New community-owned sports facility a step closer after funding secured

30 October 2018

Co-op Foundation one of the key funders for Ballymacash Sports Academy

A new state-of-the-art community and sports academy in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, is a step closer thanks to a successful community share offer invested in by local people and co-operative partners, including the Co-op Foundation.

Ballymacash Sports Academy, which will be used by more than 3,000 people a year, has successfully raised £225,000 to start the first phase of building work.

This will include new football training pitches, a car park and landscaping. Further phases of work will see a new social club, community rooms and community gym built on site.

Co-op’s charity, the Co-op Foundation invested £50,000 into the community share offer as part of its Community Spaces programme. This is designed to create sustainable community spaces where local people can build connections and enjoy shared interests. The Foundation also provided a £25,000 grant. Grant support of £50,000 has also been provided by the Alpha Programme.

Once work is complete, the academy will be the first community-run sports academy in Northern Ireland.

__Neil Woolsey at Ballymacash Sports Academy, said: “__We are extremely grateful to the Co-op Foundation for not only their financial support but for the confidence they have shown in the BenCom from the outset. We hope that the Co-op Foundation, as a shareholder will play an active role in the Academy in the coming years.”

Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation, said: “Spaces for local people to come together are vitally important for building stronger communities. Our funding for Ballymacash Sports Academy will help ensure this new community service will have a sustainably-funded future so it can connect and empower more people for the long-term. We’re delighted to be backing this exciting venture in partnership with the local community and we looking forward to seeing the impact it has.”

The Ballymacash share offer was launched with the help of the Building Change Trust’s Community Shares Ready! Programme run by Co-operative Alternatives. This is an organisation dedicated to supporting co-operative and community-led development.

Building work on the community and sports centre is expected to be complete by 2023.

For more information on Ballymacash Sports Academy, visit

Anyone who runs a community organisation and thinks they may be eligible for funding from the Co-op Foundation should email Alternatively, find out more at


Notes to Editors

About Co-op Foundation ● We are the Co-op’s charity, set up to help communities UK-wide work together to make things better. ● We are the leading funder of projects tackling youth loneliness in the UK. Our ‘Belong’ programme aims to connect and empower at least 5,000 young people while also strengthening youth services and tackling stigma associated with loneliness. ● We also provide interest-free loans and grants to eligible organisations looking to grow sustainably-funded community spaces. ● Co-op Foundation is a working name of Co-operative Community Investment Foundation, a charity registered in England and Wales (1093028) and Scotland (SC048102).

The Co-op also supports local groups through its Local Community Fund. When members buy own brand products they receive a 5% reward for themselves with a further 1% going to local causes. Since the membership scheme launched in September 2016, Co-op Members in Northern Ireland have raised £215,000 for 129 causes.