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Lottery cash to help NI community venues save money during the recession

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Northern Ireland
Energy Efficient Venues
Helping communities respond climate change
Release date:
12 12 2012

A community organisation in rural Fermanagh will be able to install solar panels on its roof to help save money during the recession thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.  

Boho Cross Community Association is among 32 groups across Northern Ireland awarded grants totalling over £732,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Energy Efficient Venues programme. The programme, which is now closed for applications, offers Lottery cash to local groups to carry out improvements to their community venues so they make savings on their heating and lighting costs and cut down on their spending.

Located in the rural hamlet of Boho seven miles from Enniskillen, the community group has been awarded a grant of £49,931 to carry out a number of energy saving improvements to its centre – including installing a solar photo-voltaic system on the roof of the venue.

“The Association was set up in 1992 and we built our centre on the site of and including an old National school in 1999,” said treasurer Gretta Farmer. “We had to add a new building to the existing old school which is constructed of stone and because of this there have been problems with damp from the very beginning.

“Our kitchen and the playgroup are located withiin the old school, and these rooms have always been damp. We have to keep the heating on 24 hours per day during bad weather and have been using a dehumidifier in the playgroup at night.

“Many groups use the centre for meetings and activities including Bo-Peeps playgroup, Boho Women’s group, youth club, parent and toddler group, keep fit, bowls, music and dance, senior citizens, heritage and many more. We also host cross border peace and reconciliation work and the centre is used by all groups including volunteer groups for meetings, training and networking.

“We are currently using far too much electricity and oil to keep the centre warm and dry nor have we any money for general maintenance and repair.”

She continued: “The photo-voltic panels installed on the roof of the centre is an innovative approach that will help us save money which we can then put back into maintenance, activities and support we offer.

“These panels will feed into the national grid, so we can sell the energy we don’t use back to the electricity company. These improvements will reduce our heating and lighting costs which is brilliant because despite all the activities we offer we have to keep rent low. There is a high level of unemployment around here and if we want to be a hub for the community we have to keep our costs down.”

The grant will allow the Association to dry line the walls of the old school to deal with the damp, and to insulate the roof, fit energy efficient light bulbs and sensors in toilets and hallways to ensure lights are not left burning unnecessarily. “This work will be a great benefit for us and the money we save will go right back into providing support for this rural community,” said Gretta.

Restore Community Group, based in a once derelict house in Limavady’s Main Street, has been awarded a grant of £8,940 to install energy efficient electric heating throughout the building. It then hopes to open a cafe for young people and offer a number of other community activities.

Treasurer Maureen Hudson said the community group was set up two and a half years ago, and has taken over a derelict building. “We are trying to turn it into a community house with a cafe on the ground floor for young people to use,” Maureen said.

“There is quite a problem here with drugs and alcohol and young people hanging about on the streets and getting involved in anti-social behaviour, so we hope the cafe will be a safe place where young people can get together in the evenings

“We have been renovating the building and now have an office, training room, kitchen and bathroom, with planning permission for the cafe, but until now we have had no heating system. The old oil fired heating system had to be ripped out and we could not replace it with oil as the tank was in the cellar and that is not allowed. We have opted for energy efficient electric heaters.

“Heating will allow us to open the whole building up. We held an open day recently for churches and other community groups to let them see what we are doing, and we have already had some local groups using our building for meetings.”

Maureen said the group anticipated the cafe would be open for business early next year. “Getting heating into the building is a major step towards providing these activities for the local community,” she said. “We hope the cafe will bring in young people who are not involved in church or school youth clubs and then we can encourage them to take part in the activities we offer such as sports, choir and after school clubs.” 

Frank Hewitt, the Big Lottery Fund’s NI Chair said: “The Energy Efficient Venues programme supports community organisations to carry out energy efficiency improvements to their venues that help them make savings during this difficult period of recession, and have a positive effect on the environment.

“This has been a very popular programme and we have awarded grants to a range of organisations across Northern Ireland. Organisations should be aware that the programme is now closed for applications.”

The Energy Efficient Venues programme is closed for applications. To find about more about the programme visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

A full list of awards announced today.

Further Information
For more information contact:
Andrew Kennedy Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 02890 551 426    
Out of hours contact: 07788 640 791
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

Notes to Editors
• The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out half the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £25 billion has now been raised and more than 330,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.