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Workspace Turning A Profit to Help Local Community Projects


Pupils from St Colm’s High School, Draperstown at the launch of the Workspace Community Fund with Robin Gawne, Workspace Company Accountant and Barbara Woods, Community Projects Officer (CFNI).

Workspace, one of Northern Ireland’s leading social enterprises, has announced groundbreaking plans to donate a percentage of its profits to support projects directly in the local community. A total of £20,000 is initially being made available to fund small-scale community projects.

Draperstown-based organisation Workspace, has just announced details of its new Community Fund, which offers local groups access to small parcels of much needed funds. Grants of up to £250 will provide financial assistance to voluntary and community groups that want to make a positive impact in the local area.

The Fund was created following consultation with local community groups on the best way to support their projects. At the same time the initiative reflects Workspace’s origins as a community based organisation in mid-Ulster.

Workspace Chief Executive, Brian Murray explains:

“The Workspace business model sees us run commercial businesses which generate surpluses part of which are used to fund local projects. Up to now these projects have included The Rural College, the Backrow Recreation Centre, the Corn Store Youth Club and the After School Club. We have now taken the decision to return a percentage of our profits directly to the local community to enable projects that otherwise just wouldn’t happen. This reflects what Workspace is about since it was founded – helping the local community in a practical way.”

“After consulting with local community groups, we learned that they felt a large number of small funding packages of up to £250 would be a better way to distribute the funds than a small number of large scale packages.”

The funds will be distributed via The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI), who have been retained by Workspace to administer the process. Interestingly it was CFNI’s predecessor organisation Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust who provided a small grant to help Workspace be established in 1985.

“The community groups we spoke to were very excited about the Fund and they also asked that the process be as simple as possible – people definitely are put off by bureaucracy, so the application process is fair to all sides and easy to complete.”

And now, the announcement of the Workspace Community Fund is a unique opportunity for small local organisations to avail of seedcorn funding for projects that otherwise simply wouldn’t happen.

Community groups and organisations in the Ballinascreen. Kilcronaghan, Tobermore and Desertmartin areas are eligible to apply.

Brian said: “Workspace has its roots in these areas, and we are delighted to be in a position to put something more back. And we hope to continue to do so as these voluntary groups are at the heart of our community.”

The Workspace business portfolio includes Homeseal, Network Recruitment, Ivents, Network Personnel, and Environment 2000 as well as a portfolio of enterprise units in the Magherafelt District Council Area that have facilitated numerous local small businesses. Workspace also manages the Draperstown After School Club and the Backrow Recreation Centre in Draperstown. The organisation operates throughout Northern Ireland as well as having offices in Letterkenny, Glasgow and Dundee.