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Lottery cash to support Rathlin Island residents

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Northern Ireland
Reaching Communities NI
Release date:
10 9 2008
A project to improve the lives of the residents of Rathlin Island is one of two schemes in the Ballymoney area to get a Big Lottery Fund helping hand today.

The Lottery awards are part of a grants roll-out totalling £5,702,118 to 15 projects across Northern Ireland under the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities NI programme. The £18 million programme aims to support a wide range of projects that bring changes to people’s lives, creating stronger communities and improved local environments.

Rathlin Island Development and Community Association, based on the remote Rathlin Island, six miles off Ballycastle, has been awarded a grant of £301,671 for a project to improve the quality of life, community spirit, education and health among island residents.

The Association will use the grant to employ a community development worker who will run a series of health and education programmes in the island’s new community centre, also funded by the Big Lottery Fund, aimed at getting residents more involved in community life including computer classes, healthy eating, pilates, a senior citizens club, and young people’s sporting activities.

The development worker will also lobby public and voluntary bodies such as the Roads Service, the Tourist Board, and health bodies to improve the services that the island community currently receives and encourage more tourists to visit.    

Treasurer, John McCurdy, said: “There are about 90 people now living on the island but we have lost our sense of identity and community spirit  - this needs to change. The new project worker will transform the lives of people on the island and create a range of programmes and activities at the new community centre for people of all ages to enjoy.

“A lot of people here are interested in furthering their education, but we can’t get to classes on the mainland. The new project worker will set up a computer connection that will allow us to link up with colleges on the mainland and take part in whatever classes we want to do.”

He continued: “The project worker will also lobby public bodies so the residents of the island, who are often forgotten about because of our location, can get the roads, health services, and education opportunities they deserve. “

Compass Advocacy Network (CAN) receives an award of £363,711 to create Northern Ireland’s first shadow council of people with learning disabilities to raise views on local community groups, councils and health bodies on a range of issues including housing, health services, money, transport, work, and education.

The organisation, which helps improve the quality of life of people with learning disabilities, will use the grant to create a 25 member Shadow Council who will be nominated and elected for a period of three years by over 400 people with learning disabilities throughout the Causeway area.

With the support of project staff, the Shadow Councillors will lobby on behalf of their peers in a bid to bring about change in the way people think about people with learning disabilities and the services they receive.

Director, Janet Schoffield, explained that the project will give the elected representatives a chance to participate more fully in community life and show that people with learning disabilities deserve to be heard.

“People with learning disabilities are as much a part of the community as anyone else, they have a lot to contribute to their communities, but because of lack of understanding, communication difficulties and a certain amount of prejudice they have not had the chance to do that,” said Janet.

“The council will give people with learning disabilities from right across the Causeway area the opportunity to have a voice, express their opinions, and participate in the democratic and political process.”

“We will give the elected councillors the confidence, self esteem and skills to ensure that they are listened to by people in community groups, councils and health trusts and to influence the service provision they receive. We hope that this project will encourage organisations to trust, understand and listen properly to the views of people with learning disabilities.”

Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, Breidge Gadd, said: “I am delighted that the Big Lottery Fund has supported such a diverse range of projects. It is heartening to see so many projects supporting disadvantaged groups within our society.

“The Reaching Communities NI programme is very effective in ensuring that lottery cash reaches strong and innovative projects which have a real and lasting impact on people lives and this round of grants represents a large vote of confidence for the work the voluntary and community sector.”

Further information:

Andrew Kennedy, Big Lottery Fund Press Office: Tel: 028 9055 1426
Mobile: 07788 640791
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on: 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, more than £21 billion has now been raised and more than 290,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.