Northern Ireland committee

Mental Health Foundation

Paul Sweeney

Committee Chair

Paul Sweeney

Paul has a wealth of experience working in the voluntary, community and public sectors in Northern Ireland.

From 1987 to 1994 he was the Director of the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust, which supported community-based self-help initiatives.

He joined the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) in 1994, initially on secondment, as an adviser on community development and reconciliation. Throughout his subsequent career in the NICS he held a number of senior positions including Deputy Secretary in the Office of the First and deputy First Minister, Permanent Secretary in the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure and Permanent Secretary in the Department of Education.

Since retiring from the NICS in 2017 Paul has undertaken a trustee role in a number of not-for-profit organisations involved in regeneration, culture and young people.

He said: “I consider it a privilege to be appointed into this role and to be afforded the opportunity to build on the success of the Fund's grant making in the years ahead.

“The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector across Northern Ireland has responded to the challenges of COVID-19 with leadership, resilience and compassion. I believe that The National Community Fund is well placed to continue supporting local people as we re-build after the immediate pressures of the pandemic."

Sandra McNamee

Sandra McNamee

Sandra has a wealth of experience, spanning over twenty years, of working in the community and voluntary sector, in particular the children's and women’s sectors. Her previous roles include Management Coordinator at North Down and Ards Women’s Aid and Business Manager at NSPCC. Additionally Sandra has held the position of Non-Executive Director for two well-established charities in Northern Ireland.

In her current role as an Independent Management Consultant, Sandra works with clients across the voluntary, community and public sectors, to provide a range of consultancy solutions, which help organisations reach their potential and create positive change in their communities. Sandra has a particular interest in service evaluation and performance measurement, especially in relation to supporting organisations to capture social impact.

Sandra also has a keen interest in promoting children and young people’s rights, in particular rights relating to participation and engagement. She has a passion for working with children and young people, to raise awareness of keeping safe, and to empower them to access support when needed.

"I am absolutely delighted to be appointed to The National Lottery Community Fund NI Committee. Over the years I have seen the huge impact The National Lottery Community Fund can make in tackling disadvantage and bringing real improvements to those who are most in need. I look forward to taking up this role and to playing my part in the delivery of our new and exciting strategic framework and vision, which clearly puts people in the lead."

Charlie Mack

Charlie Mack

Charlie has worked as a director in a number of large UK voluntary sector organisations and is currently Chief Executive of the Cranstoun Group. Previously he worked as CEO of Extern and UK Group Director for the Royal National Institute of Blind people.

"I am privileged to be appointed to The National Lottery Community Fund to play my part in building a better Northern Ireland. The National Lottery Community Fund has an important role to play in empowering people most in need across Northern Ireland. I am looking forward to helping to make decisions that will support people to improve their lives and build better communities."

Charlie has worked at a senior level in local government and the private sector in England before taking up a career in the voluntary sector. He is a Non-Executive Member of the Local Government Staff Commission and was previously a Committee Chair at the NI Social Care Council. Charlie is also a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Kate Clifford

Kate Clifford

Kate has 25 years of experience working and volunteering in the community sector in rural Northern Ireland. Since 2013, she has held the post of Director of Rural Community Network having previously worked to build peace and understanding as a Rural Enabler working with Institutions such as the GAA, Churches and the Orange Order.

She is passionate about addressing inequalities in society and working to challenge policies and practices which continue poverty and disadvantage. She has experience of working with government departments and international agencies on issues of rural development, peacebuilding, gender equality, poverty and health inequalities. She is a firm believer in locally led community development movements and has spent much of her working life supporting small groups of people to make positive and lasting changes in their communities.

“I am delighted to be appointed to the National Lottery Community Fund’s NI Committee. I have witnessed first-hand the impact the National Lottery investments have made locally, from huge multiannual funding streams to the essential investments of Awards for All, small scale funds which are the lifeblood of many smaller groups who do important work in our communities. It is an honour to be appointed to this Committee and I look forward to helping to shape the strategic focus of this important fund in this region in the coming years.”

For ten years Kate worked as the Education and Training Manager in the Rural College teaching on the MSc Rural Sustainable Development Programme. She is graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, holding a BSc in Agricultural Economics and Management and an MSc in Rural Development.

Cara Cash Marley

Cara Cash Marley

Cara takes up the appointment as member of the NI Committee on Monday 1st November 2021.

Cara has worked and volunteered in the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland for the past 17 years and is currently CEO of Groundwork Northern Ireland, a community development and regeneration Charity offering services across NI.

She has experience in service delivery, business development, governance and strategic development across the women’s, community education, learning disability, social enterprise, sexual violence and community development sectors.

A firm believer in empowering people and communities through user centred, collaboratively designed services, Cara has worked with government departments and ministers as well as partners across the community and voluntary sector on ground-breaking initiatives.

A graduate of the University of Dundee in Leadership and Management Cara is also a trustee for a small local charity as well as a guest speaker for both the University of Ulster and Belfast Met Business Schools.

Cara said: "I am absolutely elated to be appointed to the National Lottery Community Fund’s NI Committee. I have witnessed first-hand the impact the National Lottery Community Fund support has made, from the big multi-annual funding streams to the small but essential investments through Awards for All.

“The openness of the Fund, the way in which it actively listens to community needs and responds is amazing, and I feel so privileged to now be part of that. I look forward to helping drive the strategic focus of the National Lottery Community Fund and ensuring the voice of charities, communities and individuals is heard at that level.”

Nick Garbutt

Nick Garbutt

Nick takes up the appointment as member of the NI Committee on Monday 1st November 2021.

Nick Garbutt is a journalist and public relations consultant. He is a former editor of the Irish News and deputy editor of the Belfast Telegraph. He currently edits ScopeNI, Northern Ireland’s public policy magazine.

Nick is a member of the Transformation Advisory Board, which advises the Health Minister on health and social care reform. He also has more than 20 years experience as non-executive director of a range of charities across sectors ranging from the environment, the arts, young people and social housing. He has a strong interest in good governance.

Nick said: “It’s an honour to be appointed to the committee. It is also a great responsibility. During my time in post I want to help make a tangible difference to individuals and communities across Northern Ireland. These are difficult times for so many, and I expect that to translate into enormous demands on funds such as ours. That makes it all the more important to ensure that every penny is well invested and helps to bring about positive change.”

Nick believes that citizens should have much more power over their own lives and is a passionate supporter of expanding the democratic process through Citizens Assemblies, Participatory Budgeting and involving people more closely in designing the public services we all rely on.

He added: “That’s the main reason why I wanted to get involved with the National Lottery Community Fund. It puts people in the lead, and that’s exactly how it should be. Those who need support are best qualified to tell us how we can help.”

Northern Ireland committee meeting minutes

Management expenses