Business news

Openreach is Connecting Communities and Transforming lives with grass-roots community support

Posted By:

18th Jan 2024

As Northern Ireland’s largest digital infrastructure provider and the people that make the network, Openreach is connecting people and communities across Northern Ireland.


Not only leading the way in building the country’s Ultrafast Full Fibre infrastructure, with over 86% of properties across Northern Ireland now able to upgrade on the Openreach network, Openreach has also been connecting local communities through a dedicated funding programme since 1989.


Formerly known as the Telecommunity Fund, the newly branded Openreach Community Fund is managed by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI) who have matched Openreach investment since the fund began, and have been supported since its inception by the Communication Workers Union (CWU).  With over 569 awards made, the fund has supported 293,122 beneficiaries within local communities. 


Around £50,000 per year is allocated to a diverse range of community organisations, funding grass-roots groups, and to projects that support disadvantaged sectors, to include young people, older people and people with disabilities, with an average award value of £1,356.

Investing to better connect communities is core to delivering Openreach’s ambition to enhance people’s lives. Its rollout of the Full Fibre broadband network means communities across the region are benefiting from connections that are up to twelve times faster than average broadband, with families and businesses able to enjoy better video calling, higher resolution movie streaming and gaming, and the ability to connect more devices at once without experiencing any slowdown, buffering or dropouts. 

Speaking about the Openreach Community Fund, Garrett Kavanagh, Director at Openreach in Northern Ireland said: “I’m hugely proud of Openreach’s transformative impact in building community connections right across Northern Ireland.  Our ongoing investment in communities is having grass-roots impact, not just through our financial support for local projects, but also through the Openreach team’s volunteering in-kind support. This fund demonstrates our long-standing commitment to supporting local communities in Northern Ireland in which our team of employees live and work.”


Orla Black, Grants Director at CFNI also said: “We at the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland are proud of the positive impact we have achieved since co-founding the fund in 1989. By equipping and empowering local people to create change, communities right across Northern Ireland have benefitted greatly.”

One of the many beneficiaries which has experienced first-hand the positive impact of the Openreach Community Fund is Sensory Kids NI. Kathryn Davidson, founder of Sensory Kids in Antrim added: “The support received from the Openreach Community Fund has made such a difference to our work to provide sensory support to children and young people, and to provide families with a secure environment that promote development and reduce anxieties.

“The application process was extremely straight forward and the practical support from the Openreach team has been hugely supportive to our work.  I would strongly encourage local communities to apply to the Fund for support”.


There’s a short window for applications until the 30th of January, with the next wave of applications kicking off again later in the year. To apply visit