The Start Here programme was launched this year to create new jobs in the Sports, Voluntary, Community & Social Enterprise (VCSE) sectors in Northern Ireland. The programme will support not-for-profit organisations over the next three years by funding the salaries of new entry-level job roles. Each post will receive the Real Living Wage and there is additional funding for training and upskilling existing employees, to continue to develop their career and assist the charity sector to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Demand for funding was extremely high with outstanding quality applications, demonstrating the need to invest in new roles and training across the community, voluntary and sports sectors.  The Start Here programme will support 100 organisations with funding in excess of £9 million.

Kai Wooder, Director of Programmes at The Rank Foundation confirmed her delight at working across the N.I. social sector, “the Start Here Programme provides a great opportunity to bring about needs-driven changes in the sector.  The Rank Foundation is delighted to be working at both a strategic and grassroots level over the next three years, investing in new roles in voluntary, community and sports organisations”.

The Turnaround Project

“Staff and volunteers at The Turnaround Project are so excited about being a recipient of the Start Here grants programme. To be able to offer an entry level route into the voluntary sector will go some way to be able to recognise the untapped talent there is amongst the young people living in our communities. The three-year entry-level post funded by Start Here will allow the person we recruit to develop their leadership and technical skills through the associated programme of development and support, whilst our organisation will benefit from developing its own financial and social data management capabilities. We feel very privileged to be able to play a role in a programme that has the foresight to recruit and develop the future leaders of the voluntary sector in NI”


“WOMEN’STEC are delighted to be awarded funding from the Start Here programme. This comes at a time when we are dealing with increasing demand for our services and so to be able to offer a project officer role to someone at the beginning of their career journey who is seeking to develop their skills, knowledge, and experience in the third sector, whilst increasing our capacity to deliver, is a great opportunity for everyone involved. It is also fantastic to be able to offer a three- year post rather than a one-year post. This gives the person time to grow and develop personally and professionally with the support of our team and the programme, whilst also giving us security of a role that is important for our delivery over the next three years. We are grateful to The Rank Foundation for this opportunity and to be involved with the programme.”


“Bytes are absolutely delighted that we have been selected to be partner with The Rank Foundation to deliver Start Here. This programme will enable an individual to spend the next three years working to improve digital inclusion within Bytes and across our members and colleagues in the VCSE sector. At Bytes we will support this individual to develop their networks and leadership across the sector ensuring they experience the challenges and satisfaction of working in this fantastic sector. This investment from The Rank Foundation will ensure Bytes continues to be a source of innovation as we support organisations that work with young people to improve their digital ecosystems.”


Congratulations to all the organisations The Rank Foundation is very excited for the journey ahead over the next three years.