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Northern Ireland Big Briefing

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Joanne McdowellSupporting projects that are working to improve the lives of young people facing difficult challenges is a key area of our work. In May we announced a £25 million investment through Realising Ambition, which is supporting a portfolio of well-evidenced projects that are being replicated at a number of locations across the UK. You can find out more information on this below.

You may also recall from the last edition that I included some details on our Supporting Families consultation, which was open between February and May. We sought views on our proposals for a new programme to improve the lives of families, with children under 12, in Northern Ireland, who are facing a range of challenges. We are now in the process of completing our analysis of responses to the consultation and I look forward to providing you with further details when we are ready to launch the new programme.

Joanne McDowell

Big Lottery Fund Director Northern Ireland

In this issue:


Funding programmes open to your constituents

You can use our Funding Finder to search for funding programmes that are available for your constituents, while our grants search will allow you to find projects that have been funded in your constituency.

See a list of funding programmes open to your constituents

Our funding in Northern Ireland

Since June 2004, Big Lottery Fund has made grants of more than £234 million to 5,775 projects in Northern Ireland.

Reaching Out: Empowering Young People

Ciara Maskey, one of the four young people who help us make funding decisions on our Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme, took part in the international conference, ‘Children of Conflict 2012: Solving the Global NEET crisis’ held in Belfast. The three-day event at the end of March looked at how the conflict in Northern Ireland has impacted on the lives of young people, leading to a lack of education, unemployment and involvement in crime.

Ciara, 19, spoke with other young people attending the event to find out first-hand what the issues are for them and their thoughts on how these can be addressed. During her speech to the main conference, she told the audience about what she had learned from these conversations.

She said: “For me, it showed how many young people in Northern Ireland want to achieve something with their lives and they want to get out and try new things and test themselves, and with the right support, motivation, skills and mentoring they are capable of doing this.”

Northern Ireland’s First Minister and deputy First Minister, Mr Peter Robinson MLA and Mr Martin McGuinness MP MLA, also attended the main conference and Ciara had the chance to talk with them about the challenges young people in Northern Ireland currently face.

The international conference brought together people from all walks of life, from academics and politicians to community organisations and teachers, to discuss what can be done to tackle the issues.

Ciara sits on the decision-making Committee for Reaching Out: Empowering Young People, our programme that provides funding for projects that support young people most at risk in Northern Ireland, including those who have been disengaged from education, involved in crime or in care.

Further information on the Conference is available at:www.childrenofconflict2012.org

Yes we CAN!

‘It’s not about can’t. It’s about what you can do’. This was the loud and clear message from Compass Advocacy Network’s Shadow Council at their ‘Making Life Better’ seminar, held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, in April.

Sponsored by Mr David McClarty MLA, the seminar was an opportunity for the Shadow Council to shine a light on their achievements to date, and plans for the future, through their work to change public perceptions of learning disability and influence public policy.

The Compass Shadow Council is being delivered by the Compass Advocacy Network (CAN), an organisation that delivers a number of services and projects in the council areas of Ballymoney, Moyle, Coleraine and Ballymena. All projects are aimed at giving adults and young people with learning disabilities access to opportunities and the chance to have their voices heard. Their Shadow Council project was funded with a five-year grant of just over £363,000 in June 2008, through Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities Northern Ireland programme.

At their event in Stormont’s Long Gallery, the Shadow Councillors took to the podium to tell the large audience that as well as working to benefit others with a learning disability, taking part in the Shadow Council has allowed them to gain better self-confidence, new experiences and friendships.

The Shadow Council meet every four – six week and consider matters such as access to health, education, leisure and other services. Originally, the project planned to have 25 councillors and 25 delegates, but due to demand there are now 31 councillors, and there is a waiting list. They work with a wide range of organisations across Northern Ireland and with their mission of getting the voices of people with learning disabilities heard, the Shadow Council have made responses to consultations by the University of Ulster, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, Bamford Taskforce and University of Ulster Nursing Degree programme.

This summer, the project will start to roll out roadshows that will take place in the Moyle, Coleraine and Ballymena areas, with a focus on developing strong, local partnerships with other organisations.

Online toolkit to help Community Planning

Environment Minister Alex Attwood MLA attended the launch of a new online Community Planning tool to help Northern Ireland communities and Government work together.

The online toolkit, developed by Community Places with funding from Big Lottery Fund, is a comprehensive resource for Community Planning, a process that encourages community groups and public bodies to work together in the planning and provision of services for local people.

It explores the key themes essential to effective Community Planning Practice such as Community Engagement and Working Together and highlights and directs users to useful tools, resources, case studies and podcasts.

Speaking at the launch on 23 May, Minister Attwood described the online toolkit as “a combination of research, information, advice and best practice gathered together in one place.”

Colm Bradley, Director of Community Places, said: “The pace of change is increasing and Community Planning is at the heart of this process. This online Toolkit, developed with funding from a learning contract awarded by the Big Lottery Fund, is an important resource that will help all communities understand and get involved in Community Planning so that better services and opportunities are developed for local people.”

Big Lottery Fund’s Northern Ireland Director Joanne McDowell said: “The new online toolkit developed by Community Places is an important resource to help local people and organisations understand, learn about and get involved in this process so they can help to plan and shape services in their communities.”

Community Places is a not-for-profit voluntary organisation which provides advice on planning issues to disadvantaged communities and individuals and support to community planning, consultation, research and building projects.  

See the online Toolkit

Adult Learners’ Week

BIG’s Northern Ireland Director Joanne McDowell attended a celebratory event held at Stormont to mark the beginning of Adult Learners’ Week, which ran between 12 – 18 May.

Organised by the Forum for Adult Learners in Northern Ireland (FALNI) and hosted by the Committee for Employment and Learning, the event highlighted the work of adult learning projects across Northern Ireland, including some supported by Big Lottery Fund.

Representatives from the voluntary and community sector, government and education, were amongst the attendees at the event. During this, local people who have improved their education, skills and confidence with the support of community organisations, gave moving accounts of their experiences.

“I have a young family and they now see me involved in education and they see the benefits of it and want to do well in school,” said one participant who has been supported by the Workers’ Educational Association and NIACRO, two groups who have received funding from Big Lottery Fund.

Big Lottery Fund and Catch22 Supporting Young People at Risk of Offending

We recently announced the 25 projects that will be supported through ‘Realising Ambition’ – the Big Lottery Fund’s (BIG’s) five year, £25 million UK-wide programme. Realising Ambition is aimed at replicating outstanding projects that have been shown to be effective in helping young people fulfil their potential and avoid pathways into offending.

The announcement was the culmination of a rigorous selection process, undertaken over the previous six months by a consortium led by Catch22, working with the Young Foundation, the Social Research Unit, Rathbone and Substance. The consortium was tasked with identifying 25 of the best projects or programmes that have been proven to help young people avoid pathways into offending, and that might be suitable for wider replication.

The programme prospectus includes a short description of each of the chosen interventions, how they will work and their anticipated impact. The selected projects will receive on-going support for their replication from the Catch22-led consortium. Alongside the replication work itself, the Social Research Unit will be carrying out a large scale experimental evaluation, further extending our evidence base of effective interventions and how these can be most effectively rolled out.

We are excited by the potential of this programme, not only to ensure that more children and young people achieve their potential and steer clear of crime but also to build a better evidence-base on which organisations working with children and young people can draw and to drive learning on how proven practice can best be replicated.

Read the programme prospectus 


Village SOS Active

Alongside the BBC One Village SOS series, Big Lottery Fund launched Village SOS Active, a UK-wide learning campaign that builds upon the successes of the first programme by harnessing the energy and attention on rural issues generated by the BBC series in order to inspire rural audiences with no history of community engagement to develop their own social enterprises by connecting them to the advice and support they need.

The BBC Village SOS series helped to highlight the economic decline seen in many rural areas typified by closing village shops and pubs. The main purpose of Village SOS is to help to turn around this decline by engaging people to come together to make a difference in their communities. The TV series also showcased how social enterprise could be the answer to many of the problems facing rural communities and can help to provide people a means to come together and rejuvenate their community by providing vital goods and services.

To help communities develop their projects we have developed a website – www.villagesos.org.uk  where rural constituents can join an online community of nearly 3,500 like minded social entrepreneurs and post questions or start a discussion on our online forums, they can also start a local community page to showcase their own project. There’s also range of guides to help you through the process of starting an enterprise on everything from funding and finance to working with volunteers and governance for your organisation. Up until 12 September 2012 we will also be providing grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 to rural community enterprise projects.

Helping you help your constituents

Our constituency web pages have been set up to provide information sheets on current BIG funding programmes that can be used to deal with constituency queries about funding. They also provide briefings on BIG’s funding impact and learning by portfolio area and provide opportunities for MPs and MLAs to arrange constituency visits to BIG funded projects.

Find out more on our constituency page.

Looking for funding?

Find out more about the current funding programmes in Northern Ireland

Get details of funding programmes from all National Lottery Distributors

What has been funded in my area?

Search for projects that have been funded by BIG in your area or for funding by all National Lottery distributors

Further information

Joanie Arthurs

Communications Officer


028 9055 1484

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