Skip to content

A beacon of hope for families living with HIV

1 December 2015

Paula Evenden is manager of the Women and Families Service at The Sussex Beacon, a specialist HIV charity which helps people living with HIV to live healthy, independent lives.

Today, World AIDS Day, Paula tells us about her work and the difference the lottery funded service makes.

Paula-Evenden,-manager-of-positive-health-for-women-project-in-Brighton“I have been working in the HIV sector for over 10 years and have had the privilege of managing The Women and Families Service for the last seven years.

The Big Lottery Fund awarded us £478,529 over five years in 2011 for The Positive Health for Women project. The funding has enabled us to work with over 300 women and their families living and affected by HIV across Sussex.

Our Service is the only dedicated Women and Families service across the county and provides psychological and practical support through 1-1, peer support groups, courses and training.

Globally women make over half of HIV infections, with 34,400 women across the UK living with HIV.

Women are more vulnerable to HIV through sexual inequalities and violence and we see through our work how stigma can impact greatly on a women’s choices”.

“One woman we’ve worked with is Yinka. She had been diagnosed with HIV on finding out she was pregnant. Now in her 40’s, she was struggling to cope; she hadn’t been taking her HIV medication regularly and was feeling suicidal. Yinka was in a violent relationship, she had poor spoken English and was completely dependent on her husband.

“Hattie, our Project Worker, provided Yinka with practical and psychological support and supported her move to a women’s refuge. In a safe space and with Hattie’s help, Yinka was linked to a HIV community nurse, a social worker and housing support.

“A short admission to our inpatient unit helped Yinka learn to manage her HIV medication. On discharge she was moved to temporary accommodation and started to rebuild her life and her health. Yinka joined our women’s group, accessed our health workshops and took English lessons.

Yinka told us – “I feel a different person to be honest. I never thought in my whole life to be able to look after myself and do things by myself, go to the bank, to college, do volunteer work by myself and here I am doing it.”

“The future of services rely on women living with HIV to inform the kind of services they need for the future and at The Sussex Beacon we are passionate about making sure this happen.

We see more challenges today than ever. Poverty, mental health, treatment choices, family relationships, violence and continued inequalities in society make this challenging, but I know through the amazingly strong, beautiful, sensitive, spiritual, resilient women we work with, like Yinka, how being brave, engaging with each other and supporting services can allow them to fly.”

You can find out more about the services that Sussex Beacon offers, you can visit their website or follow @sussexbeacon on Twitter.




More than a Game – building the best start

30 November 2015

In late November 2015 Blackpool was the venue for free activities for families and children, delivered as part of the launch of A Better Start Blackpool – £45m of Lottery funding to develop a 10-year programme to improve chances for future generations by focusing on pregnancy and the early years.

Daily activities were set around sport, arts and crafts, storytelling and the Brain Game – a new activity delivered with the support of the FrameWorks Institute in the USA and the Palix Foundation in Canada.

Chief Executive of the FrameWorks Institute, Nat Kendall-Taylor spoke to us:

Hi Nat. The Brain Game is new to our shores. Can you tell us what it is and why it was created?

Brain Architecture—The Game is an interactive and dynamic activity that allows groups of people—from

Close up of Game materials

The Brain Architecture Game

5 to 500—to deeply learn some of the foundational ideas that are emerging from the science of early childhood development. Put more simply, it’s a game that teaches people science.

The Game is the product of a collaboration of Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, The Creative Media and Behavioral Health Center at the University of Southern California, Dr. Judy Cameron at the University of Pittsburgh and the FrameWorks Institute. I realize that’s a mouthful, but a really cool thing about this game is that it has brought together the best science of development, the best science of communication and the best science of game play and design. That is quite a cast of characters and it’s really unique collaboration.

The game was created out of need. How can we engage large groups of people in science principles in a way that makes sense and will stick with them? Dr. Judy Cameron was keen to engage large numbers of people in what she and her colleagues were learning about the role of severe adversity and stress in the way that kids develop and turn out. The Game was conceived of as a way to quickly and effectively—and with fidelity to the science—get a large number of people to appreciate how development works and the role of adversity in this process. And the game that has come out of the collaboration has been very effective in doing this—in a way that sitting through a lecture (even a really great lecture) or reading a paper (even a really great paper), just can’t do. A lot of people out there who are interested in learning and translation are coming to this same realization—games drive messages home, make ideas sticky and leave a lasting impression in ways that other means of communication do not.

And how will it go about improving outcomes for young children?

FrameWorks Institute logo

FrameWorks Institute

The idea is that the game is a form of communication. It effectively takes a set of complex, abstract scientific principles and ‘passes’ them to people in the course of playing an engaging and collaborative game. As someone who studies communication, this is a very cool application of science translation! Step one in the bigger idea is that engaging people in this game drives home key science principles. Step two is that learning these principles in a deep and sticky way should lead people to bring these principles to their lives as decision-makers, parents, community members and practitioners. It’s actually really simple (I prefer ‘elegant’ to simple): use a game to teach people science principles that they can use as they go about their lives. Elegant, right?

So what will someone ‘playing the game’ have to do?

People playing the game will get to build a brain! They will get to take the experiences that children have—both positive and negative—and use them try to build a supportive structure and a solid foundation. The game allows people to see the way that experiences influence the way that children develop and how this development is either fortified or challenged by the people, resources and communities that children live with. People will need to work with the genetic hands they are dealt and with the experiences that accumulate along the way to create solid and stable Brain Architecture—a structure that can bear the weight of adversity and respond in positive ways to life and challenges.

They will need to suspend the way that they normally think of learning science—this is not a lecture disguised as a game and it’s not a scientific paper cut up into bite-sized chunks. It is a way of using the power of play and the engagement that comes from being immersed in an activity to transfer and drive home a set of ideas that people are probably not used to using in how they think about kids, families, communities, policies, practices and programs.

But I understand the game is actually quite a sophisticated tool. Can you tell us about some of the research that underpins it?

The game itself has been rigorously tested for its playability and the effects that it has on people’s

understandings of early childhood development. But at a deeper level, the language and concepts that are embedded in the game—Brain Architecture, Toxic Stress, Serve and Return and other frames—are the result of years of communications research where Frameworks’ researchers have developed and tested different frames to see what they do for people’s understanding and thinking about early childhood and development. And the developmental science that runs through the game is rock solid. It comes out of decades of careful science from field-leading researchers. The reason why the game works is that it puts together tested ideas from these levels—playability, communication and the science of development. And we know that it’s working when all of this careful work, hours of thinking and years of research fade out and people just engage in the challenge in front of them—and walk away understanding science in a way that they didn’t before they had a chance to play a challenging game. How cool is that?

Who knew that giving people a way to have fun would require so much hard, behind-the-scenes work?

I know that you are doing a lot of work to help support Blackpool Better Start, can you tell us more about it?

A Better Start cartoon

A Better Start

I was just in Blackpool a month ago giving a talk at the first big meeting of the Blackpool Better Start initiative and the event was AWESOME! There is such an amazing group of people that have come together to be part of this work and such outstanding energy and excitement around this work—it was contagious and I feel very lucky to have the chance to participate in this work. The most impressive thing to me is the deep dedication to making lives better for children and families in Blackpool—you could feel it and it was very exciting.

My job at the conference was to distil five years of work that FrameWorks has been doing in the UK, and specifically, in Blackpool, on translating the science of early childhood development. This was not an easy thing to do in less than an hour. Since beginning our work in the UK we have been looking deeply at how people think about early childhood and at how, through frames, people’s understanding can be expanded to include new ideas about what we can do to improve the lives of children, families and communities. In Blackpool this has meant a lot of interviews with people about kids, families and development, a series of ‘on-the-street’ interviews where we’ve tested new frames, and framing surveys in which we’ve looked at how hearing different frames effects the ways that people think about child development. We’ve also been working closely with a group of key communicators in Blackpool to train them on the results of this research and framing more generally. The idea is these framing ambassadors will go out and train others on how to communicate the exciting, but highly technical and abstract, science of early childhood in more accessible and applicable ways so that people can have access to and benefit from this information in how they live their lives as individuals and community members.

Thanks Nat!

You can find out how parents in Blackpool played a role in shaping the funding themselves and about Blackpool A Better Start.

Business Connectors get communities and business working together

23 November 2015

Business Connectors are talented individuals seconded from business, trained by Business in the Community and placed in local communities of greatest need. They encourage collaborations amongst a wide range of organisations and become an essential link between business and local community organisations – helping to change the culture of how business and communities work together.

In 2012, Big Lottery Fund announced a grant of £4.8 million to fund the development and infrastructure of the programme. Figures show that for every £1 invested by the Big Lottery, £8.92 of support has been leveraged into communities where there is greatest need.

maxine-ennis-BlogSizeHere Maxine Ennis, who is CEO of The Rotunda a learning centre and community focused charity in Kirkdale, one of the most disadvantaged wards in the country – explains how Business Connectors have helped to transform her organisation to the benefit of the local community in Liverpool.

“I was a student at The Rotunda in the early nineties after leaving school with only a few qualifications. I was teenage mum and, like a lot of young women in my position, the centre offered me crucial childcare support. I can honestly say that I never would have gone on to higher education and perused the professional career I have, if not for this place.

Today I work in the same office I took those classes, having been appointed Chief Executive of the charity in 2009, in fact my predecessor taught me.  At the time the Trustees knew they had to take a different approach to become more sustainable as there were government cuts on the horizon.

The challenge for me was to bring in a more business-like approach, while not losing the culture and everything else this centre stood for. A few years after my appointment I met Kelly Pipe, who was the Business Connector for North Liverpool.

Kelly had been seconded to the area from Royal Mail and she soon introduced me to a business architect from United Utilities who was so impressed by what we were trying to do here that he offered us a series of six free strategic sessions – and in turn I developed a sustainability plan.

Inside The Rotunda

Inside The Rotunda

It was a very important turning point as it made me think clearer about where I needed to take the organisation. The help offered resulted in the delivery of a three year business plan. I’m now reviewing the whole strategy of the charity. That’s just one example of the benefits of working with a Business Connector. Bernie Hollywood (Lloyds Banking Group) introduced me to SSE – School of Social Entrepreneurs which led to a £15k bursary for Leadership training – that was an amazing experience. Tracey Nairn (HM Passport Office) has also helped me on many occasions.

In their own ways, all the Business Connectors I’ve come into contact with have helped me grow as a business leader within our sector and build organisational capacity. Today our figures show that we are now reaching nearly 2,500 people a year, up from 250 and just like when I was a teen we continue to offer ‘womb to grave’ support for the local community.

Staff numbers have also doubled – from 8 to 17 – whilst turnover has increased from less than £150k a year to £500k. I’m not saying that’s all me; I’ve got a brilliantly talented team around me and a fabulous network of friends in the Connector programme.”

The Business Connector programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, is creating a network of Connectors across England and Scotland.

Click for more about The Rotunda charity.

Why age should be no barrier to volunteering

16 November 2015

Today we have announced a £264,944 grant to care and housing support charity The Abbeyfield Society to develop volunteering opportunities for people over 75. Head of Volunteering Tracey Avison tells us about the wealth of benefits this can bring and that age is no barrier to making a positive difference to your local community.

Volunteer Archie

Volunteer Archie

How will this funding support Abbeyfield’s work?

Abbeyfield is a charity that provides housing and care for older people, but we are committed to doing so much more than this. Our four key values of openness, honesty, caring and respect are central to everything we do. We are determined to tackle loneliness amongst older people, foster a friendly, family atmosphere and, above all, increase quality of life for the people who live with us.

Volunteering is deep rooted at Abbeyfield. In fact, we were founded by our first ever volunteer, Richard Carr-Gomm in 1956. We are now supported by over 4000 volunteers. We want to combine our legacy of volunteering with our beliefs in active ageing to support our residents to volunteer. Some already do, like Archie who at 104 still regularly volunteers at his local church or our ‘knit and natter’ group in Nottingham who have been busy sending blankets to Syria. But this is ad hoc and we’d like more older people to reap the positive health and well being aspects of volunteering. This grant will enable us to learn about and share the types of volunteering opportunities that those aged 75 and above can, and want, to be involved in.

Why are you focusing on volunteering opportunities for the over 75s and what are the benefits?

Volunteering is good for the individual and the communities they live in. It gives people a sense of purpose and a feeling of giving something back. Between the ages of 65-74 years a third of people are likely to volunteer, but unfortunately this number declines to 21 per cent for those 75 and over, and declines further amongst the over 80s.

The Citizenship Survey 2008-09 (the last survey that published such data) showed the barriers to volunteering are quite different for the 75-plus age group than other groups. 45 per cent said they “have an illness or disability that prevents me” (compared to 8 per cent for all age groups) but surprisingly, 57 per cent said simply that “I am too old” (compared to 3 per cent for all age groups).

We’d like to use this project to overcome some of these hurdles. Where does this age limit on volunteering come from? What volunteer roles are stopping people with an illness or disability from feeling included? We think any instance of ‘making time’ for others should be seen as volunteering, from something as small as laying the table or reading to friends, and our project aims to provide our residents with these sorts of opportunities. We can’t wait to work with the Institute for Volunteering Research to discuss this further.

How do you involve beneficiaries to ensure the volunteering opportunities are most relevant to them?

No resident will be excluded from the project. We will use our vast experience of working with older people to ensure that volunteering opportunities are both available and achievable.

The project will involve training what we call ‘inspiration volunteers’, recruited from the local community, to work within our homes to help develop action plans, supporting residents to volunteer in the local community or the supported living or residential home setting. We’ll use buddying and mentoring to ensure volunteering plans can be tailored to each person, including the most vulnerable or those with high complex needs.

What are the biggest challenges facing older people today?

Loneliness is a major one – our doors are always open to those on their own, be it through our Sharing Sundays scheme, where we offer Sunday lunches, or our annual Coping at Christmas campaign, where we run free activities, meals and even overnight stays to those who find themselves alone during the festive period.

Another big challenge is the mistakenly held view that older people are burdens or are unable to give anything back to their communities. This simply isn’t true and our project will challenge these negative stereotypes. Volunteering is, after all, for everyone.

Weekly webinars: live application support

10 November 2015

Applying for funding can be overwhelming at times. You may be looking for advice on our website or perhaps you are not even sure how to begin.

We hold weekly webinars hosted by our helpful and knowledgeable funding officers who will give you tips on applying for funding, including how to evidence the need for your project and how to demonstrate the outcomes of your work.

We will also give you tips on how best to present the work of your project and examples of successful projects. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions at the end of the session.

Young girl with headphones at pcWe will talk you through:

  • what we could help to pay for
  • examples of successful projects
  • hints and tips on how to put together your application including sources of evidence
  • understanding project outcomes.

After attending a webinar you will hopefully be able to:

  • understand what we mean by need and how best to evidence it
  • better outline your projects objectives
  • know what difference you want your project to make
  • have a greater knowledge of governance and best practice.

Feedback from previous participants has been positive. Comments include “It increased my confidence to apply for a Reaching Communities ’ grant”;

“It has improved my understanding of outcomes, which has in turn helped me articulate my own project outcomes clearly and effectively”;

“The webinar about ‘Evidencing need’ was encouraging, it gave good quality examples of what works well and was easy to follow”.

This is just one way we can support applicants in their funding journey: putting you in the lead. Webinars are available each week – sign up to a webinar today

Please find a list of the November webinars below:

Awards for All

Thursday November 12 November 2015 3.00pm – 4.00pm

Thursday November 19 November 2015 3.00pm – 4.00pm

Thursday November 26 November 2015 3.00pm – 4.00pm

Evidencing need – for applicants thinking of applying to the Reaching Communities programme

Tuesday 17 November 2015 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Outcomes – for applicants thinking of applying to the Reaching Communities programme

Tuesday 10 November 2015 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Tuesday 24 November 2015 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Are you ready to apply for a grant?

9 November 2015
Two men & a woman at a desk

Picture Copyright Chris Watt
Tel – 07887 554 193

You want to set up a project that will improve the lives of your local community and you think a grant from the Big Lottery Fund could help you to do it.

But did you know, that, like other funders, we cannot give grants to individuals, no matter how worthy they might be.

To be eligible to apply for money from us, our very first requirement is that you are a UK-based organisation with a bank account in the name of the organisation.

You need to be a not-for-profit organisation but you do not need to be a registered charity to fill in a Big Lottery Fund application. To apply to us you will need:

Is your group ready to apply?

  1. A governing document, such as a constitution
    This document must set out the name and purpose of your organisation. It should also cover how it will work, including how people can join; how your committee will operate and when you will have meetings.
  1. A committee or board with at least three members who are not related to each other or living at the same address.
  1. A bank account in your organisation’s name (as written on the constitution)At least two of the unrelated committee members are required to approve the withdrawal or spending of money from the account.
  1. Annual financial accounts
    These should clearly state the name of your organisation (again, as on the constitution). They also must show the start and end dates for the 12-month period they cover (for example ,1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016) .

They don’t need to be produced by a professional, or audited by accountants, but they will need to be signed as accurate by at least two members of your committee. If your organisation is still in its first 12 months, we may ask for a projection instead, listing any expected spending or income (including any funding you are applying for) over the next year.

I am not sure how to set up an organisation. Where can I get help?

Getting your organisation set up can be tricky, but the good news is there is a wealth of information to help you navigate the journey.

A great place to start is the KnowHow NonProfit Set up a charity page or the Gov.UK Set up a charity page. They provide a step-by-step guide on setting up a new group or organisation, and some useful additional support.

Right, we have got all that in place. What next?

If you would like to talk about which grants you could apply for, contact our advice team. They are always happy to have a chat and point you in the right direction.

To find other funders, also check out the Lottery Good Causes Funding Finder @

Lastly, good luck!


Supporting women with experience of abuse to tell their stories

3 November 2015

In this guest blog Jude Habib of Sound Delivery looks at the importance of discussing sensitive subjects so vulnerable people can have their voices heard. 

I am often told by charity staff that they find it difficult to tell the story of what they do because their work is so sensitive and the people they work with are so vulnerable. Yet if we don’t tell their stories or help to give them a voice how will society know what’s going on?

Women's-storiesThroughout my career I have worked to help tell stories about tough social issues. As a reporter/producer for the BBC I worked on campaigns that involved recording the testimonies of people who were dying, interviewed men who had experienced homelessness and worked in refuges training women to keep audio diaries. These projects gave me a valuable insight into the power of storytelling and the importance of supporting people to feel confident to talk about their situation so their story was heard by a wider audience. By doing this were able to raise awareness of an issue and challenge perceptions and stereotypes. I genuinely believe that with the right approach and understanding, no issue area is out of bounds.

When the recent premiere for the film ‘Suffragette‘ was disrupted by the direct action group Sisters Uncut to put a spotlight on the cuts to domestic violence services, the world’s media was watching. The subject got talked about, and issues affecting women and girls need to be talked about.

I was delighted to read recently that the Big Lottery Fund had announced a funding stream for projects that support women and girls and I hope successful organisations will be encouraged to incorporate first hand storytelling into their work.

In the meantime I’m thrilled to be starting a storytelling project working with the Maya Centre, an amazing charity that provides counselling and psychological support to some of the most vulnerable women in our community, women who have experienced domestic violence, abuse in childhood or have experience war and conflict.

I feel a huge sense of responsibility in ensuring the workshops are a positive experience. I know from working on other storytelling projects that women feel empowered when given the chance to speak out. I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to work alongside a fantastic organisation supporting women whose stories need to be told.

You can follow updates on the project by following @mayacentre #mayavoices

We’d love to hear how your organisation is using storytelling as part of your work.

Next steps for the young and homeless?

31 October 2015

Over the past month, we’ve been focusing on youth homelessness, the key causes and how the projects we fund are supporting vulnerable young people.

According to the charity Homeless Link, 2,744 people are estimated to be sleeping rough on any one night, a 14% increase over the last two years. Meanwhile it’s young people who are struggling the most. Over half of all homeless people are under 25.

Scrabble letters spelling out employment linked wordsCounting down the causes

Young people become homeless for a wide range of reasons, and we looked at the most common causes for young people sleeping rough, as identified by Homeless Link in their Young and Homeless report. These were:

  • illness
  • employment and training
  • substance misuse
  • family and relationship breakdown.

Our experts

Despite the scale of the problem, there are a range of expert organisations which are helping to develop the sector’s understanding of young homelessness and recommendations for what can be done.

First, we heard about Centrepoint’s work to offer tailored support to address wide-ranging health problems; with a focus on early intervention to prevent a young person’s problems reaching crisis point.

Meanwhilehomeless boy holding a cardboard house, dirty hand for Homeless Link, they highlighted the growing employment support offered by homelessness agencies such as career planning and coaching to aid the transition in to employment.

When it c
ame to West Yorkshire Finding Independence (WY-FI) project, substance misuse was best tackled by putting the people first, and actually asking the beneficiaries what they need rather than presuming what the support should be.

Finally, Crisis took a look at the number one cause for young homelessness – family breakdown. They highlighted just how mediation can be a powerful tool – either as a long term solution or temporarily until somewhere else can be found.

Our projects

Throughout the month we’ve also heard from projects across England playing a huge role in tackling homelessness. On World Homelessness Day we heard from Bristol Nightstop and how it’s not just “the ever increasing numbers of anonymous people sleeping in the city centre doorway at 4am” but also “the teenager who stays at a friends’ house and sleeps on a spare sofa.” Meanwhile, on World Poetry Day, the Booth Centre shared with us some of the poetry created by their service users.

Thank you to everyone that joined in the discussion online or shared their experiences with us to help paint a picture of how we can all make a difference locally.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 711 other followers