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NI groups enjoy BIG grants windfall from Awards for All

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Northern Ireland
Awards for All Northern Ireland
Release date:
18 12 2012

Young people with a genetic bone condition will be able to attend Northern Ireland’s first specialised conference thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

The Brittle Bone Society is one of 77 groups across Northern Ireland awarded grants totalling more than £647,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme (see link below for full list of NI awards).

The organisation is using a grant of £10,000 to run its ‘Voice’ conference in Belfast next April for people aged 16-30 with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). Fundraising officer Christine Hope said this would be the fourth youth conference, but the first to be held in Northern Ireland.

“OI is a genetic condition which people have from birth. It affects one person in 15,000 in Northern Ireland. People with milder forms of OI will look smaller than an average person, and will have lots of fractures as well as loose joints and chronic pain. Those with more severe OI will have to use a special wheelchair,” she said.

“Many people with OI will have spent long periods in hospital. They may be the only person in their town or village with this condition, and may never even have met anyone else who looks like them. All this results in them feeling very isolated.

“It is brilliant that we have got the funding to hold a conference in Northern Ireland so we can bring these young people living with OI together to get to know one another and reduce their isolation,” said Christine.

“The conference will be attended by medical professionals and we hope that this will mean the support we can offer people with OI in Northern Ireland will go from strength to strength.

John Starrett, 23, from Comber, was born with multiple fractures and was given only two days to live. Since then he has had more than 80 broken bones, but has defied all the odds.

John said: “Three years ago a neck operation meant I had a six month stay in hospital and since then I have had to learn to walk and write again. But I won’t let my condition hold me back and I’m now in my first year studying architecture at Belfast Art College.

“I am very fortunate that my family is so supportive of me, but there are people with brittle bones who do not have the same support. Many people are very isolated, yet they love to see each other to find out what life is like for others with OI. Although my condition is quite severe I have been very active and I hope I can help people who are not seeing light at the end of the tunnel and cheer them up.”

Positive Life, the only HIV-specific organisation in Northern Ireland, has been awarded a grant of £9,971. The grant will be used to provide training to volunteers so they can go out into local communities to raise awareness and understanding of HIV and help prevent its increase. “Positive Life, formerly known as the HIV Support Centre, began 25 years ago as the AIDS telephone helpline and is now a Belfast city centre facility offering a range of services to people living with HIV,” said Director Danny McQuillan.

“There is a vital need here in Northern Ireland to educate people about HIV, raise awareness and provide local people with information. Northern Ireland has one of the fastest growing rates of HIV diagnoses in the UK with an increase of over 300% since 2000. This project will ensure that our volunteers are trained, equipped and supported to deliver a wide range of information, awareness and support services to educate the public.”

Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, said: “The Big Lottery Fund’s NI Awards for All programme funds health, education, environment and community projects that help people bring about positive change in their lives, improve health and well-being, develop skills and create safer communities.

“The application process is simple and accessible and shall remain so, making it easy for applicants to successfully apply for small pots of funding that can have such a big impact on local communities and lives.”
Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at www.awardsforall.org.uk. For more details call us on 028 9055 1455, or e-mail us at enquiriesni@biglotteryfund.org.uk.

Full list of awards annouced today.

Further Information

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.