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  • Help and support

People and Communities

Supporting positive change in the community
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The People and Communities programme is designed to support you to work with local people to bring about positive changes in your community. A community could be a geographical area or a community of interest.

Northern Ireland
Funding size:
£30,000 - £500,000
Total available:
£60 million
Application deadline:

Key facts

group of people enjoying a meal outside

  • All voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations are eligible to apply.
  • Funding is available between £30,000 and £500,000 for projects lasting between two to five years.
  • We can consider funding capital costs of up to £100,000 within revenue projects.
  • Projects specifically targeting young people aged between 8 and 25 should consider applying to our Empowering Young People programme.  Please check the programme page or give us a call.

Read more in our blogs about how to make your project, connected, people led and strengths based

What we want to see

Please take a moment to watch a short animation which explains how to put people in the lead

Our programme will support projects that clearly meet the following two programme outcomes:

  • people make changes that improve their lives and
  • communities build on their strengths and share learning.

We are looking for projects that embrace the three key themes of the programme and have put together a series of blogs to help you better understand what we mean:

People-led: this means the people you’ll be working with will be meaningfully involved in the development, design and delivery of your project. Have you spoken to people in your community about your project? Have you listened to what they've said and used it to design a better project?

Strengths-based: we’d like to support people and communities to build on the knowledge, skills and experience they already have to make the changes they want. What is working well in your community? How can we support you to make those things even better?

Connected: We want to know that you have a good understanding of other activities and services in your community and can show how your project will complement these. Have you spoken to other groups in your area that are doing similar or related work? Have you thought about how you could support each other?

To help you understand what we are looking for, we have compiled some stories about our funded projects that are already strengths-based, people-led and connected:

How can I apply?

Over the last few years, you have told us that you would prefer to have a chat with us about your project idea before you start to complete an application form. This will help you to make sure your idea fits with our programme criteria and gives us the chance to provide you with some valuable support.

We have listened to you and have opened a dedicated phone line to give you support when applying to the People and Communities programme. You can call the helpline on 0300 123 33 31 to get more information or talk through your project idea with our team.

This isn’t an assessment – the helpline is there to support you to develop your project idea and talk through any questions you have. You shouldn't worry that you only have one chance to call. Remember you can call back again for advice at any time including when you are working on your application. To get the most out of the phone call, make sure that you read the below programme information and have embraced the three key themes of:

  • people-led
  • strengths-based
  • connected.

If we feel that you need to do some work on your idea, we may offer some advice for you to consider before giving you an application form. If we feel your project is ready, we will send you an application form for you to complete and return to us. Once we have received your completed form, we will assess your application for funding.

A sample application form is available below for you to use as a guide to consider when you contact us.

The Big Lottery Fund is a living wage friendly funder. This means that we encourage our applicants to pay their staff the UK Living Wage.

Please visit our Living Wage page for more information

Briefing events

We regularly hold briefing events across Northern Ireland to give potential applicants a chance to discuss their project idea and get some feedback from our team.

If you would like to stay up to date on upcoming briefing events, sign up to our e-bulletin here