A popular County Down playgroup that was on the verge of closure only three years ago has secured vital funding of £12,000 to help modernise its offering.
Chirpy Chicks Playgroup has been providing a playgroup service to Greyabbey and the surrounding district for over 30 years and was taken over by Nick and Jill Moore in 2016.
The playgroup is one of many beneficiaries to have received a share of the £1m Building Better Futures Fund, which provides support in the way of a loan. The Fund is a unique collaboration between the Belfast Charitable Society, the Building Change Trust; and the Ulster Community Investment Trust, which manages the fund.
Nick Moore, Director at Chirpy Chicks Playgroup, commented:
“Jill and I have a vision for a modern, progressive pre-school making best use of resources and technology to provide children with a fun and engaging experience to foster a love of learning. Since taking over the business in 2016, we have steadily grown the number of spaces on offer. We now have children travelling from as far away as Newtownards and Portaferry.
“The loan from the Building Better Futures Fund has allowed us to buy IT equipment for the staff and children to use at the pre-school and our upcoming after-school club, and special needs equipment to make the setting accessible for all. There is a demand for this service in the area but unfortunately funding isn’t readily available. The support from the Building Better Futures Fund means we can differentiate ourselves from similar groups in the area to provide children with a unique fun and engaging experience.”
As a result of demand from the childcare sector, Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) has recently developed a new £1m fund dedicated to assisting community led childcare and family support programmes across Northern Ireland.
Peter Smyth, Client Executive at UCIT, said:
“Community childcare organisations are struggling to gain funding through traditional lending sources and are increasingly looking towards social finance as a means to support their ambitions. There is a growing demand for funding assistance and we felt it was fitting to launch a dedicated fund tailored to the specific needs of these organisations.
“Our aim is to help as many family support programmes as possible as they continue to play a vital role in the local community. We have invested over £1.5m into childcare and family support projects across Northern Ireland including a multi-sensory centre in Derry and children’s day care facilities in a number of locations including Ballymoney, Enniskillen and Eskra. Loans are available to support a wide range of purposes including property acquisition, capital build projects, equipment purchase, bridging finance and working capital.”
Since its inception in 2001, UCIT has supported in excess of 400 community organisations, charities and social enterprises with loan commitments totalling over £90 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 registered charity all profits generated by UCIT are retained and recycled for the benefit of its clients.
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