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Investors In People Award achieved!

We are absolutely delighted to announce that the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland was awarded the Investors in People Award during a recent assessment.

Knowing that our nurturing and supportive approach to charities also extends to our vital staff team is incredibly rewarding.

We are proud of our team and celebrate them as part of this award!


Improved turnaround times for Applicants!


What's new for 2022?

We have great news for applicants, after listening to feedback from the sector duirng the covid 19 pandemic, we have significantly reduced our decision making time on new applications!

Our committed Trustees have agreed to review applications every 6 weeks instead of 12, reducing the waiting time to half the current rate.

We recognise the importance of getting funding to where it is needed most as quickly as possible so we are delighted to trial this new turnaround time and hope that it will make a difference to those groups who apply.

For more information on our community grant programme, follow this link:

Halifax Foundation for NI appoints first ever patron

The Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland has appointed Jim McCooe as its first patron to continue to foster close links between the business community and the third sector. 

The Portadown man, who holds the most senior leadership role in Lloyds Banking Group in Northern Ireland, has been a key supporter of the Foundation for 11 years and is a strong advocate for the grant funding body’s work with grass roots organisations helping the most vulnerable in society. 

“I am so proud of the work of the Foundation and the good causes that it funds. In this newly created role of Patron of the Foundation, I will offer support at every opportunity. I speak regularly to politicians and business leaders about the need to help disadvantaged communities and my new role will help cement relations between decision makers and the third sector,” he said. 

The Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland is entirely funded by an annual donation from Lloyds Banking Group. Over the past 35 years, it has given £39 million to charities in Northern Ireland. 

Brenda McMullan, the Foundation’s Executive Director, explained that Mr McCooe’s unique roles as Lloyds Bank Ambassador and long-standing trustee of the Foundation has strengthened the relationship between the bank and the Foundation. 

“Jim shares our passion to support our grantees not just financially, but strategically. Jim was instrumental in helping the Foundation to tap into the skills and expertise that exist in Lloyds Banking Group and connecting colleagues with the community and voluntary sector. I am thrilled that Jim has agreed to become the first ever Patron of the Foundation, and that he will stand with us as we support the sector in the challenges ahead.” 

Mr McCooe has been employed by the bank for almost 35 years, taking a job as a cashier with Halifax Building Society six weeks after leaving school. He was offered a management trainee post and later ran the largest branch in Northern Ireland before being promoted in 2004 to oversee the branch network. 

Despite his busy work schedule, he was sponsored by Halifax to do a degree in Business and Management at Durham Business School in 2006.   

“I never left the house on a Saturday for three years; I spent all day studying. I was like a sponge soaking it all up. It was an amazing opportunity and I was very lucky to have such great support from my family and my work colleagues,” he said. 

Lloyds Bank took Halifax over in 2008 and the following year Mr McCooe was made Bank Ambassador for Northern Ireland, one of ten roles created across the UK. He is currently Head of Customer Contact for Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) in Belfast and a member of its national Senior Leadership Group. 

In 2010 he joined the Foundation as a trustee and immediately loved the role. “I couldn’t believe how much good work the Foundation was doing. I was so honoured and humbled to be able to offer my support,” he said. 

Trustees can only serve for three terms, so he is delighted that he can continue to be involved with the organisation in this new role.  

He believes firmly in the importance of business supporting the third sector and feels that Lloyds Bank has fostered this ethos among its 2000 strong team in Northern Ireland.  

He added: “Our bank colleagues have a massive sense of pride in the work that the Foundation does and how we are able to contribute as an organisation. As patron I will be looking at new and innovative ways to strengthen this partnership.” 

New Chair At Halifax Foundation Looks Forward To Post-Covid Challenge


The new chair of Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland Paula Leathem is looking forward to using her skills and experience to help the third sector in a post-Covid world. The Senior HR Business Partner for NIE Networks predicts the challenges for the Voluntary and Community Sector post Covid will be huge but will also present an opportunity to do things differently.

“Coming out of Covid will be challenging for the sector but it has made us look at new ways of thinking and doing things. We need to be positive as we look at how we best support the communities most in need,” she said.  Paula, who has been on the board of Halifax Foundation since 2013, explained that the organisation adapted quickly to the pandemic and made it easier for grassroots groups to access vital funding.

“Our amazing team could see early on what was happening and how the Foundation could provide an emergency response. As the pandemic hit, they quickly repurposed the Community Grants programme and awarded the first batch of grants on the day in which the first lockdown was announced,” she said.

Through this emergency Covid-19 fund they provided grants for 234 projects with a total of £893,225 benefitting 193,394 people. Funding supported food parcels to the most vulnerable, resource packs, digital support both for charities to set up online and for children to access remote learning as well as much needed core funding.


As the Foundation looks to the future, she says she sees her role as encouraging the team to delve deeper into the learnings from the past year and consider whether there’s a better way of doing things. “It’s important for all organisations to step back now and look closely at their processes to see if they need to be adapted. Some things will have changed and some won’t but we need to query that,” she said.

The Foundation’s team of six, led by Executive Director Brenda McMullan, has more than 80 years’ grant-making experience between them but it’s their energy, passion and enthusiasm that has made the organisation what it is today. “They are all doing a job they love and that shows. They take the time to connect with charity representatives of each grant application, ensuring they fully understand the unique issues and needs of each community and the impact our funding can make on local people,” she said.


The Foundation’s funding comes from an annual donation from Lloyds Banking Group to fund all its Grant Programmes, including its Matched Giving Scheme, which supports the fundraising and volunteering efforts of staff from Halifax and Lloyds Bank in Northern Ireland. Part of the chair’s role will be as an ambassador for the Foundation continuing to develop the excellent working relationship with the banking group. “Working with people and developing relationships are two of the things that I most enjoy,” she said.

Paula brings a wealth of experience to this role. For the past 34 years she has worked for Northern Ireland Electricity Networks and now holds the post of Senior HR Business Partner, having worked previously in Customer Services. She is responsible for leading the company’s diversity agenda and also specializes in change management, employee engagement and personal development. A mum of four grown-up children, she also recently joined the board of Women in Business and says she believes in the importance of supporting voluntary and community groups.

“At NIE Networks we encourage our team members to give time to voluntary boards. It’s a great experience to be sharing the skills you’ve developed over your career to help others,” she said.


Executive Director Brenda McMullan said that she believes Paula’s skills and experience will help Halifax Foundation to meet the challenges of the future.“We are so fortunate to be supported by such a strong board of trustees. As chair, Paula brings a depth of knowledge of the sector but also years of experience working closely with people, and that’s what the Foundation is all about,” Brenda McMullan said.

Paula takes over the chair from Imelda McMillan who served as chair for eight years. Brenda McMullan said: “We’d like to thank Imelda for her hard work, dedication and time supporting the Foundation. She played a vital role in helping our team through the early days of the pandemic when we needed to make essential decisions quickly.”


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Clifton House Heritage Centre
2 North Queen Street
Belfast BT15 1ES

T: 028 9032 3000

Registered in Northern Ireland Number 19019

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Charity Number: NIC101763

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