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An introduction to using infographics

21 August 2015
Sanjeet Shergill

Sanjeet Shergill

Sanjeet Shergill, Digital Communications Assistant at Ecorys UK, explains how you could use infographics to publicise your project findings.   

Infographics have been talked about a lot recently, but what exactly are they and how can they be used effectively?

An infographic is information presented in a visual way, rather than just as words. They aim to make complex information sharable and easy to understand. Research has shown we remember only 20 per cent of what we read, but far more of what we see. In fact, an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a text article, and also takes up far less space.

Tips for infographic success

However, an infographic is not an automatic route to success, so think carefully about whether it’s the best way to present your information. It is always worth bearing the following in mind:

  • Be sure you have a interesting story to tell
  • Keep it simple, streamlined and focused on a single topic
  • Collect relevant statistics, quotes and pictures about your topic
  • Make sure your infographic answers: who, what, when, why and how?
  • Pay attention to the design, text, and colours, and choose a persuasive headline
  • Ensure your infographic can be shared across various different platforms

New ImageOnline tools to use

These days creating an infographic is fairly simple and there are lots of online tools available to help.

Canva has a database of millions images to choose from. It’s free and simple to use with designs for both web and print. provides lots of templates and images to choose from. You can even upload your own graphics. The minimalist interface with clear drag and drop features, make it simple to edit and customise anything on the canvas. offers a wide variety of charts and graphs to choose from as well as the option to upload pictures and videos. Finished infographics can be shared instantly through social media or embedded on a website.

Piktochart has an option to insert graphics the site has created and upload your own images. The template has a grid to help you line items up evenly and you can choose your own colour schemes and fonts.

Changing young lives

18 August 2015

Becky Lewis, Barnardo’s BASE Children Services Manager tells us about how her team provides support to some of the most vulnerable young people in the South West.

Our new grant from the Big Lottery Fund means we can reach even more young people across the South West who have been sexually exploited.

So what is it exactly that we do?

Becky---BarnardosWe currently support over 120 young people who are experiencing or who have experienced sexual exploitation. This number is growing week on week as word of our new capacity spreads. The young people we support are some of the most vulnerable in the South West – they have been targeted, groomed, sexually exploited, raped, assaulted, trafficked, abused, sold, and let down by people they believed loved them.

All our young people are allocated a support worker who sees them at least weekly. They meet the young people on their terms and where they are comfortable.

Sessions are all unique to the individual young person. Some examples include: support to recognise abuse; understand consent; manage the nightmares, flashbacks and self-injury that result from their abuse; learn about grooming and control; and support when speaking to police or in court.

We don’t think young people can be expected to make progress when they are hungry, homeless, or hurt so we always start by supporting with their basic needs first. This could mean taking them to the sexual health clinic, buying food, getting them clean clothes, or sorting out their housing.

Young people should not be the ones who are expected to safeguard themselves
– we need to make the places they go safe and prevent and prosecute those individuals who harm and abuse them. That’s why most days you will find one of my workers requesting strategy meetings, meeting with police, and considering creative options for how we restrict the abusers rather than the young people they abuse.

Barnardos-blog-picBut this week we will also be celebrating, as we do every week. Despite living through these horrendous experiences our young people can thrive. Take the young person who called last week to say she had got a job working in a shoe shop despite waiting for a court date about the extensive abuse she suffered. Or the young man who starts piano lessons this week with our support in his quest to be the next big thing. With the right support we know that all our young people have the potential to achieve exceptional things.

To find out more about the work of Barnardo’s, visit their website

Gaining skills and making friends

13 August 2015

In this guest blog we hear from Myles Lewis, who recently spent two weeks on work experience in our London office. Myles visited the Abbey Community Centre in Camden, and explains why the centre is making such a huge difference to local older people.

Abbey Community Centre in Camden provides a range of activities for over 50s through the Community Time Camden (CTC) scheme. The scheme helps to tackle loneliness and social isolation and the sessions bring people together and provide a space for socialising and sharing skills.

Upper-Anderstown-Community-forum-Ltd---UTOPIA-(2)Members can share their talents with others and learn new ones in return. They receive ‘credits’ for every hour they help out with a session and they can then use these credits to take part in activities from cookery and IT lessons to exercise classes and bingo sessions. As well as running these sessions, Abbey Community Centre promotes awareness of the issues facing our ageing society and helps to influence action across the UK.

One member of the CTC scheme is Tom, who has been coming to the cookery lessons for many years. Tom said the sessions gave him “something to look forward to”. A new member, Danny, decided to join the sessions after his mother died and he felt lonely and unmotivated. Although it was only his first day at the centre, Danny said he could “see the benefits immediately”.

Judith is one of a team of volunteers who run the weekly IT sessions. She has been coming to the centre for three years, after her sister suggested she should drop in to see if there was anything she could help out with. Judith explains: “I needed a push, as I wouldn’t have just gone in for a chat. I like to feel that I’m being useful.” At the time Judith was dealing with ill health and depression, and felt cut off from her community. Since joining the scheme she’s never looked back.

Judith explains: “Joining Abbey Community Centre was a turning point for me. It’s not just a place to learn new skills but a place to socialise and meet new friends. So many over 50’s lack confidence in their digital skills and feel increasingly left behind in a world where more and more tasks are moving online”. The IT sessions cater for all abilities and Judith thinks members get so much out of them because they learn from each other.

Around 500 older people regularly use the Abbey Community Centre, which just goes to show the difference a scheme like CTC can make to older people.

The Community Time Camden (CTC) scheme was established with funding from our Silver Dreams programme and was continued through a variety of funding from the Department of Health, the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, and the Camden People’s Fund.  CTC have since received further funding of £369,169 from our Reaching Communities programme. 

If you would like to find out more, visit

A lady who learnt

12 August 2015

Guest blog by Florelle Bohi, who spent six days with us in our London office this summer.

Countless lectures, essays, and a dissertation later, I had finally done it. My years in education were finished, well at least for now, Uni was over!  I now had a BA Sociology Degree from Goldsmiths University to add to my qualifications.

Florelle Bohi

Graduation day

My next challenge began soon after; it was time to get a graduate job. I would wake up and religiously apply for numerous positions day in, day out, yet five months after searching and sitting in the job centre, I felt so disappointed with the way things were going. Had I done the right thing, being educated all the way through to degree level? I had work and voluntary experience but I was still was not getting a break.

Then I came across Ladies Who L-EARN, a Charity which offers a creative development programme for unemployed young women like me. Despite my pessimistic mindset, Asma Shah, the Founding CEO explained the programme but what completely sold me, was her emphasis on their networks and connections to help young ladies progress within the World of Work.

Over 3 months of weekly workshops, we visited cultural and corporate venues for sessions led by professionals from a range of industries. One workshop on innovation taught me to be more courageous when it comes to investing in myself and adapting to changes. Another way Ladies Who L-EARN helped me develop was through the work placement phase of the programme.

Asma secured a 6 day work placement with the Big Lottery Fund, which gave me the opportunity to see inside a large corporate organisation. Welcomed by friendly staff, I worked with the Campaigns Team, carrying out some social media research, which was actually cool for me because I am always on my social media apps. I also spent some time in the Digital Team receiving CMS training, basically learning about the backend of a website, how content is laid out and uploaded to the Big Lottery Fund website.

I attended a decision planning meeting, and was really impressed by all that is considered before finalising how money is distributed among applicants. Also working with a corporate assistant, gave me an idea of coordinating a busy CEO’s itinerary. Big Lottery Fund has an amazing working environment (with graduate to experienced employees) and I have gained and will take with me real life insight of the practical skills needed in an office setting.

Ladies Who L-EARN received Awards for All funding from the Big Lottery Fund in 2012, and have gone on to secure funding from other sources and further develop their amazing programmes. Some Big Lottery Fund staff will be attending the Ladies Who L-EARN graduation this year, and will be looking to write a blog about the night.

300 Voices improving experiences for African and Caribbean men

11 August 2015

Research consistently shows that young African and Caribbean men are more likely to face negative experiences when using mental health services. Time to Change’s 300 Voices project has brought these men together with mental health services and the police to improve the experience for young African and Caribbean men using mental health services and empower them to speak out and help change things for the better.

Steve Gilbert shares his experiences and explains why he got involved with 300 Voices.


I have experienced mental health problems on and off since my late teens and was diagnosed with depression in 2008.  After repeated episodes of depression and a serious manic episode, I was sectioned and subsequently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. So why is this important? It’s because I now have a deep understanding of mental health that can only be obtained through personal experience.

Steve Gilbert uses his experience to improve the experiences of young African and Caribbean men using mental health services

Steve Gilbert uses his experience to improve the experiences of young African and Caribbean men using mental health services

I’m involved in a Time to Change project called 300 Voices, which aims to improve the experience that young African and Caribbean men have when accessing mental health services. When it comes to providing improvements to care and services in mental health it is essential that someone with their own experience is involved. Enter the Lived Experience Consultant (LEC). We have been selected not only for our direct experience of mental health and for coming from an African or Caribbean background, but because we have the skills and knowledge to be able to add value to the project.

There is a common misconception that people who have experienced mental health problems are weak-minded and unable to cope with the pressures of a demanding role. We are demonstrating the exact opposite. Our role has included developing an understanding of the theoretical models we are using, contributing to the design of the programme for the pilot sessions, delivering presentations and jointly running pilot sessions. I have also gone on to co-lead the Co-Facilitator training sessions and to lead Engagement Workshops.

As a result, a practical toolkit is now available that allows teams from mental health services to discover what gives people hope within mental health settings, building on their past successes, to create the most effective and positive experiences in the future. Teams work together to create a shared understanding of what helps to support young African and Caribbean men in leading active fulfilled lives and then decide how to take this forward, agreeing the next steps for action.  The toolkit supports discussion workshops which will involve participants working through a set of carefully crafted questions and tasks. The result is a vision and plan of action for what both teams and individuals can do to improve their relationships with young African and Caribbean men.

I think that our contribution to 300 Voices as LECs gives it integrity because it has been designed through the eyes of people who truly understand the reality of life with a mental health problem. I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to use my lived experience and interactions with statutory staff in a positive way, to produce something which will help improve outcomes and experiences for other young African and Caribbean men.


Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. It is lead by leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and the Department of Health.
Find out more about their work:

Some words of knowledge

7 August 2015

The people behind the Big Lottery Fund’s research

All week we’ve been looking at different sections of our Ageing in the UK report, the different older people we’ve helped through the various projects we’ve funded and what this means for the future of support to combat isolation.

We finish with a chat with Pete Bailey, Head of Knowledge at the Big Lottery Fund. Pete tells us more about the work behind the report, what our series of Foresight reports are about and what we’re doing with the findings.

Never too old!

6 August 2015

Our ‘Ageing in the UK’ report identifies many areas of interest for all of us in the UK. The digital inclusion summary included the following: “Only a small proportion of those over 65 are what Age Concern call ‘refuseniks’, those who want nothing to do with these digital technologies.” Instead, reasons for lack of social media participation revolve around lack of understanding and fear of the unknown.

Betty Holden

Betty Holden discovered the joys of the Internet and now helps others do so too

Betty Holden, 83, a digital inclusion success story tells us how she progressed to supporting other people looking to get digitally engaged.

“When I started to have problems with mobility, my children bought a laptop for me so I could keep connected with the outside world.

“Initially I was daunted as I simply didn’t know what to do. My son said to have a go and reassured me that I couldn’t break it. But then one window opened up on top of another on the computer screen. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

The ‘Ageing in the UK’ report echoes what Betty was feeling, saying that the main barrier to digital inclusion amongst people in later life appears to be:

  • a lack of understanding and confidence with ‘how it works’
  • fear and anxiety of ‘doing something wrong’
  • concern about security online.

Betty found out about a Rochdale-based project run by Pride Media Association (recipients of more than £204,000 Reaching Communities funding from the Big Lottery Fund). Their ‘Never Too Old to do I.T.’ initiative offers support to people over 50 who want to learn basic skills for computers and the Internet. Betty wasted no time and enrolled on a course. From there she hasn’t looked back.

“I started with a foundation course which was ideal for me as a first-time user. I learnt to master the mouse and keyboard before being taught how to send emails and visit different web pages.

“I thought it would be scary to learn IT skills but because there were people of a similar age, I didn’t feel intimidated. Learning came much easier to me.

“I love helping people out as they’re in the same position I was in when I first came here. It makes me happy to see how they can develop and learn.”

Project development officer Jonathan Burns said, ““Betty is one of our longest-serving mentors.

She’s helping more and more people over the age of 50 overcome their IT fears and take advantage of what technology has to offer them. She really is an inspiration.”

Betty helping at a PC keyboard

Betty as a volunteer mentor, helping others to get online

Betty’s story is a great example of how funded projects can foster digital (and wider social) inclusion. Our ‘Ageing in the UK’ report summarised that people in later life have more or less the same access to digital as everyone else, but just use it differently; and that they see social media as the least important. It could be suggested that the social media tool developers themselves may need to develop a platform that is more later life user-friendly?

It cannot be assumed that people are not interested in the new or the different just because of their age, we need to take more time to find out why. There can be many practical or psychological barriers to interacting with new technologies, which we experienced users (and developers?) take for granted.

After going through the report I feel that in a world of numerous and varied digital platforms, we all need to remember that to even start reaching out to the digitally excluded that we might need to have an outreach plan that is mainly using telephones, Terrestrial TV, email and… word of mouth!

What first got you interested in the digital world? For me, giving away my age – it was getting a ZX Spectrum in the 80s… although some would argue that was pre-digital.

I’d love to hear your views in the Comments section below…. or just tell me what got you interested in the digital world.

Baba A.
Big Lottery Fund


Growing with age

5 August 2015

To coincide with the publication of our new report – ‘Ageing in the UK’ – we take a look at our Silver Dreams Fund which supported vulnerable older people.

Silver Dreams brandingThis September will mark four years since the Big Lottery Fund launched Silver Dreams – a £10 million programme which funded projects that focused on supporting older people. A total of 37 projects were funded across England, all of which targeted older people experiencing specific issues such as dementia, bereavement and loneliness. Four years on, we share some of what we’ve learnt.
Social interaction is often something that is taken for granted but for many older people who are experiencing isolation or loneliness, something as simple as a phone call can be a lifeline. Age UK  says that one in 10 older people are always or often lonely, while almost half (49%) of older people say that television or pets are their main form of company. Being isolated and lonely can lead to serious physical health implications, including increased blood pressure, elevated stress levels, feelings of depression and anxiety and an increased risk of dying prematurely. It can also double the risk of developing dementia.

The Abbey Community centre

It can be hard for projects and organisations to reach and engage with people that are isolated, and it can be difficult for them to transition into a new way of life. We found that involving and encouraging older people to participate in the delivery of Silver Dreams was an effective way of establishing and maintaining engagement. The Abbey Community Centre, based in North-west London, helps older people who are at risk of isolation by providing a skills exchange and encouraging them to volunteer and run activities. Participants share their skills and talents in return for ‘TIME credits’, which can be spent taking part in another activity or learning a new skill at the centre. This approach breaks down any financial barriers and lets participants meet new people and make friends while learning something new.


Five people with hens on their laps

The power of the hens :)

We also found that involving participants in the planning of the project can translate into long term success. HenPower was established by some particularly active residents in sheltered accommodation in Gateshead, who now act as ambassadors for the project.  The project helps and enables older people to build relationships through hen keeping and leads to changes in the culture of care settings. Through offering participants a range of eggciting hen-related activities – including digital photography, life (hen) painting, and carpentry and decorating hen houses amongst others -the project has had a significant impact on improving the lives of older people who may be suffering from depression, stress, loneliness and dementia. HenPower is off to a flying start and is now running in residential-accommodation all over England, with over 20 in the North-East where the project is already very well established.

We are pleased to be able to say that Silver Dreams has reached over 11,350 older people and more than 101,126 hours of support have been provided over the last four years, but there is still a long way to go. We continue to fund great projects that support older people through our open funding programmes, enabling people to make a difference in their own community.

Find out more about Silver Dreams in the full evaluation, available here.


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