilities.  
“The groups assisted by the fund deliver vital social benefits for local communities, but also provide significant relief to public services which would otherwise need to intervene more regularly to help those who require support.” 
One Eighty trainee, Ben, added:
“During my three years at the restaurant I’ve learned barista skills, how to prepare and serve food, as well as health and safety essentials.  Through the course I’ve also secured a work placement and studied English and Maths.
“I now have hospitality skills and employment opportunities which just wouldn’t have been available if it wasn’t for the support of One Eighty’s brilliant staff.”
The fund has also provided £25,000 to create a role-play based centre in Derry-Londonderry, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.  Operated by ‘Kidz Playtime’, the centre’s profits will help subsidise counselling services for local children and young people.
Building Better Futures provides funds for a wide range of purposes including buildings and repairs, equipment purchase, energy efficiency and addressing shortfalls in larger grant assisted projects.  
The fund is managed by the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) which operates a number of funds that have supported over 400 charities and community organisations with loan commitments totalling £80million since 2001.  The third partner in the Fund, Building Change Trust, was established by the Big Lottery Fund with a National Lottery grant of £10million with a vision to support a strong, independent and innovative Third Sector. 
Further information regarding the Fund is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003.

UCIT assist Irish Premiership Club invest in new Community Education & Outreach centre

Crusaders Football Club (FC) is investing £1.2m to build a new education centre that aims to help people in the local area gain qualifications and tackle long-term unemployment.  The investment i
s being supported by the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) and the Social Investment Fund (SIF).
Work has started on the new education hub, named the ‘McDonald Centre’ after Crusaders legend, Roy McDonald, and is due to open at the end of the year.  Located on the site of the former Crusaders FC social club, the centre will be run in partnership with the Hubb Resource Centre.  The collaboration aims to address social deprivation and reduce the impacts of low aspirations, negative peer pressures and residual paramilitarism influence in the area.
Leading education and training providers, People 1st, Belfast Met and Ulster University, will deliver a number of courses and essential skills programmes when the centre opens.
Phelim Sharvin, Associate Director at UCIT, said: 
“This investment, by one of Northern Ireland’s most successful football clubs, will provide an invaluable resource to the local community in the drive to tackle issues which have blighted the area in recent years.  The club is already involved in a number of community initiatives and this further enhances their social impact in the area. 
“The new centre will give people of all ages the chance to further their education and help them get on the employment ladder.  With the backing of leading education providers, people will have access to the resources and mentoring they need to succeed.”
He added: “This is an excellent example of how sporting clubs can build upon their community links by providing easily accessible, innovative services.  UCIT provides a range of funding options and we would encourage other clubs and community groups to contact us to discuss their plans.”
Mark Langhammer, Vice-Chair of Crusaders FC, said: 
“Crusaders FC has been part of the community since 1898 and this is our opportunity to provide an aspirational ‘space’ within our local neighbourhood.  The McDonald Centre will be an education resource for people of all ages.  On Saturday mornings, for example, we aim to host a Coding club for young children whilst their parents can take part in bitesize essential skills programmes.  There will be an apprenticeship programme for talented elite players, and the centre will also provide childcare and after-schools activities and a fitness facility for exercise classes. We are also working with Ulster University’s ‘Taking Boys Seriously’ research team.
“There are significant levels of educational achievement locally but a study by Queens University Belfast found that only 11.7% of local secondary school pupils attend grammar school, the lowest level in Northern Ireland.” 
Club Treasurer of Crusader FC, Tommy Whiteside, commented: 
“Crusaders is proud of its North Belfast heritage and we believe that this investment will help future generations of local people achieve their full potential.  Roy McDonald is a Crusaders living legend and his successes with the club over almost 50 years embodies everything we hope the new centre will achieve.”  
When Crusaders won the Irish League Premiership earlier this year, manager Stephen Baxter dedicated the title to goalkeeping coach, Roy McDonald, who hung up his gloves after 46 years with the club.  Roy joined Crusaders in 1972, playing over 400 games and winning several titles. 
UCIT has supported in excess of 400 community organisations, charities and social enterprises with loan commitments totalling over £80 million.


UCIT puts the 'Fizz' in Clearer Water

A social enterprise based near Larne has had the ‘fizz’ put into its business thanks to a £50K loan from UCIT to purchase a new automatic carbonator.
A social enterprise based near Larne has had the ‘fizz’ put into its business thanks to a £50K loan from UCIT to purchase a new automatic carbonator.
Clearer Water, from Magheramorne, sources and bottles drinking water which is certified as among the best in the UK and Ireland.  The new carbonator has enabled the company to expand its customer base in the hotel and restaurant trade where sparkling water is more popular.  
Production has grown to 10,000 bottles per day and the firm now operates seven-days a week to meet demand.  Clearer Water, which employs 14, has created a relaxing working environment designed to help disadvantaged people who find it difficult to secure normal employment.
Clients include Shu, Ox, James St South, the Fitzwilliam and Lough Erne hotels, Titanic Belfast, Henderson Food Group and a number of up-market delicatessens in London.
Phelim Sharvin, Ulster Community Investment Trust’s (UCIT) Associate Director said:
“Clearer Water is a great example of what social enterprises can deliver - combining commercial success with a vision to improve local communities. Thanks to funding from UCIT, the company has been able to switch from a manual to an automatic carbonator.  This has greatly improved production efficiency and allowed them to win new customers.  
“The importance of social enterprises, community and voluntary groups to Northern Ireland’s economy continues to grow, generating annual revenues in excess of £1.2bn.  Last year UCIT provided a record £14 million to 80 third sector organisations across the island.”
The social enterprise’s water is filtered through three limestone aquifers on the Antrim Plateau and has a pH of 7.8, putting it in the top 10% of UK bottled water.  Each bottle also contains a unique code that allows customers to trace when the water was sourced, the temperature at the time and background details of the staff who bottled it.
David Hunter, Director and co-founder of Clearer Water, said:
“In the past year employment has more than tripled and sales have increased six-fold.  As a company we’re focused on the idea that to be social, we need to be enterprising.  This enables us to provide employment to people who previously had little expectation of holding down a normal job with standard contracts – and that has been life changing for them and their families.
“Demand for bottled-water is projected to increase by over 10% in the next decade, fuelled in the UK by the sugar tax and a greater awareness of diseases such as diabetes.  As the market grows, we expect to increase production and provide further employment opportunities.
“In addition to UCIT we’ve been supported by the Big Lottery, Rural Development Fund, Northern Trust and Henderson Food Group, who were our first customer.  Without them it wouldn’t have been possible for the business to grow as quickly as it has.”
The idea for Clearer Water was sparked by an 18-year long campaign led by co-founder Maureen Hanvey to prevent a local quarry being turned into a landfill site.  Maureen commissioned professional reports of local water quality, providing the provenance and certification Clearer Water would require to sell it as bottled drinking water. 
Clearer Water is a partnership between Acceptable Enterprises Larne, which operates a number of social enterprises and training schemes, and Learning to Grow, a charity specialising in therapeutic horticulture.  Clearer Water is Ireland’s first ethical bottled water company. 
UCIT has supported in excess of 400 organisations with loan commitments totalling over £80 million. In many instances projects would not have been possible without the flexible, but professional approach adopted by the Trust in its lending.  As a charity all profits generated by UCIT are retained and recycled for the benefit of its clients.


Building Better Futures Loan Fund enables Healthy Kidz to invest in growth

Healthy Kidz CIC is an innovative fitness initiative aiming to give physical literacy the same level of importance as academic literacy on the School curriculum.
Initially spearheaded by Tannaghmore Primary School, Lurgan, the project was aimed at promoting pupils to take part in regular physical activity. Interest in the project has grown rapidly since its foundation with 86 schools throughout Northern Ireland and 10,000 pupils already participating weekly.  
To meet this growing demand the organisation has accessed support from the Building Better Futures Fund to provide working capital to assist with initial running costs, allowing the organisation to invest in growth and increase revenue generation.
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 - Building Change Trust, Belfast Charitable Society and Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT). 
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. 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. 
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. 
Kevin Creery of Healthy Kidz explained that the programme has become so successful they now employ nine full time coaches as well as 16 part time coaches. The aim is to get local firms on board and more investment as the company expands across Ireland. The initiative comes at a time in Northern Ireland when our young people's interest and engagement in physical activity is the lowest in the UK and the worst in history while levels of obesity and diabetes continue to rise. 
Children have various strands of fitness goals including access to an App which allows them to follow their progress.
Building Better Futures 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 Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) on 028 9031 5003.
£6.9 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
Erskine Holmes OBE
Elected member of NI Council Co-operative Group
Jim Malone
Director/Founder Member of Ardee Community Development Company
Michael McGarrigle
Secretary of Council for the West
Douglas McIldoon
Secretary of NI Co-operative Forum
Seamus O’Prey
Chief Executive of ORTUS Group
Ian McAvoy
Chair, Playboard
Martin Stroud
Board Member of Ulster Waterways
Anthony Barbour
Board Member, NI Co-operative Forum
Audrey Murray
Business Development Manager, LEDCOM
William Patterson
Chairman, Farset International
Gary McQuoid
Director at Extern Ireland, NOW Group, Francina Foundation and GJJA Associates Limited.

Community Finance (Ireland) Directors

Alan Moneypenny Chair
Chair of Finance and Audit committee, Riverside Theatre
Michael McGarrigle Vice Chair
Secretary of Council for the West
Kevin Helferty
Director of Buncrana Credit Union Ltd
Jim Malone
Director/Founder Member of Ardee Community Development Company
William Patterson
Director of Farset Development Ltd.
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
Terri Martin Office Administrator
Barry Symes Client Relationship Executive
Rose Hally Client Relationship Executive
Fiona Hughes Client Relationship Executive

Download and view our latest reports

Social Impact & Financial Highlights Report 2017

Social Impact & Financial Highlights Report 2016

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