Administrator Position with Belfast Charitable Society

Administrator Position with Belfast Charitable Society

Belfast Charitable Society Clifton House News
Belfast Charitable Society (BCS) are looking for an enthusiastic, self-motivated, dedicated and flexible Administrator with a keen eye for detail to join our growing team.

Working with us as an Administrator offers an excellent opportunity to gain experience in the Charity and Heritage sector, and to develop and enhance your own skill set. You will be providing administrative support and assistance alongside our encouraging team to ensure the successful delivery of all our department needs. You will report directly to the Chief Executive Officer.

This is an excellent opportunity for someone who wants to work within a historic organisation and work across wide and varied functions of an organisation.

Closing Date for applications: 12noon Monday 4th December 2023. To find out more, and to access all the relevant documentation, including application form, visit:

Interviews will be held during the afternoons of 11th / 12th & 14th December 2023.

Marking the significant contribution of The Barbour Fund

Marking the significant contribution of The Barbour Fund

Belfast Charitable Society Clifton House News Uncategorised

Today, Monday 30th October 2023, Belfast Charitable Society marked the end of The Barbour Fund with a special event held in Clifton House. The celebration event brought together members of the Barbour family; Board and staff of Belfast Charitable Society; and representatives of those organisations who, over the last nine years of the Fund, have received grants to carry out projects and activities in north Belfast and Lisburn.

The Hilden Society and the Belfast Charitable Society came together to create ‘The Barbour Fund’ in March 2014. Both organisations shared a long and successful history of caring for older people and working to improve the lives of those who were disadvantaged, making the philanthropic partnership a perfect fit.

Over the last nine years, The Barbour Fund, distributed by Belfast Charitable Society, has provided just under £200,000 of funding to a wide variety of projects including further and higher education bursaries; job linked training programmes for those furthest from the labour market; an array of resources to help young people outside of mainstream education; and a variety of projects for older people.

Sir Ronnie Weatherup, President of Belfast Charitable Society, commented “Through a targeted and focused approach, The Barbour Fund has made such a difference to people’s lives. Over 1,000 older people have benefitted from activities and outings; a further 240 older people benefitted from improvements in their environment via art and horticulture; while another 265 enjoyed volunteering opportunities. For younger people, the Fund supported the development of four new training courses, training 110 individuals in work-based courses, while a further 40 developed new skills. The Fund also supported 14 students at Belfast Met and Queens Universities, to name but a few highlights”.Barbour Celebration event


During Covid, the Belfast Charitable Society continued to distribute funds to those who needed it most, including providing must needed PPE to allow activities to continue to vulnerable children and adults and by providing sensory boxes to 12 families with children with emotional regulation and challenging behaviour during lock down.

Elise Coburn, a member of the Barbour Family, said “On behalf of the Barbour family, we want to thank Belfast Charitable Society for all their efforts in distributing these funds in such a targeted way, and really providing a lasting legacy of philanthropy for our family. When we first started working together in 2014, we couldn’t have anticipated the extent of the impact the funds would have on people’s lives. It has been such a privilege to meet some of the recipients today, and hear about this impact first-hand.”

The Belfast Charitable Society is the oldest charity in Ireland, and in addition to distributing grants on its own behalf, continues to manage and distribute the funds of a number of families, trusts and societies.

Sir Ronnie explains “Although we are sad that The Barbour Fund has come to a natural end, the Belfast Charitable Society continues to target disadvantage through its various initiatives, which includes offering advice and guidance to other wealthy families and trusts on establishing philanthropic activities, ensuring that funds address real need in the most efficient way possible.

Belfast Charitable Society doubles its efforts to feed hundreds of children this winter

Belfast Charitable Society doubles its efforts to feed hundreds of children this winter

Belfast Charitable Society Clifton House News

No one thought a year on that the impact of the cost-of-living crisis would be worse on families across Northern Ireland (NI), particularly north Belfast. Already one of the most deprived areas in NI, continued pressures on finances has made the situation dire, as families struggle to provide the basics.

David Watters, Chair of the Belfast Charitable Society, commented “Last year, for the first time, the Belfast Charitable Society agreed to fund school meals in post primary schools across Northern Ireland to help alleviate some of the financial pressures on families most in need. We hoped that this year the need would not be as great again, but unfortunately it is. Basic essentials like food, heating, warm winter coats and shoes are now just out of reach for some, due to the continued hike in costs of living. It is desperately sad to think that these are the items that the Belfast Charitable Society was funding over 250 years ago as well”.

From L to R: Ashleigh Galway, Currie Primary; David Watters, Chair of BCS and Bernadette Lyttle, Blessed Trinity College. 

Today, the Belfast Charitable Society has announced that it will double its funding to support the provision of school meals again this year, and will be focussing all its efforts in north Belfast. David explained:

This year the Society will be supporting food programmes in 25 primary schools and seven post primary schools in north Belfast, and will make more funding available. This will allow schools to provide food for children who are experiencing hunger, as part of a breakfast or lunch club. We are aware that the need is great in this part of Belfast, so we will also be doing all we can to continue to tackle disadvantage through other initiatives and by raising awareness of the issues in the hope that other funders are able to respond quickly to the need too.”

Ashleigh Galway Principal of Currie Primary School commented “In our school population, more than 75% are entitled to free school meals. With the recent cuts we are struggling to ‘plug the gaps’ for our families in the way we used to. In addition, we have observed that the number of children arriving to school not ready to learn has increased significantly since the covid pandemic. This situation is made worse as we are also struggling to provide many additional supports and resources needed. This funding from Belfast Charitable Society will allow us to offer a snack to the children free of charge for the month of January or free school meals for all during this month, which I know is a particularly hard time for families managing on low incomes”.

Speaking on behalf of the schools, Bernadette Lyttle, Principal of Blessed Trinity College, commented “The school community in north Belfast is so grateful for this support again. As we edge closer to the colder weather, our teaching staff are already fearful for the welfare of the pupils in their classes, who are arriving hungry to school, unable to concentrate, distracted and above all else clearly worried about how their parents / guardians are going to pay for food, clothes and shoes over the coming weeks and months ahead. This funding will support hundreds of children, and so in turn hundreds of families, and will undoubtedly make a huge difference. On behalf of all of them, we want to thank Belfast Charitable Society for their continued efforts in tackling this growing need.

 The Belfast Charitable Society aim to have funding out to each of the schools by the end of October 2023.

Two Marys in Conversation highlighting two remarkable women

Two Marys in Conversation highlighting two remarkable women

Belfast Charitable Society Clifton House News

On Tuesday 20 June the Foundation, set up in Mary Ann McCracken’s name, hosted a special evening to celebrate her birthday. ‘Two Marys’ in Conversation discussed the life and legacy of Mary Ann McCracken, and reflected on how much of her work was inspired by her close reading of the remarkable philosopher, writer and human rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797) lived most of her short life in England and was passionate about equality in education, and in society as a whole: “I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves”. Her published works, calling for men and women to be educated equally, were widely read and circulated, particularly in Belfast. Her travelogue was also well known, drawn from of her experience in  Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866) was a hero of Belfast- an abolitionist, philanthropist and reformer who was undoubtedly influenced by reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s published books. In her own letters, she described Wollstonecraft’s travelogue Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark as ‘more of a description of her own feelings, which are uncommonly exquisite’.

Sir Ronnie Weatherup, President of the Belfast Charitable Society, who hosted the event, commented, “We were delighted to dedicate an evening to celebrate these two amazing women, discussing Mary Ann and Mary Wollstonecraft’s lives and their works, and on how their influence is still felt today. It was a privilege to be joined on the night by Bee Rowlatt, a founding Trustee of the Wollstonecraft Society”.

Bee Rowlatt is a writer and journalist. Her book In Search of Mary won the Society of Authors’ K Blundell Trust award. Speaking about her contribution to the event, Bee said “I’m very excited to be sharing the incredible stories of these exceptional women, both of whose work is powerfully resonant today. It’s high time more people met Mary Ann McCracken and Mary Wollstonecraft!”

Become a Voluntary Board Member

Become a Voluntary Board Member

Belfast Charitable Society Clifton House News

Belfast Charitable Society, founded in 1752 is Northern Ireland’s oldest charity.

Between 1752 and the 1880s, this involved building and managing Belfast’s first poorhouse and hospital, delivering many of the municipal services for the town and providing funds to support its poor.

From 1880s to 2018, our focus moved to caring for older people given they were the most vulnerable and, in recent years, we have gone back to wider philanthropic roots: supporting activity that tackles grassroots poverty and delivers innovative solutions to help those who tackle such disadvantage.

Based in the old Poor House, now Clifton House Heritage Centre, Belfast Charitable Society is seeking to recruit voluntary Board Members for the organisation.

The role involves attending regular Board meetings and working with staff through specialised committees to support, develop and grow the strategic management of the Charity. The Charity would particularly welcome applications from persons with skills in at least one of the following areas:

– practical finance
– strategic community, voluntary charity sector knowledge
– strategic PR / communications and marketing

Given our ongoing desire to be truly inclusive, applications are particularly welcome from the female and Catholic population here.

There is no remuneration for these positions and successful applicants must become members of the Society.

Please forward short CV (max 3 pages) by 12noon on 7th July 2023 to

Belfast Charitable Society
Clifton House
2 North Queen Street
Belfast BT15 1ES
Tel 028 9099 7022

North Belfast Creative Digital Hub Launches

North Belfast Creative Digital Hub Launches

Belfast Charitable Society News

North Belfast grammar school St Malachy’s College has officially launched its new Creative Digital Technology Hub (CDTH) with funding  from the Belfast Charitable Society and The James Kane Foundation.

Around 50 guests attended the launch in February including principals and students from neighbouring schools, representatives from our funders, Belfast City Council, local authorities.  The Creative Digital Technology Hub was then officially opened by Sir Ronnie Weatherup, President of Belfast Charitable Society.  He said:

“Belfast Charitable Society has been supportive of the Digital Creative Hub from its inception. It’s fantastic to see it open and being so well used by local schools. We saw today how engaged the young people were in learning these new digital skills, including coding and game designing, which will no doubt gear them up for the jobs of the future. We will watch with excitement as the Hub grows from strength to strength.” 

The Hub is kitted out with high specification hard and software already allowing pupils and staff from schools across the North Belfast Learning Community to develop their digital skills through the use of VR machines, building and programming Lego robots and collaborating through projects in a state-of-the-art gaming arena.

While St Malachy’s College is using this academic year and the next as a demonstration project, they believe that the impact will help them attract further and major investment to build a bigger hub that can be accessed by all North Belfast learners.

Dr Mark Browne, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Education was in attendance at the invitation of Mr McBride and Chair of the Board of Governors, Sir Gerry Loughran.  He said:

“I was delighted to attend the opening at St Malachy’s College of their new Creative Digital Technology Hub where students are working together in a great example of shared education and collaborative learning. The young people will have the opportunity to be creative and learn important and transferable digital skills. This will open doors to new and exciting career paths and increase their awareness of the importance of the skills needed for 21st century employment.

Mary Ann McCracken Post Primary Bursaries in North Belfast launched for a second year

Mary Ann McCracken Post Primary Bursaries in North Belfast launched for a second year

Belfast Charitable Society Clifton House News

For a second year, the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation and Belfast Charitable Society will support a bursary programme for twelve post primary schools in North Belfast. Along with funding partners The James Kane Foundation and Hunter Smyth Fund, each school within the North Belfast Area Learning Community will receive up to £2,000 to support pupils (16+ year-olds) who face financial barriers which may prevent them from continuing to AS / A-Level, further or higher education, employment or apprenticeship.

The schools receiving the bursaries will have the flexibility to use the funds in a number of ways to support those pupils who need it most. Norma Sinte, Chair of the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation explained “We are so delighted to be able to re-launch these bursaries within post primaries in North Belfast. Last year, 86 pupils benefited from the funding available, helping them move on to achieve their own potential in education or the working world. We know many more will benefit this year too. These new bursaries, which will support young people to stay in school or progress into the right jobs, are exactly the kind of initiative Mary Ann McCracken would have supported if she were alive today”

Launched at Hazelwood integrated College, Principal Aine Lesley commented “Last year the Mary Ann McCracken Bursaries were a huge help to our school and our pupils. Having a flexible source of funding that can be put towards a pupil’s real need, as and when it arises, has helped immensely. Whether that is to cover application fees for university or to buy a new suit or travel fare for a job interview, we have been able to tailor the money available to individual student’s needs. We are delighted to be in receipt of this funding for a second year, and would like to thank all the funders for their ongoing support”

The bursaries are available to those pupils over 16 in the current academic year.

Norma Sinte continued, “Nearly six months in, the schools are already telling us of the impact they are seeing with those pupils who have been in receipt of the funds, and we hope to hear about many more over the coming months.”

Belfast Charitable Society supporting new communities this winter

Belfast Charitable Society supporting new communities this winter

Belfast Charitable Society News

Belfast Charitable Society continuing to support new communities

There is no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting a huge number of individuals and families this winter. However for marginalised groups, including asylum seekers and refugees, this crisis is often overlooked. The challenges they face are just as tough, as many have arrived in the UK with just the clothes on their backs, ill equipped for the cold winter months ahead.

Many of these individuals will be provided with temporary accommodation and food, however little to no allowances are made to provide material items like winter coats or shoes.

David Watters, Chair of Belfast Charitable Society, stated that “we have become more and more aware over the last few weeks of the issues facing asylum seekers and refugees in Belfast through the connections we have and the ongoing work we are doing with our new communities and their support organisations. The need is great, and the Society could do something to help.

The Belfast Charitable Society’s ‘Chair and Chief Executive’s Fund’ is a small funding allocation of £1,000 which is targeted at the discretion of David Watters, as Chair, and Paula Reynolds, as Chief Executive. This year, working with Anaka Women’s Collective, the funding will go to support five families with the purchase of new winter clothing.

Paula Reynolds explained “Earlier this month, with some additional financial and logistical support from Dunnes Stores in Cornmarket, some families, which included 21 children, went to shop for their new winter clothes themselves, allowing them the dignity that most of us take for granted. We acknowledge that this is a drop in the ocean in terms of the need out there, but hopefully we have taken some pressure off a few families.”

Speaking on behalf of the families, a representative from Anaka said “We are delighted that Anaka Women’s Collective was awarded Belfast Charitable Society’s Chair’s and Chief Executive Fund this winter. We are very grateful for this support as it allowed a number of our members to benefit from some new warm winter clothes for their children. As the temperatures drop and cost of everything goes up, this support is more important than ever. Thank you Belfast Charitable Society for your continued support of our work!”

140 years of bringing Christmas cheer to Clifton House

Belfast Charitable Society News

Benn Dinner 2022

George Benn, who was born on New Year’s Day 1801, was a renowned local philanthropist, historian and benefactor of Belfast Charitable Society. In his lifetime he opened three hospitals in the town, the Benn Skin Hospital, the Benn Ears Nose and Throat hospital and the

David Watters (second left), Chair of Belfast Charitable Society with representatives from the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Christina Black (second left) at the Benn Dinner.

Samaritans Hospital. Not long before he died George also oversaw the change of use from the Poor House to an Old People’s Home when the last child left in 1882. His legacy continues at Clifton House, as ninety percent of the building is still used for the care of the elderly, and the Christmas dinner held in his name will take place today (Tuesday 13th December) for the 140th time!

The Benn Dinner was first held in the winter of 1882 after George bequeathed £1,000 in his Will to enable everyone who resided in Clifton House to gather together and have a Christmas lunch. Since then the Belfast Charitable Society have continued to support this tradition in his name. And every year the event is supported by the current serving Lord Mayor of Belfast.

David Watters (back row), Chair of Belfast Charitable Society and the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Christina Black with local choir from Blessed Trinity College who sang for the residents of Clifton House as part of the 140 year Christmas tradition, the Benn dinner.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Christina Black said: “It’s such an honour to be at Clifton House today as part of this long running Christmas tradition for the residents; especially after the last couple of years when Covid restrictions prevented people from being able to come together and celebrate the festive season. It’s been so heart-warming to witness the ladies and gentlemen from the home enjoying a lovely Christmas lunch together, and to socialise with each other and staff. It is commendable that the Belfast Charitable Society, despite all the recent  difficulties and ongoing cost of living crisis, has kept this important tradition going for 140 years, and I have no doubt many more years to come.”

The event was supported again this year by the Belfast Junior Chamber of Trade, who were able to arrange a special visit from Santa, helping to add to the festive atmosphere and raise spirits throughout the house.

David Watters, Chair of Belfast Charitable Society concluded “The Belfast Charitable Society has entered its 270th year, and I strongly believe that it has stood the test of time because of the ongoing influence of our early Board members like George Benn, whose generosity and philanthropy fed into the everyday relief for the poor who lived in Clifton House. We are so glad that we can continue to carry out George’s wishes, and provide funds to support this Christmas tradition for the residents here. We witness every year how it helps to boost morale, not just of the residents but also staff, and long may it continue”

New Northern Ireland wide school funding will be a ‘lifeline’ for families

New Northern Ireland wide school funding will be a ‘lifeline’ for families

Belfast Charitable Society News

The number of people living in poverty across Northern Ireland is rising dramatically as the costs of basic essentials like food and fuel skyrocket. Many are struggling to feed and clothe their families and are at a financial breaking point.

David Watters, Chair of the Belfast Charitable Society commented “There is no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis will mean more and more children will be growing up in poverty in Northern Ireland. The evidence of this is already being seen in schools, as increasingly children are arriving hungry and with inadequate shoes or winter coats for the cold, wet months ahead.”

David’s comments echo those recently reported by The Ulster Teachers Union, who are seeing teachers’ concerns for their pupils shifting from issues within the classroom to their health and welfare outside the school gates, potentially going back to a cold, dark house.

He continued “Belfast Charitable Society has been addressing poverty for over 270 years and knows all too well the detrimental and long-term impacts poverty has on children. Young people need help, and they need it now, therefore we are increasing our efforts to do what we can and would encourage others to do the same. This is about taking responsibility and direct action at a time of real need”

Today, Belfast Charitable Society released over £100,000 to post primary schools in the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland to help with the additional costs faced in feeding their pupils.

Furthermore the Society, with partners The James Kane Foundation and Hunter Smyth Fund, will contribute to the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation Bursary Programme in North Belfast. The bursaries will be targeted at 16+ year olds who face financial barriers which may prevent them from continuing to AS / A-Level, further or higher education, employment or apprenticeship.

Speaking on behalf of the schools Mary Montgomery, Principal of Belfast Boys’ Model, commented “Research, statistics and experience tells us that children who are more disadvantaged are far more likely to underachieve in school. The effects of the cost-of-living crisis are already having an impact on our young people as families slip into poverty. It is a very worrying time. These funding announcements today will be a real life-line for families and for schools who are at the coal face of this crisis, seeing first hand children arriving hungry and cold from home. The bursary programme in North Belfast will also be a huge help in breaking down financial barriers to support students. Whether that is to cover application fees for university, buy a new suit or travel fare for a job interview or to encourage young people to progress to AS or A-Levels, the fund will offer fantastic flexibility to tailor to individual needs.”

David Watters concluded, “It is a sad indictment that the need today is just as great as it was 270 years ago when the Belfast Charitable Society was established. We will now, as we did then, continue to respond quickly to the needs of those living in poverty and do all we can to address disadvantage in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. These new grants are part of this ongoing work, helping to support hundreds of the most vulnerable children in our society today.”