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National Lottery funding boost for Northern Ireland groups

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Northern Ireland
People and Communities
Release date:
17 10 2018

Older people with limited mobility and adults with learning disabilities are among those benefiting from almost £900,000 of National Lottery funding.

Down Special Olympics Club has been awarded a £37,350 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s People and Communities programme. The Downpatrick club is open to people aged 14 to over 65, who have a range of learning disabilities, and members are offered a package of Olympic sports and activities including, bocce, golf, football and table tennis.

Being part of the club reduces isolation and provides members with opportunities to improve fitness, develop confidence, share skills and make friends. The new funding is being used to expand the work they do to new members and volunteers.

Fintan O’Connor, 39, is one member who has benefitted from being part of the club. Fintan, who has autism, discovered he had a talent for golf when he was 15 and after joining the club seven years ago he’s enjoyed the social and sporting opportunities the club has offered him. He’s gained confidence, independence and thanks to the support he’s received in his golf, he won a gold medal at the All Ireland Special Olympic Games in Dublin in June. Celine O’Connor, Fintan’s mum, said being part of Down Special Olympics Club has made a huge difference to him.

Celine said: “The social and life opportunities the Special Olympics have brought are so important. Fintan has had experiences which otherwise he probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to tackle.

“For instance, going to the Triple Crown in Dublin was something right out of Fintan’s comfort zone. Then he travelled to the Ireland Special Olympics in June this year with the rest of the team on the train and stayed with them in accommodation at Dublin City University – we were able to give him his independence and stay in a separate hotel.”

Chairman of the group, Frank Donnelly said: “As one of our gold medallists Fintan represents everything which Down Special Olympics is about. The new funding from Big Lottery Fund will enable us to help more people develop their talents, building new skills and friendships.”

Sion Mills & District Carers Support Association also received £36,000 to support local carers from Sion Mills, Victoria Bridge and Castlederg to help reduce isolation and offer them respite support. The project offers training for carers in areas such as First Aid and sessions to reduce the stress and improve health, such as weight management, medication awareness, benefits advice and relaxation techniques.

Bann Maine West Community Cluster has been awarded £82,550 to develop a range of services and information for people in rural areas of Mid and East Antrim. They include lunch and learn sessions and an Annual Volunteer Celebration Event, which is an opportunity to acknowledge the support volunteers offer, share learning and plan future work. The project is improving people’s mental and physical wellbeing and skills.

Greenlight Gateway, which is based in Ballycastle received a £99,250 grant to support people with learning disabilities by providing opportunities and support in social and work environments. Members will be mentored and will help organise activities of their choice to improve their social life and help them become more independent. Activities will help them become part of the wider community and may include crazy golf, drumming, picnics and concerts. They will also learn life skills such as handling money, safety awareness, healthy eating, and support for social inclusion and disability awareness within their workplaces/placements.

Loughgiel Community Association also received £197,619 of National Lottery funding to offer people in Loughgiel and surrounding areas a range of activities to help improve health and wellbeing, fitness and skills and also to bring people together. The activities are being held in the Millennium Centre in the village, and people are helping decide what type of activities they would like to take part in.

Shopmobility Mid Ulster has been awarded £198,813 of funding to expand and improve their services in Cookstown and Dungannon. They are also increasing accessibility to these services for people with limited mobility in Coalisland, Moneymore, Stewartstown, Pomeroy, Fivemiletown and Clogher. People not able to go to their nearest Shopmobility location can have equipment delivered to their home, and the project is setting up ‘meet and greet’ points for people who are using their own or public transport but cannot walk to a Shopmobility centre.

Home-Start Down District received £199,947 of funding to provide early intervention support and training to parents experiencing difficulties which may affect family life such as stress, mental health issues or isolation. They will have the opportunity to learn new skills and get peer support. They will also have access, if needed, to a family support worker, parent volunteers, a family support group and a parent programme. Parents will help design a series of family learning events.

Julie Harrison, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, said: “I am delighted to announce these grants under the People and Communities programme and I want to say thanks to all the National Lottery players who have helped make this possible.

“We want to fund great projects that work with local people, build on a community’s strengths, and are well connected to other services and activities in the community. We are looking forward to seeing the positive impact these projects will make to people and communities across Northern Ireland.”

Click here to download a full list of awards

The People and Communities programme offers grants of between £30,000 and £500,000 for two to five year projects. More information can be found on our website www.biglotteryfund.org.uk or ring our enquiries line on 028 90 551 455.

For press enquiries call Lucy Gollogly or Rachel Skinner
Press Office: 02890 551 432 or 02890 551 450
Out of hours media contact: 07580 811135 or 0774 7532 846

Notes to Editors:

  • The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, our funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 we have awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people. Website │Twitter │Facebook │Instagram