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All about Awards for All

19 December 2014

Do you want to make a difference in your community? Have you got a project in mind?Two men working at  a desk

Awards for All grants funding is open to a wide range of voluntary and community organisations, as well as some statutory organisations, like schools and health bodies. A wide range of community, health, educational and environmental projects can apply for these grants.

Grants start from a minimum of £300 to a maximum of £10,000:

Minimum grant

Maximum grant




Northern Ireland









Clicking on this link will give you access to the types of projects which have been funded in the past  (we’d recommend you use the drop down boxes in the advanced search section)

Awards for All will fund a range of projects from improving local spaces to bringing local people together to learn or be more active. We will only pay for Arts, Heritage or Sports activities that meet one or more of our outcomes:

  • people have better chances in life
  • stronger communities
  • improved rural and urban environments
  • healthier and more active people and communities.

Need help? Read our guidance

Any arts, heritage or sports activities that do not meet one or more of our outcomes should apply for funding from another source.

Linda Yeo from our England Big Advice team wrote this blog’… have you read our other Big Advice blogs?

Home by the Fireside

17 December 2014

As most of us look forward to a chance to cosy up and relax with our families, hundreds of thousands of people in England have nowhere to celebrate and no-one to celebrate with.

Drop-in centre with clients in attendance

SIFA Fireside drop in centre

It is thanks to Birmingham homelessness and alcohol misuse charity SIFA Fireside, that Gary, 45, has both of those things. Down on his luck, out of work and with no home to go to, SIFA helped Gary get back on his feet, train for a job and find somewhere to call home. That’s why this Christmas he’s returning to SIFA to repay the kindness by volunteering.

“The wife and I were married about eight years and we started having real problems. She had an alcohol problem. We separated, then got back together and separated and got back together again. I didn’t want to give up on her, but in the end, by staying, I was giving up on myself. When I finally walked out all I had was a little rucksack and a plastic bag. I was in an out of hostels until I heard about SIFA.

It was here that I got the help I needed. I wanted to do a gas safe course for a while. I hadn’t been in a learning environment since polytechnic in the 80’s. SIFA helped me get the funding to do it. I’m on the first year of my course now and I’m looking at being self-employed by 2016.

I’ve got my own front door now. They helped me sort that out and provided me with basics furnishing to get started. I pop in and out as I want.

SIFA is also helping me to sort out my debts, the house repossession and all the legal things to do with that. Solicitors volunteer here and give us advice.

At Christmas, I’ll come down here when I’m not in college and help out. I’ve made new friendships. It’s been a learning process. I enjoy helping out. We are all human beings and I want to do whatever I can to help.”


Gary sorted his life out with help from SIFA’s Changing Lives project which received £326,956 from Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities funding programme.


Reducing reoffending… have your say!

17 December 2014

by Carolyn Sawers

Many community and voluntary organisations across the UK are working to support people who have a history of offending to change their lives for the better.

As a funder we are keen to champion this work and learn from it. Since 2006 the Fund has supported more than 1200 projects in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland (worth around £390m) working with people at risk of offending, ex-offenders, their families and their communities.

Some are large initiatives like our Realising Ambition programme, aiming to prevent first time offending; but many are small projects, like the local restoration project my colleague Michelle Cherry visited in Northern Ireland.

Man and woman talking at a desk at Catch 22 offices

In 2013 we asked Fiona Ellis to write up and analyse 12 case studies from all four countries. These stories show different approaches to reducing reoffending, as well as revealing common themes like the importance of access to employment, stable accommodation and strong family ties.

From keeping an eye out for other initiatives in this area I’ve also increasingly come across examples that are focused on mentoring, volunteering and sometimes volunteer mentors!

Which leads me to ask five questions about reducing reoffending:

  1. What other examples of effective work are there out there?
  1. Which models respond best to local differences?
  1. What strengths do ex-offenders themselves bring to the table?
  1. What other data is there that would help us understand what works, and what doesn’t?
  1. If you had £10k, £100k or £1m to help bring about change for ex-offenders and the communities they live in, what would you do?

I’d love to hear your answers to any or all of these questions, or to hear what questions you would add to the list.

You can share your views using this quick survey or by emailing your numbered answers to until 16 January 2015.

How do we measure our impact?

12 December 2014

Our 12 HeadStart test and learn projects are busy working to build the resilience of thousands of young people, but how do we capture all of this to share and learn from?  Mia Eisenstadt from Reos, one of the partners delivering our HeadStart evaluation explains more:

Close up of child playing with lights

Impact… how do we measure it?

HeadStart is providing funding for 12 local partnerships to pilot projects that aim to prevent serious mental health conditions in young people and build personal resilience, in a context of rising rates of serious mental health issues in children and young people. But, how can we understand the impact these projects have on young people’s lives?

Big Lottery Fund have appointed a collaboration between the Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU) part of the Anna Freud Centre and UCL, University of Manchester, Common Room, and Reos to conduct an evaluation. The evaluation will look into the extent that local projects meet three HeadStart outcomes:

  1. enabling young people to cope with difficult experiences and do well in life
  2. reducing the onset of serious mental health conditions through resilience building
  3. learning from approaches to contribute to an evidence base for service re-design and investment in prevention.

The evaluation team are currently implementing the first of four phases of the evaluation. During phase one we are working with all 12 partnerships through workshops and information sharing to develop a common measurement framework (CMF). This framework will be rolled out across all areas to show changes in children and young people’s mental health, well being and resilience. As part of this activity we have been mapping out what types of support each partnership is providing to children and their families to support their mental well being and resilience.

Mia Eisenstadt

Mia Eisenstadt, Reos

Future phases will look to collect online survey data, refine and trial the model and collect qualitative data for each site through focus groups and interviews. At the end of this work a report will be published to share the results of the evaluation.

To make sure that the work of the evaluation team is both engaging and accessible to young people, two young advisors Amy and Naomi have been working with us to help design processes and governance to enable young people to make a valuable contribution in the local and national evaluation.

Our hope for the future is that the evidence we capture adds to the understanding of how to help young people navigate through adversity and bounce back from problems in life. Our wish is that it will not only contribute to an evidence base for the prevention of mental health problems, but also support more young people across England to live happier and healthier lives.

Mia Eisenstadt, Reos


To keep up to date with HeadStart please sign up to the Big Lottery Fund’s quarterly ebulletin

Also check out the Fulfilling Lives: Head Start projects

Together, helping young people bounce back

11 December 2014

Experts in young people’s mental health get together to support our HeadStart projects.

Raynal Somiah from YoungMinds tells us more about what they hope to achieve…

Group of young people looking at cards

HeadStart Blackpool residential training session

YoungMinds in partnership with boingboing / University of Brighton and Achievement for All are excited to be working with the Big Lottery Fund and local area partnerships in what could be ground breaking and revolutionary work.

Collectively we form the HeadStart Support and Development consortium. We bring a wealth of experience around children and young people’s mental health, resilience, commissioning support, systems planning and change, and in depth work with schools.

Using our expertise and experience, we will support and challenge the local partnerships to:

  • achieve positive change for young people and their families
  • strengthen their partnership working and delivery
  • develop bids for further investment in stage three of HeadStart
  • develop sustainable whole system approaches to building resilience.

Each local partnership has been appointed a HeadStart Advisor who will coach and support; offering development opportunities for individuals and partnerships.

Group of young boys working  with an adult

Getting everyone involved!

We want to make sure young people’s ideas and experiences are shaping this exciting programme. We are bringing together a network of young people with an interest in resilience and mental health to become a ‘HeadStarter’. HeadStarters will work with us, the local partnerships and their young people; making a valuable contribution our work.

Our first important task is to hold a review workshop with each local partnership. This is an opportunity to take stock of progress so far and reflect on future areas for development. We will also be exploring how the partnerships are doing against our specially developed self-assessment framework. The framework describes our expert view on ‘what good looks like’ in approaches to building resilience for vulnerable young people. It is based on the existing evidence, experience and practice we hold across our consortium. Throughout the programme we will be returning to this framework as a benchmark against which partnerships will be challenged and supported to develop through our support.

For more information please visit

Connor’s HeadStart

10 December 2014

Young people learned to recruit staff, rate commissioning contracts, award funds and more, so they can help shape every aspect of HeadStart Blackpool. Fifteen year old Connor, shares his experience in residential training with the Young People’s Steering Group…


Connor and two other young people in onsies

Connor (centre) chilling in his onesie!

Day one:

​We arrived at Crowden Outdoor Education Centre in Derbyshire just in time for lunch. I wasn’t too nervous because we had all met before, but I was excited to be away in a new place and learning new things.

First of all we did a session on pack types, which helped us identify the type of dog we are based on our characteristics, traits and personalities. I was a ‘coach-dog’ which means I help others and support them. I was pleased I came out as this because I do like to help others.

After a session on recruitment and selection, we had a quiz, which got competitive as the young people tried to beat the staff team. We had a bonus point challenge to build the best tower from marshmallows and spaghetti sticks — not easy when your team keeps eating the sweets! It had been a long day so I was glad to get to bed.


Day two:

Everyone was up for a full English at 8.30. We spent the morning playing team games including trying to make a chair out of balloons. We then had to think how we would evaluate these games, learning about open and closed questions and their advantages and disadvantages. We talked about how we can carry this on with staff. I really like workshops where we reflect and can learn from experiences.

Before lunch we did a session on budgeting and commissioning (more exciting than it sounds).  The decision-making power was good, but it was hard to make the right choices, as there were so many people to think about. I can’t wait to do this in ‘real-life’ for HeadStart Blackpool.

After lunch we went raft building. I have a lot of outdoor experience because I am doing my Duke of Edinburgh Award, so knew what to expect. But some people really had to challenge themselves to conquer their fears.  I enjoyed the challenge mostly because the water was freezing and the better the raft, the less chance of us getting wet!

Excitement grew after dinner as everyone pulled out their onesies for our onesie and chill party. I was Spyro the dragon, the video game character, in a bright purple onesie with a tail. There were sheep, ghosts, Star Wars characters and a couple of Minnie Mouses. After intense debate, we settled on Frozen for our movie. I am a secret Frozen fan so was happy but I made myself feel sick with the amount of popcorn I ate!


The HeadStart trainees at the Crowden Outdoor Education Centre in Derbyshire

The HeadStart trainees at the Crowden Outdoor Education Centre in Derbyshire

Day three:

We couldn’t resist scaling the huge hill that stands over the centre. So we had an early climb to take in the brilliant views. After posing for selfies, we headed back for breakfast.

We spent the morning planning the best ways to involve young people in evaluating the services they receive. We discussed the pros and cons of 1-2-1 interviews, questionnaires, small meetings, through to conferences. We talked about issues such as confidentiality and being sensitive to young people’s needs.

Before we left, we cleaned the centre from top to bottom (there were lots of sweet wrappers). Then we had to write a positive comment about everyone in the group. They were sealed in an envelope and should have been kept until we were home, but there were lots of sneaky looks on the bus. I was so chuffed with the comments I got. People see me as funny, nice and caring. One said ‘pain in the bum’ and ‘a smiley face!’ I am still trying to figure out which youth worker gave me that one!!

It was a brilliant three days, everyone joined in and worked together. The staff were helpful and friendly and the activities were cool. We all learnt loads. We are excited about the next few weeks with new staff joining and HeadStart contracts being discussed.


To keep up to date with HeadStart please sign up to the Big Lottery Fund’s quarterly ebulletin

Also check out the other Fulfilling Lives: Head Start projects

Dr Ranj supports Baby Buddy App

8 December 2014

Best Beginning’s Baby Buddy app, funded through Reaching Communities, launched last month with a wealth of support behind the app. The app is also being piloted in three of our A Better Start areas: Bradford, Nottingham and Lambeth.

Dr. Ranj Singh, NHS Doctor, member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Medical Presenter is also supporting the app and tells us more in his guest blog:

Dr Ranj Singh

I’ve been working with the charity Best Beginnings on the development of the free Baby Buddy app for some time now, and was excited to be at the official launch on 19th November!

Baby Buddy is a pioneering example of the future of pregnancy and parenting support.  It acts just like a ‘digital best friend’!  Not only does it give the user useful tips and help anytime they want it, it also acts as a digital companion, helping you navigate the sometimes confusing world of parenting.

When you open the app, not only does it look stunning, it immediately draws you in and asks you to create a character of your own design to become your “buddy”, perhaps in the image of a trusted face you know or someone you’ve made up, who acts as your point-of-contact.  Immediately, it becomes personal to the user: by using some basic information, the app refers to you individually, mentioning you by name, your partner – if you have one – and your baby by name.

Furthermore, the information presented is from trusted experts, so you don’t have to worry about whether it’s reliable. You can store your appointments, look things up, create and keep track of goals, watch videos of common queries, and even ask your own questions! And in the officially launched version, there will be local listings of services and places for parents, as well as the “Bump Booth” and “Bump Book” which are diaries for thoughts, feeling and photos that can even be shared online if people want to do that. It’s a really rich all-round experience.

Baby Buddy AppSoft-launched in July, Baby Buddy is accessible through smart phones. Made possible through Big Lottery funding, it’s unique in many ways – especially so because it has been developed with input from a host of professional organisations and royal colleges, including the the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association and the Institute of Health Visiting and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. All of these organizations have officially endorsed Baby Buddy, as has the Department of Health. On top of that, it’s had a great deal of input from young parents, which means it’s not only useful, it’s also engaging and fun!

There is a growing range of health and wellbeing apps out there, but this isn’t just any old app – it’s going to become a routine part of everyone’s care.  Best Beginnings, the parenting charity behind it, are working at a grass-roots level with local health authorities and multi-disciplinary staff to embed it in care pathways.  As part of its national distribution and active embedding into care pathways, there are a range of free leaflets and posters available for healthcare professionals, as well as training available to use the app – more information is available for professionals.  Best Beginnings have already sent out over 38,000 leaflets and 2000 posters to professionals across the UK.

What’s critical about a healthcare intervention like this is the rigor behind its creation. Besides the content scrutiny and the engaging user experience, feedback has been sought from professionals and parents throughout its creation. In fact it will be continually sought as the app will be iteratively developed and improved over time.  Best Beginnings are able to draw on anonymised in-app data to gain valuable insights on how different types of user use and rate the app, as well as feedback on the local services promoted within it. The charity can create bespoke reports for commissioners looking at uptake, usage and feedback in a locality.

It’s this sort of holistic approach which will make a difference for projects like this: large scale take-up which won’t just help users, but is genuinely positioned to increase appropriate use of services and also gather insights to support service development.  It’s a win-win situation.

Above all, what apps like Baby Buddy can really excel at is reaching out to people who want and need support but don’t know how to access it, particularly young people.  Those who work with young people and families on a daily basis will know how difficult it can be for them to get the information they need in a way that is relevant – especially when it comes to pregnancy and parenting.  If we want to engage traditionally hard-to-reach audiences, then we have to start thinking out of the box and embracing new platforms.

At a basic level, when it comes to our health and wellbeing, we all want information and support we can count on. Technology can play a powerful supporting role, providing accurate information in a friendly and non-judgmental way. But an app like Baby Buddy isn’t designed to be instead of friends, partners or healthcare professionals. On the contrary, it’s actively encouraging users to make and keep appointments and to make the most out of the social and professional support around them, to help them maximise their own health and wellbeing and that of their child.

Download the Baby Buddy app for free now! 


Snap Something Brilliant

28 November 2014

Communities are invited to share their seasonal snaps…

Image of Snap #SomethingBrilliant posterDo Something Brilliant, delivered by The Media Trust, is Community Channel’s flagship campaign, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The project encourages people to do the Little Brilliant Things that make a big difference in their communities.

To celebrate the campaign in the lead up to the festive season, Community Channel has launched a photo competition. All eligible pictures will be published as part of a gallery showcasing brilliant communities and will be entered into a prize draw to win an iPad Air.

Alex Kann, Director of Community Channel and Audiences, said: “The competition is a great chance to celebrate the success of the Do Something Brilliant campaign, so please encourage your communities, grantees and friends to get snapping.”

The Community Channel was created to bring charities and the public closer together. It gives charities the chance to showcase their work, help secure national and regional media coverage and generate more support, funding and volunteers.

Alex said: “We have Outreach Managers based across the UK who train charities, work on TV programmes and run advisory groups that help to shape campaigns for each region. In its first year we trained 130 organisations and more than a thousand charities used one or more of our services.

Almost every organisation we trained came away with new skills in media, communication and content production, with nine in ten of them, expecting these skills to enable them to better connect with their communities and supporters.

Around 450 organisations had their campaigns promoted through Community Newswire with 220 gaining new funding, volunteers or support thanks to the coverage they generated.”

This year, it is estimated that the channel will be watched by around ten million viewers.

Change Makers winner with caption Alex added: “Do Something Brilliant also has some fantastic  support from the media industry. For example, The Sunday  Times recently ran The Change Makers competition.  It  crowned Joe Dickinson (pictured) social innovator of the year  for his Call and Check service, where postal workers quickly  check in on people who need a bit of extra care.”

Michael Langmead, Big Lottery Fund funding officer (investments), said: “Do Something Brilliant can help our grant holders to raise the profile of their projects and highlight the brilliant work they do in communities. The project provides grant holders with additional skills, tools and platforms at no cost, in addition to showing them how to take full advantage of them.”

Snap #SomethingBrilliant is running until 16 December. To enter the competition, simply take a snap of something brilliant in your community and send it to @dsbrilliant through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #somethingbrilliant.

For more information click on Snap #SomethingBriliant



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