Posted on Wednesday 24 July 2013 by Ulster Business

Thank You Fund

Pauline Graham, Health & Activity Coordinator for Autism Initiatives NI, James Laverty, Fundraising Information Officer at NICVA, Faron Morrison, Sports Development Officer with Castlereagh Borough Council and NI Coordinator for Irish Olympic Handball Association, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and Marcel Martin, General Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has teamed up with Coca-Cola to encourage non-profit organisations, sports clubs and community groups throughout Northern Ireland to apply to the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund.

With over £100,000 (€125,000) available, the Fund seeks to support projects across the island of Ireland that take an innovative approach to encouraging communities to lead more balanced, healthy and active lifestyles.

Last year's main beneficiary of the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund was The Irish Olympic Handball Association which has used funding of £21,000 to promote handball throughout Northern Ireland and currently supports local handball clubs across the region. Thanks to the Fund it will also be able to facilitate Irish Olympic Handball events in Lisburn, the 2013 European city of Sport, taking place in October.

Other beneficiaries include Autism Initiatives Northern Ireland, who used their funding to develop a surf school for youths and adults with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), and Fortwilliam & Macrory Presbyterian Church which invested in a cycling programme for young people and adults in North Belfast. This initiative centred on promoting cycling as a healthy and fun means of transport via the National Standard for cycling training.

Voicing his support for the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund at the launch held at the Coca-Cola HBC Ireland bottling plant at Knockmore Hill in Lisburn, Mr Donaldson said: "I would urge organisations throughout Northern Ireland to play their part in encouraging our communities to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle. Coca-Cola has shown tremendous commitment to local communities by financially supporting initiatives such as the surf school for young people with Autism, cycling programmes in North Belfast and promoting handball throughout our schools and sports clubs. Support of this kind is vital in enabling more and more people in the community to experience greater well-being in their day to day lives."

The Coca-Cola Thank You fund is operated in partnership with Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), The Wheel and The Federation of Irish Sport.

As the official partner to the 'Coca-Cola Thank You Fund', James Laverty, Fundraising Information Officer at NICVA, said: "NICVA is delighted to be partnering with Coca-Cola again this year for the 'Coca-Cola Thank You Fund'. The Fund provides a very welcome funding stream for organisations that find themselves with an increased demand for services in a difficult financial climate. This money can also make a real difference in local communities across Ireland as can be seen from previous funded projects. I would encourage any organisation with an innovative idea to encourage active lifestyles to enter."

Marcel Martin, General Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland, said: "The Fund is Coca-Cola's flagship community based programme on the island of Ireland. It was established in 2011 to mark the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola, and has since become an important support mechanism for non-profit organisations ranging from the Irish Olympic Handball Association to NI-specific organisations such as Autism Initiatives NI in the past two years. We look forward to extending grants to eleven more organisations and clubs in 2013. I invite all non-profits with plans for ambitious projects in the areas of activity and nutrition throughout Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland to apply online at www.coca-cola.ie/thankyou before the 31st of July."

A total of £107,000 (€125,000) is available this year for distribution through the Fund. The overall winner will receive £21,000 (€25,000) and a further ten organisations will receive £8,000 (€10,000) each. The projects selected will represent best practice and will serve as a model for other communities wishing to implement similar programmes. Applicant organisations will be required to provide details on the reach and impact of their proposed project, as well as the innovative aspect which will capture the imagination and interest of the local community and encourage them to become involved.

To find out more about the Fund, or to submit an application, please visit www.coca-cola.ie/thankyou. Deadline for entries is 31st July 2013.

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