In Uncategorized

 The Big Lottery Fund was out and about across Northern Ireland on the 28th January to reveal major changes in how it will fund as it announces a new multi-million pound programme.

The People and Communities programme will invest £60 million over the next five years to support voluntary, community and social enterprise groups to work with local people to make the changes they want in their communities.

 Anne Wright & May McAreeGrow & Big Lottery

The programme is about more than just an application form and groups are being asked to talk to the Big Lottery Fund team about their project idea before they apply. To start some of those conversations, the team were out visiting around 20 projects across Northern Ireland to see the work they’re already doing with local people.

Grants of between £30,000 and £500,000 will be available for two to five year projects that work with local people, build on a community’s strengths, and are well connected to other services and activities in the community. The programme is open for applications for five years.

One of the projects already putting people at the centre is GROW’s Reaching Out Community Gardening project in north Belfast. It is working with Newington Housing Association and Newington Day Centre to support older people to get involved in activities including community gardening to help improve health, wellbeing, and increase connections in the community.

The project, which received funding from Big Lottery Fund in 2012, runs at three sites – Camberwell Court Sheltered Scheme on the Limestone Road, Newington Day Centre off the Antrim Road and the Waterworks Park.

GROW Director Siobhan Craig: “Living in north Belfast, I and others wanted to get involved in our local community and there wasn’t an easy or obvious route to do that – that’s where Grow started. We developed our first community garden at an interface in the Waterworks Park.

“After requests from local people and their families, we started a project working with older people, which was supported by the Big Lottery Fund’s Connecting Older People programme.
“Our work is about connecting communities and people to come together to work, cook and eat in our community gardens, and has made real changes in north Belfast. Something special happens when people work and share food together.  We learn about ourselves and others and build lasting relationships across generations, across communities and across organisations.”

Anne Wright, a mum and grandmother from north Belfast, got involved in the project after health problems left her feeling low in confidence.

Anne, 63, said: “I had two strokes in September 2011 when I was 59 and was off work for six months. Although I recovered well physically, mentally it was tough – I lost my confidence. I had been used to being busy, working in a chippie and volunteering in a charity shop, so I found it hard being stuck in the house as I got better.”

After seeing a sign from GROW looking for people to get involved in the project, Anne and her sister signed up. She went along to join in activities with the residents in Camberwell Court, some of whom are in their 80s. They get together every Wednesday to work in the garden, and plan events and activities.

The experience boosted her confidence and after spotting Anne’s strong people skills, GROW director Siobhan Craig asked her to help out as volunteer.
“I love being involved in the project – it gets me out in the fresh air meeting people of all ages and all different backgrounds. You learn so much from the older people when we are busy gardening and planting – I love hearing their stories and having a bit of craic.

“I’m meeting people that I haven’t seen in years – like a nun who taught me in school who is also involved, as well as other people I never would have met otherwise. It’s cross community and there are lots of different nationalities involved. I have got so much out of it.”

Gary Dugan, Newington HA’s Chief Executive said ““Newington Housing Association’s main focus is delivering for our tenants and communities where we work. As a community based organisation we achieve the best outcomes when we partner with like-minded organisations who put people first. Our partnership with Grow is a great example of this and the improvement to the quality of lives of the Camberwell Court residents is clearly evident.”

The Big Lottery Fund’s NI Chair, Frank Hewitt, said: “It is fantastic to be out across Northern Ireland talking to people about the great work they are already doing in communities, and hearing their ideas of how they could build on that with support from the new People and Communities programme.

“We know that people living in communities are the ones who know what needs to change and how best to do this. That’s why we asking all the projects we fund to get people involved and put them in the lead in changing their lives and communities

“We want to talk to people about their project ideas, and our dedicated People and Communities phone line will be opening on Monday 1 February. In the meantime, you can find all the details about the programme on the Big Lottery Fund website. We are really excited to hear groups’ ideas and see the difference these ideas will make to people and communities across Northern Ireland.”

Anne Wright & May McAree 2 Camberwell tenants

More information about the People and Communities programme, including details of a dedicated phone line for groups to discuss their project idea, can be found on our website,

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search