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– £18 million social finance provided to Northern Ireland voluntary sector since 2016 –

Kilcreggan Homes, an independent charity that provides housing, day and employment opportunities for adults with a Learning Disability, Autistic Spectrum Condition or an acquired brain injury, is expanding its residential accommodation offering with £85k support from social finance providers, Community Finance Ireland.

The charity has received a total funding package of £240k from Community Finance Ireland in 2023. The package includes refinancing of existing accommodation loans, £85k towards the purchase of a property to support the rehabilitation of a client with complex needs and a £5k charitable donation to Kilcreggan Homes, towards developing its Mid Ulster Sanctuary site near Magherafelt.

Since 2016, Community Finance Ireland has supported 166 social enterprises and organisations from across the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland, with a total of £18.1 million in social finance loans.

Phelim Sharvin, Head of Community Finance Ireland, Northern Ireland said:

“The team at Kilcreggan Homes is hugely ambitious and has worked hard to widen the organisation’s portfolio in the past year. Across multiple sites including an urban farm and supported living properties in Carrickfergus, the charity helps 160 clients every week and achieves a clear social impact through the delivery of a high quality essential care service. Community Finance Ireland has provided £18million in social finance to Northern Ireland’s voluntary sector since 2016 and we’re proud that almost a third of that has gone to organisations like Kilcreggan Homes, which delivers Community Services and Health and Wellbeing services.”

Kilcreggan Homes Community Finance IReland
L-R, Phelim Sharvin, Head of Community Finance Ireland, Northern Ireland, Damien Cassidy, Managing Director of Kilcreggan Homes and service users Lynn and Grace pictured at Kilcreggan Homes Garden Centre.

Damien Cassidy, Managing Director of Kilcreggan Homes said:

“The financial support from Community Finance Ireland allowed us to restructure existing debt and in turn to plan for the purchase of a property in Newtownabbey and develop our Mid Ulster site. As well as our urban farm, our café, garden centre and pop up Christmas shop welcome 15,000 visitors annually and provide service users with training, day opportunities and employment.. We have a resource centre where they can socialise and the purchase of the residential properties close by means we can now also offer further independent living opportunities to complex needs service users. We very much appreciate the advice from Phelim and his highly experienced team throughout the process, along with their enthusiasm for our vision.”

Read more stories from Community Finance Ireland’s clients here.

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First cross-border workshop held in Derry~Londonderry as part of delivery programme for project supported through the International Fund for Ireland.

An ambitious cross-border project is bringing people together to deliver a capacity building programme that will make border communities more sustainable.

NetWORKS23 is funded by the International Fund for Ireland’s (IFI) Communities in Partnership Programme (CiPP). It has a strong focus on developing and embedding sustainable relationships on a cross-border basis through supporting cooperation and innovation between groups and organisations North and South.

The project is being led by Community Finance Ireland in partnership with Rural Community Network. Both organisations bring a wealth of experience in social enterprise, finance, peace building and reconciliation.

Through a shared learning approach, NetWORKS 23 will facilitate cross-community and cross-border engagement with people who have had limited opportunities for collaborative working. The Project targets community and voluntary organisations in Derry, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Fermanagh, Donegal and Tyrone.

Attending Networks23 event in Greysteel were left to right: Damian McAteer Community Finance Ireland Group Chair, Donal Traynor, Community Finance Ireland Group CEO, Columba Mailey, Manager of the Vale Centre, Bridie Mullen, Board Director Vale Centre and Paddy Harte IFI Chair.

Participants to date have attended residentials in Sligo and a cross-border workshop in Greysteel at the Vale Centre. The daylong seminar provided practical insight into the Vale Centre’s commercial activities,  revenue generation and how a social enterprise approach feeds into the public and social services offered to the wider community.

NetWORKS23 aims to build progressive partnerships that will deliver meaningful benefits for communities on both sides of the border and raise awareness of the issues and challenges while also contributing to the wider peace building work of the IFI.

Commenting on the project, IFI Chair Paddy Harte says;

“The NetWORKS23 Project is timely as border areas have traditionally suffered from isolation, lack of investment and the ongoing legacy of The Troubles. It is important to examine how we can improve reconciliation between rural Unionist and Nationalist communities to help build resilience and develop local leadership. This initiative will provide the necessary training for participants to examine the long-term development of their own projects within a wider peace and reconciliation context.

The IFI is committed to delivering cross-community and cross-border outreach, encouraging challenging conversations to deal with a range of issues. We are particularly pleased to support this project under CiPP, which values innovation and the creation of positive and long-lasting relationships between cross-border communities who share similar challenges.”

Donal Traynor Group CEO of Community Finance Ireland had this to say:

“Community Finance Ireland are delighted to lend their support to this cross-border initiative. Our support for the ongoing prosperity and development of all communities has been in place for over 21 years and our commitment remains for this generation and the next.”

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The city of Derry~Londonderry has long been synoymous with Halloween. Known as the Halloween Capital of Europe and voted the best place in the world to celebrate it.

The festival returns in 2022 and will run from Friday 28th October right through until Halloween night. Featuring family orientated activities like monster making arts and crafts, a pumpkin hunt and Halloween storytelling. For older visitors there is cemetery tours, a dress up silent disco and music gigs from Alabama 3 and Hudson Taylor. There’s also a big fireworks finale.

If you are visiting Derry~Londonderry this Halloween, this is a also a perfect opportunity to visit some of the local social enterprises in the area. Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these local visitor experiences’ core purpose is social impact as well as visitors’ enjoyment.

Access to the Arts for All

Greater Shantallow Arts is a community arts organisation that aims to provide direct access to the arts within disadvantaged communities in the Greater Shantallow Area/Outer North Region of Derry. Their Studio 2 premises is one of Ireland’s best loved Arts centres. The group provide a range of activities from theatre shows to classes and workshops. The highlight of their year is their partnership with North West Carnival to create a wonderful Halloween Carnival.

Sensory Support

ASpace2 MultiSensory Centre provides day opportunities for adults and children with additional needs. The five multi-sensory rooms are designed to ensure that children and young adults with additional support needs are able to access a community facility which is age appropriate and is meaningful regardless of ability.

Book your Choice – there’s loads to choose from:

New Gate Arts & Culture Centre is a vibrant arts and culture centre located in the Fountain area of the city. Close to the historic walls and the city centre it offers a range of workshops, classes, performances, talks, tours, festivals and cultural events with something for everyone.

Inclusive Coffee taste:

The Whistle Stop Café is found on Derry’s Foyle Road and is part of the North West Learning Disability Centre. It is the perfect stop for a bite to eat or a delicious baked treat after a visit to the nearby St Columb’s Cathedral. The café is a fantastic social enterprise that offers employment opportunities to people with disabilities. 

History Buffs this way:

The Museum of Free Derry is dedicated to telling the story of what happened in the city between the years 1968 and 1972. Located in Derry’s Bogside where the events of Bloody Sunday unfolded, particular focus is paid to those most involved and effected by these events. The exhibition aims to remember and help understand the local history of the city and its contribution to the ground breaking civil rights struggle which erupted in Derry in the mid-1960s and culminated in the massacre on Bloody Sunday. A must see for any history aficionados.

Visit the Farm and make new friends

Just a 20 minute drive outside of the city, Gortilea Social Farm provides a space for practical, meaningful and enjoyable day experiences in a rural environment irrespective of ability or disability. Visitors can look after a range of livestock from sheep, cattle and horses as well as learning about growing and cooking healthy meals. Providing both indoor and outdoor activities ensures that there is something to do no matter the weather conditions. 

Spending your time and money in these venues not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that,  the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#Social Time is always a good time.