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.
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