Responsible and Sustainable Business

At Bank of Ireland UK, behaving in a responsible and sustainable way is fundamental to achieving our purpose of enabling our customers, colleagues and communities to thrive.

Begin Together – helping our communities to thrive

Belonging to a vibrant supportive community can be incredibly rewarding. But great communities and thriving towns don’t just happen. They need tireless commitment and active support.

Fortunately, in every town and village there are people, businesses and organisations working hard to make things better for everyone. Bank of Ireland Begin Together supports them and their work in communities all across the island of Ireland.

Begin Together is a £2.5 million investment Bank of Ireland is making over three years, launched in Northern Ireland in February 2020 to improve the financial, physical and mental wellbeing of Ireland’s communities while supporting the underlying local economies.

Following the Bank’s donation of £910k (€1m) in emergency funding to communities impacted by COVID-19 in March, we will be injecting an additional £910k to local communities and a range of organisations over the coming months. This will be disbursed primarily through our Begin Together programme.

Begin Together is an all-island initiative with three strands – the Begin Together Fund, the Begin Together Awards and Begin Together Fund for Colleagues. Each strand has a specific purpose and combined will deliver a significant positive impact on communities across Ireland.

Let’s Begin Together.

  • Begin Together Fund

    Bank of Ireland UK has announced £100,000 in funding for 25 projects and organisations across Northern Ireland from Begin Together Fund. The financial support will help local community groups and non-profit organisations continue to serve their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured following the announcement are Patrick Frew from Cloughmills Community Action Team, Siofra Healy, Director of Philanthropy, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, who supported the bank in selecting the top projects in Northern Ireland along with William Thompson, Head of Consumer Banking NI, Bank of Ireland UK and Sean Bruen from Kith and Kin Financial Wellbeing, based in Co. Antrim.

    The Begin Together Fund provides valuable investment for community initiatives that will make a real difference in towns and villages across all counties on the island of Ireland.

    We want to get behind those trying to make the lives of others in their communities better.

    Our Begin Together Fund supports new and existing project-based activities with grants of up to £4,000 for local, not for profit groups working to improve the financial physical and/or mental wellbeing of the communities they serve.

    Whatever their ideas, we want to help them to succeed.

    In March 2020, Bank of Ireland launched a £910k (€1m) Emergency Fund to support communities with urgent needs arising from Covid-19. £460k has been fast-tracked to 13 groups across the island of Ireland to support children and older people, domestic abuse, rural isolation, cancer support, mental health and food distribution. The remaining £460k has been donated to The Community Foundation For Ireland and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 Funds to help local charities and community groups helping vulnerable individuals and groups at this difficult time.

    In July 2020,25 projects from all over Northern Ireland will each receive up to £4,500 to support a range of projects and initiatives spanning financial wellbeing, mental health, disability, social isolation, social deprivation, and sport. We are working with The Community Foundation for Ireland which administers the fund, and was supported by The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland in selecting the top 25 projects in Northern Ireland.

    Two of the projects to receive funds are:

    Cloughmills Community Action Team which offers a range of supports to help people lead more sustainable lives. The funds will enable them to run an initial 9-week programme for young people and adults including gardening, yoga and natural crafts – to support their physical and mental wellbeing.

    Kith and Kin Financial Wellbeing, based in Co. Antrim helps people manage their finances better. The Begin Together fund will support the delivery of a programme called ‘Preparing for work and home life’ to 16 to 30-year-olds, in Belfast. Topics will range from payslips to pensions and how the different elements of your finances work together and can impact your life. By developing financial skills, the programme will nurture resilience and self-confidence and improve financial and mental wellbeing.

    Other projects receiving funding include a group working with vulnerable migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Derry/Londonderry; a parent’s support group for children with Down Syndrome; community groups working to combat high levels of deprivation; a foundation working to deliver inclusive beaches for people of all abilities; and an initiative to help train and support people back into the job market.

    A full list of 2020 grantees and further information is available here:
    bankofireland.com/begin-together-fund/

  • Begin Together Awards

    Our Begin Together Awards 2020 is a new Award scheme available for the first time in Northern Ireland, with a prize fund of £180,000 to support towns locally and across the island of Ireland as they reboot and recover from the impact of COVID-19.
     
    The Awards will bring business and community groups together to support local recovery and rebuilding as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and people get back to work. The initiative will be fast-tracked to provide funding to winning towns by the beginning of October and directly assist their COVID-19 recovery
     
    There are 21 monetary prizes available across 10 categories with an overall winner receiving £45,000 and the title of ‘Most Enterprising Town’. There is also a prize of £18,000 for the winner of the ‘Rising Star’ award.
     
    Reflecting the challenge that communities and businesses currently face because of the pandemic, there are three special COVID-response awards:

    • Local Town Promotion Initiative -. A marketing or promotional campaign designed to help kick start the local economy.
    • Local Community Enterprise Initiative – A local enterprise initiative established specifically to ease the impact of COVID-19 or one that repurposed itself during the pandemic and was ready to begin operation on the easing of restrictions.
    • Local Business and Community Response Initiative – A joint initiative by local businesses and the community to manage the impact of COVID-19 through lockdown and beyond as towns start to reopen.

    The closing date for Begin Together Award entries is 24 August. For more information on the awards and for application forms, please visit bankofireland.com/begintogetherawards.

  • Begin Together Fund for Colleagues
    Begin Together Fund for Colleagues supports those local not-for-profit organisations across the UK which Bank of Ireland colleagues are personally involved with.

    Over ten weeks during lockdown, our colleagues have shown their support for local charities and community groups that are supporting those that have been impacted by Covid-19.

    Through colleague nominations, funding has been allocated to 80 UK charities and community groups, totalling £32,500.

    Here are a few of their stories:

    – As an 80 year old charity, Yeadon Charities Association normally provides theatre to the local community and supports the elderly. Since the committee have been unable to perform this year, they’ve turned their creative hands instead to making over 160 sweat head bands, 24 sets of scrubs and over 90 reusable PPE bags for the Local NHS teams. Nominated by a colleague in Marshall Leasing.

    – Destined are a charity that provides meals and care to the vulnerable at this time. Sadly their premises were ransacked and the kitchen facilities destroyed just before lockdown. However with the help of the local community and volunteers they now provide in excess of 100 meals per day to the vulnerable, with future plans to support more rural areas.

    – Our team at Belfast City Branch has supported Belfast Homeless Services for the past few years. Belfast Homeless Services is a local voluntary organisation which operates a drop in centre in Belfast in the evenings, they provide hot food, clothing, sleeping bags and toiletries to the local homeless people, and have continued to provide this much needed service throughout Covid-19.

    – As a member of Brislington Womens Institute, a colleague from our Mortgages Direct team has been making Scrub bags for NHS workers to put their ‘dirty’ scrubs in. It started with a small number requested by one department and now they have made over 7500, along with several thousand mask extenders, which have been supplied out to the ambulance services, various health centres, HMP Bristol and Dartmoor Prison.

    – Kids Together is a Charity/Community organisation that supports children and young people with disabilities and their families. The organisation is deemed as an essential service, so the building has remained open to provide children with severe and complex needs the opportunity to keep their routine in as normal a way as is possible, along with providing much needed respite to their parents. Nominated by a colleague in Northern Ireland.