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£1.3 million funding boost for Northern Ireland groups

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Northern Ireland
People and Communities
Release date:
24 1 2018

Groups across Northern Ireland are bringing people together, improving wellbeing and reducing isolation thanks to £1.3 million of National Lottery funding.

The funding will support people like Willie McGaghey, 66, from Derry/Londonderry. After being diagnosed with cancer of the colon a few years ago and undergoing surgery, Willie felt isolated and needed someone to talk to.

“It was a huge shock. I just couldn’t take in the fact I had cancer of the colon.

“The good news though was that the cancer hadn’t spread and I didn’t need radio or chemo therapy,” says Willie who had surgery to remove 5cm of his colon.

After he recovered from surgery and got his first set of good results, he tried not to worry, but it wasn’t easy. Having a big family there was always someone around, but he still felt alone.

“It plays on your mind. I’m not cancer-free; I still have to have annual check-ups for five years.

“You can feel very alone and to be honest I was afraid I’d start getting a bit depressed.”

However, that’s when a neighbour told Willie about the local cancer support group, Pink Panthers.

It grew from the work of its female equivalent, The Pink Ladies, which is one of the five organisations receiving funding today.

“I felt at home right away, meeting other men with cancer experiences. For the first time I felt I wasn’t alone,” says Willie.

“There’s a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit too and we sometimes have people along to give talks on a range of subjects from lifestyle and health to finance and medicines.

“The Pink Panthers team is always there for you - you can ring them any time and if you have an issue they can’t help you with, they’ll find you someone who can.”

Willie is now using his story to help educate other men in North West about their health, but it’s still always on his mind that the cancer could return.

“I’ll not be able to say I’m clear of cancer for another few years; I’ll not believe it until the consultant gives me that last annual check. It’s always with you in the back of your mind; it never leaves you. But with the support of the Pink Panthers and my family I’m able to cope,” he says.

“The most important thing though is not to ignore the early warning signs. Don’t be embarrassed and get to your doctor. It could save your life. It saved mine.”

The Pink Ladies, has been awarded a £431,874 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s People and Communities programme. Their four year project is expanding on the support they currently offer to help more men and women who are suffering from cancer, and their families/carers. They are working in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, including, the rural areas of Eglinton, Donnemana, Castlederg and the Roe Valley in Limavady.

Support includes weekend advice services for people who are undergoing treatment Monday to Friday, counselling, carers support activities, education programmes for schools, communities and workplaces, and health and well-being activities. They are also setting up a user steering group to help guide the project and volunteers will be trained to provide valuable support to people from whom everyday activities which have become more difficult.

The Pink Ladies is one of five groups receiving a share of £1,324,954 from Big Lottery Fund’s People and Communities programme.

Dialogue for Diversity also received a grant of £132,872 for their three-year Migrant Support project, which is supporting Portuguese and Romanian speaking migrants in the Portadown area. The project is helping them overcome communication barriers, gain access to services, and meet others to get support.

Parenting for NI in Belfast has been awarded £382,300 for their five-year Dads Together project which is working across Northern Ireland. The project is providing a range of resources, education and support for separated fathers and promoting the importance of fathers having an active role in their child’s life.

Community First Responders County Armagh & Tyrone also received £269,017. The grant is being used to train volunteers in the Brantry, Benburb, Blackwatertown, Collegelands, Eglish, Moy, Loughall and Tullysaran areas to be first responders to cardiac emergencies. Each volunteer will carry a fully equipped resuscitation bag to allow them to deliver high quality care and resuscitation.

The Brain Injury Foundation which is based in Camlough, Co Armagh has been awarded £108,891 for their Vision 2020 project. The grant is being used for staffing and programme costs so they can expand the range of activities they offer within their centre which supports survivors of brain injuries, their families and carers.

Click here to read more about these projects

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.”

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
Website:   http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/northernireland
Twitter:    @BIGNIonline
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BigLotteryFundNI

Notes to Editors:

  • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 we have awarded over £6.5billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £35 billion has been raised and more than 490,000 grants awarded.