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What is a Development Trust?

Development trusts are community owned and led organisations.

Development Trusts NI is a model for doing business in a community led setting.

They use self-help, trading for social purpose, and ownership of buildings and land, to bring about long-term social, economic and environmental benefits in their community.

They operate in both urban and rural areas, often in neighbourhoods which have experienced the worst economic decline. They are independent, but work with the public sector, private businesses, and with other community groups.

They are community ‘anchor’ organisations, delivering services and facilities, finding solutions to local problems, and helping other organisations and initiatives succeed.

What do they do?

Local people set up development trusts to tackle local issues and to improve the quality of life in their community. As a result, development trusts become involved in a very wide range of activities.

Despite the diversity that is reflected in what they do, all development trusts are underpinned by a strong ethos of self help and self reliance and a belief that community regeneration which is achieved through community owned enterprise and assets is the way to build strong and sustainable communities.

These are just some of the activities which development trusts are currently involved in: running the local shop and post office, developing play park and recreational facilities, managing a housing development, developing renewable energy projects such as wind farms, managed workspaces, setting up training programmes, running childcare or youth services, preserving the local heritage, restoring and conserving historic buildings, countryside ranger service, running the village petrol pump, a multi purpose arts and crafts centre, property development, tourism, environmental improvements, childcare, furniture recycling, running a sports centre, commercial forestry and woodland management.

In short, anything and everything that might help build a vibrant and sustainable community.


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