Today, Monday 30th October 2023, Belfast Charitable Society marked the end of The Barbour Fund with a special event held in Clifton House. The celebration event brought together members of the Barbour family; Board and staff of Belfast Charitable Society; and representatives of those organisations who, over the last nine years of the Fund, have received grants to carry out projects and activities in north Belfast and Lisburn.
The Hilden Society and the Belfast Charitable Society came together to create ‘The Barbour Fund’ in March 2014. Both organisations shared a long and successful history of caring for older people and working to improve the lives of those who were disadvantaged, making the philanthropic partnership a perfect fit.
Over the last nine years, The Barbour Fund, distributed by Belfast Charitable Society, has provided just under £200,000 of funding to a wide variety of projects including further and higher education bursaries; job linked training programmes for those furthest from the labour market; an array of resources to help young people outside of mainstream education; and a variety of projects for older people.
Sir Ronnie Weatherup, President of Belfast Charitable Society, commented “Through a targeted and focused approach, The Barbour Fund has made such a difference to people’s lives. Over 1,000 older people have benefitted from activities and outings; a further 240 older people benefitted from improvements in their environment via art and horticulture; while another 265 enjoyed volunteering opportunities. For younger people, the Fund supported the development of four new training courses, training 110 individuals in work-based courses, while a further 40 developed new skills. The Fund also supported 14 students at Belfast Met and Queens Universities, to name but a few highlights”.
During Covid, the Belfast Charitable Society continued to distribute funds to those who needed it most, including providing must needed PPE to allow activities to continue to vulnerable children and adults and by providing sensory boxes to 12 families with children with emotional regulation and challenging behaviour during lock down.
Elise Coburn, a member of the Barbour Family, said “On behalf of the Barbour family, we want to thank Belfast Charitable Society for all their efforts in distributing these funds in such a targeted way, and really providing a lasting legacy of philanthropy for our family. When we first started working together in 2014, we couldn’t have anticipated the extent of the impact the funds would have on people’s lives. It has been such a privilege to meet some of the recipients today, and hear about this impact first-hand.”
The Belfast Charitable Society is the oldest charity in Ireland, and in addition to distributing grants on its own behalf, continues to manage and distribute the funds of a number of families, trusts and societies.
Sir Ronnie explains “Although we are sad that The Barbour Fund has come to a natural end, the Belfast Charitable Society continues to target disadvantage through its various initiatives, which includes offering advice and guidance to other wealthy families and trusts on establishing philanthropic activities, ensuring that funds address real need in the most efficient way possible.