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Cumbria’s new £4m social investment fund

Registered charities and social enterprises in Cumbria are being invited to apply for a blend of loan and grant from a new £4m Social Investment Fund for the North West aimed at offering finance to early stage and growing social businesses.

The ‘Invest for Impact’ fund is managed by the First Ark Group and aims to increase the impact of the region’s social economy, recently named as one of the most thriving in the UK. The £4m scheme, which is funded by the Growth Fund, an initiative of Access – the Foundation for Social Investment in conjunction with the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital, offers a blend of grant and unsecured loan finance for charities and social enterprises, up to £150k.

First Ark will also provide pre-investment and post-investment support from a dedicated team, ensuring that each investment is shaped to meet the specific needs of each organisation and to help steer them through the application process and then provide ongoing support throughout the life of the investment.

The investment committee for the new fund is chaired by Jack Stopforth, formerly managing director of the Cumbria Inward Investment Agency and past Chairman of Cumbria Learning and Skills Council.

Commenting on his ambitions for the new fund, Mr Stopforth said “The contribution to the regional economy made by charities and social enterprises is often undervalued.  Our hope is that Invest for Impact will provide funding and business support to help organisations make the North West a more inclusive place to be, with increased opportunities for everyone.  We want Social Enterprises and Charities from across Cumbria to take an active part in the opportunities this fund brings.

“I’d like to invite anyone keen on shaping better futures for their community to visit our website www.firstarksocialinvestment.com to express their interest.  I’m looking forward to seeing the impact that this brilliant new opportunity will delivery.


Notes to editor:

For press inquiries, interviews or further visuals, please contact Jacob Bolton on 0151 707 0427/ 07783 950 958, or email him at Jacob@agentmarketing.co.uk

First Ark

First Ark is dedicated to creating success that changes people’s lives. Through the practice of successful and responsible business, First Ark provide support for positive initiatives across the North West.

First Ark work to regenerate and develop neighbourhoods, provide facilities management services to its customers and create life changing opportunities that inspire people and business to generate growth in the communities in which it works.


Access – The Foundation for Social Investment exists to bridge the gap between charities and social enterprises and social investors. Access does this through two main programmes: the Growth Fund which blends grant from Big Lottery Fund and loan from Big Society Capital and is focused on enabling the provision of the simple and affordable investment products that charities and social enterprises tell us they need; and the capacity building programme, which provides charities and social enterprises with the support they need to get ready to take on investment.



020 7084 6833

Big Lottery Fund

  • The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. We put people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
  • We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year we invest over £650 million and award around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.

Website:              www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

Twitter:                 @biglotteryfund #BigLottery

Facebook:           www.facebook.com/BigLotteryFund

For funding and general enquiries call:

BIG Advice Line: 0345 4 10 20 30

For press enquiries call:

Press Office:       020 7211 1888

Out of hours media contact: 07867 500572

Big Society Capital

Big Society Capital is a financial institution with a social mission, set up to build the social investment market in the UK, so that charities and social enterprises can access appropriate repayable finance to enable them to grow, become more sustainable and increase their impact on society. It is doing this by building a diverse social investment market: encouraging investors to lend or invest money to achieve a social as well as a financial return. Since it was set up as an independent organisation in 2012, Big Society Capital has invested over £270 million in specialist organisations who lend to charities and social enterprises.



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