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Reaching Out: Supporting Families

Supporting Northern Ireland families to improve their children's lives
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This programme is now closed for stage one applications.  Stage two applications can only be made by applicants who have been invited to proceed from stage one.

Northern Ireland
Funding size:
£500,000 - £700,000
Application deadline:
30/01/2015 12:00:00

What's it all about?

Big Lottery Fund are investing £25 million in projects lasting five years to help families in Northern Ireland to improve their children’s lives.

Our mission is to support people and communities most in need so we expect the projects we fund to help families facing challenges such as separation, absence of a key family member, poverty, substance abuse, disability, social isolation, homelessness, physical and/or emotional abuse.

Research has shown that early childhood has a strong influence on well-being and achievement during the rest of a child’s life and into adulthood. For this programme, we are defining childhood as pre-birth up to the age of 12.

Support for children during their childhood is more likely to be effective if parents and the wider family are involved. By families we mean children and their parents or carers, as well as wider family members, such as grandparents and siblings.

Our funding will support a wide range of activities such as getting parents more involved in their children’s learning, reducing family isolation from the wider community, and strengthening family relationships and communication.

To be successful it’s important that the projects we fund understand and complement the range of relevant strategies and activities in Northern Ireland. These include:

  • Families Matter
  • The Child Poverty Strategy
  • Care Maters NI
  • Our Children and Young People - Our Pledge United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

What are we looking for?

The aim of this programme is to support families in Northern Ireland to improve their children’s lives by building strong and nurturing relationships.

We are looking for the projects that we fund to have a measurable impact on families with children under the age of 12.

Specifically we want all funded projects to make the following changes. We call these our programme outcomes:

  • more families will have greater skills, knowledge and understanding to overcome adversity
  • more children and their families will come together and learn
  • more children and their families will be part of the community that they live in.

Successful applicants will demonstrate that their project will meet these three programme outcomes.

There is a two stage application process.

  • You can submit stage one applications anytime between now and 12 noon on 30 January 2015. Decisions on stage one applications will be made within 20 working days of receipt and we will tell you if you have been invited to make a stage two application.
  • Applicants at stage two of the process will have up to six months to complete the application and send it back to us. Decisions on stage two applications will usually take six months from receipt.

Here are some useful tips that explain what we are looking for in a good application and the programme manager has included her top five tips in a blog.

Please note: If you are unsuccessful at any stage, you will have to wait for two months before submitting a new stage one application. You can use this time to consider our feedback and discuss what to do next with your committee.

Who can apply?

We want the projects we fund to connect with and add value to existing work helping children and their families. Evidence shows that integrated approaches like this are likely to be more successful. Therefore, we will only accept applications from organisations working in partnership. By working in partnership we mean working with other organisations to plan and carry out your project. You might work with organisations from another sector or organisations that have specialist knowledge.

Only voluntary or community sector organisations may apply as the lead organisation in a partnership. The lead organisation must be one of the following:

  • unincorporated association, trust or company set up and registered as a charity
  • unincorporated association set up as a voluntary and community group
  • community interest company
  • not for profit company limited by guarantee
  • community benefit society organisation recognised by HM Revenue and Customs as exempt for tax purposes.

The lead organisation will apply for funding, manage and run the project. If you are awarded funding, you must have a written agreement with the partner organisations which clearly explains each partner’s roles, responsibilities and how you will be working together for the whole project.

Each lead organisation can only hold one grant from this programme but could be involved in other projects as a partner. However, we will consider the capacity of partners involved in multiple projects during our assessment.

You cannot apply if you are a:

  • statutory body
  • profit making organisation
  • sole trader
  • individual
  • professional fundraiser
  • organisation delivering projects outside Northern Ireland.

However, statutory and/or private organisations can be part of a partnership and we strongly support and encourage working between different sectors.

What can you apply for?

We’ll pay for:

  • some or all of your project costs for five years
  • building or refurbishment work, capital equipment or vehicles essential to the delivery of your project up to a maximum of £70,000
  • a contribution towards your overheads.

But we won’t pay for:

  • your day-to-day running costs and current or regular activities that are unrelated to your project
  • any costs that someone else is paying for, if in cash or in kind
  • funds to build up a reserve or surplus, whether distributable or not
  • general appeals or endowments
  • anything you start, spend money on or agree to spend money on before we confirm our funding
  • buying land or buildings
  • activities that are statutory obligations
  • loans or interest repayments
  • religious or political activities
  • travel outside the UK.

Project costs

We ask you to tell us how much your project will cost and how much you need from us in question 4.3 of this stage one application. You will need to provide a detailed budget if you are invited to complete a stage two application.

We understand that your costs may change as you develop your project in more detail. However, the amount you ask for in this stage one application should be broadly in line with what you ask for in your stage two application, if you’re invited to apply.


By overheads we mean the costs of employees, volunteers, equipment, space and services that partly support the project you want us to fund, but also support your other work. If you are invited to complete a stage two application you will have to tell us how you’ve worked out all your costs including your overheads. Guidance on how to calculate your overheads can be found on our website at



Organisation Types

  • Voluntary or community organisation


  • Children and young people


  • Families