Ardoyne’s shop fronts are to get a new lease of life with the assistance of the Building Better Futures Fund. The 0.1-acre derelict site has planning permission for a three-storey retail and office development.

The Ardoyne Youth Enterprise (AYE), a youth and community development organisation, which reaches out to young people on the streets of Ardoyne and Marrowbone, now hopes to progress their plans to transform this site into a building and space suitable for young people as well as for local businesses.

The AYE is one of many beneficiaries that 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, which is keen to assist those in North Belfast and has been addressing disadvantage since the late 1700s; the Building Change Trust; and the Ulster Community Investment Trust, which manages the fund and is one of the UK’s largest providers of social finance.

Director of AYE, Shane Whelehan explains; “Ardoyne Youth Enterprise is very excited about this project. Not only are we giving life to three derelict shops on the Crumlin Road, Belfast but we are also investing in our community and our young people.

“This loan from the Building Better Futures Fund has allowed us to part finance the acquisition of these three derelict shops and affords us the opportunity to progress our plans to transform this site into a building and space where young people can learn and thrive, and where youth provider organisations and local businesses can deliver their services in a modern and attractive facility. It also gives us the opportunity to sustain youth work jobs for the area going forward.”

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.

Paula Reynolds, CEO of Belfast Charitable Society, one of the charities behind the Fund said, “Given our philanthropic ethos and that the Ardoyne Youth Enterprise is on our doorstep in North Belfast, we are very pleased that the Fund and this loan can assist this organisation and the committed work they carry out within the community.”

The Fund has supported several other organisations in this area including the community care organisation, 174 Trust and professional counselling service, Jigsaw Community

Counselling Services.

Paula continued; “The Belfast Charitable Society at Clifton House is embedded in the history of Belfast and in particular North Belfast. Our founding fathers set up the society to help those less fortunate. We are only too happy to be able to continue to aid those in need in our society today, all be it in a small way.”

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 totaling £80million since 2001.

The third partner in the Fund, Building Change Trust was established in 2008 as part of a 10 year £10 million pound strategy to help develop Northern Ireland’s voluntary and community sector by 2018. The Trust was established thanks to the investment from the Big Lottery (now National Lottery Community Fund). The Building Change Trust, having completed it remit, closed operations in December 2018.

Further information regarding the Fund is available by contacting UCIT on 028 9031 5003 or visiting