Start Here was launched in early 2022, after the Rank Foundation was awarded £9.9m from the Department for Communities Northern Ireland to deliver a Skills & Employment programme for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) and Sports sectors.

The programme aims to reduce unemployment and develop new talent for the VCSE and Sports sectors in Northern Ireland by funding a 3-year post.

The post-holders’ job enhanced prospects and skills alongside strengthen the organisation and sectors to aid recovery and sustainability. These sectors will ultimately bring wider benefits to Norther Ireland citizens.

Our new Community Development Assistant has brought an enthusiasm and freshness to the staff/volunteer team which has energised the whole organisation beyond our expectations.”

The Department for Communities provided funding to the Art, Creative industries, Heritage, Sports and Voluntary and Community Sectors to address employment and skills deficits which have arisen, as a result of, or been exacerbated by, the COVID19 pandemic.

The Department for Communities appointed the Rank Foundation to deliver this programme to organisations specifically within the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector and the Sports sector, in the form of the Start Here programme.

Organisations selected for the Start Here programme were funded to hire an entry level staff member who will then take part in a three-year development programme.

Post-holders are invited to a launch event, learning events, and conferences. They also join Rank’s Network so they can interact with and learn from other members.

Applications were accepted from not-for-profits working in the Sports and VCSE sectors across Northern Ireland.

Start Here currently supports 75 VCSE and 25 sports organisations in Northern Ireland.