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How to pull off a Big Lunch in just 7 hours!

2 June 2015

The Big Lunch takes place this Sunday (7 June). If you haven’t planned yours yet, don’t panic because it really is possible to plan one in just 7 hours. Don’t believe us? Then read on…

how-to-pull-off-a-BL-in-7hrs7 hours to go

Don’t worry about closing off your road, instead host your Big Lunch in your back garden, park or a neighbour’s garden.

6 hours to go

Speak to your neighbours as soon as possible and see what they think of the idea. Are they enthused by the thought and would they be available to attend? If they are happy to come, ask for their names and jot down their house or flat number so you have an idea of how many people are coming.

5 hours to go

If your neighbours are onboard, start to ask them what they might be able to bring along to the event. Can they lend some furniture for people to sit on? Do they have a fun game? – get neighbours to write down what they will bring so you can send a reminder note through doors to ask people to bring along what they’ve promised to.

4 hours to go

A Big Lunch needs food! Firstly, find a table – you can use one from your house or a neighbours and join them together to make a long one for everyone to sit round. Get creative, ironing boards make great impromptu side/serving tables!How-to-pull-off-a-BL-in-7hrs-2

Secondly, the grub! At this stage, it doesn’t matter too much if you have more of one thing than the other, just ask everyone who is attending if they could give a rough idea of what sort of thing they are bringing; a main, a salad, a dessert, or drinks. It will give you an idea of what to expect on the table!

3 hours to go

Spruce up the venue a little! Do you have any flowers in your garden you could pick? Add them to a glass and place on the table as a summery centre piece. Or how about a colourful table cloth you have lying around? That would work wonderfully to add that street party feel.

2 hours to go

Cut out square pieces of paper and write an attendee’s name on to each one. Add a little sellotape (double-sided) to each piece of paper and hand out to guests as they come along. This way it will be easy to know everyone’s name and mingle!

1 hour to go

Put a sign at the entrance of your Big Lunch venue so everyone knows where your event is being hosted. Remember to add a  little note saying ‘Welcome residents of _____Road!’ so everyone feels a little loved! Lastly, put on your most summery frock or shirt and get ready to enjoy a day with your neighbours!

Find lots more ideas to make your Big Lunch go with a bang by visiting the Big Lunch website.

One trailblazer, three projects…and a great journey

27 May 2015

Jan Tchamani is no stranger to the Big Lottery Fund. Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and unable to work, her involvement with three of our funded projects has not only changed her life but given her the chance to help others. Here Jan tells us what it means to make a difference in her local community.

Jan shows a man the calendar

Promoting the Birmingham Women’s Calendar

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with rapid cycling, and my self-management strategies keep me at home much of the time, so being able to be the ‘back office’ is really good for me.

The first project was called the ‘Birmingham Women’s Calendar’ when I started up The Red Tent (Heart of England) – a social network for Birmingham women, at a time when I myself was much in need of friendships. We produced a beautiful calendar, using photographic equipment bought with our funding, including four pages of contact information for useful organisations supporting women, and photographs of ‘nature in the city’ which took us out taking pictures in a group, and deepened the friendships we were forming.

Promoting the Birmingham Women’s Calendar

The second project as the Grove Road Inclusion Project, on the sheltered housing scheme I was fortunate enough to move to, when I lost my teaching career and my flat. There I met the man who is now my husband, who was trying to generate community spirit by means of ‘meaningful, therapeutic, social activity’. Our funding from the Big Lottery Fund gave us trips to green spaces, all kinds of activity days with photography, gardening, arts and crafts, baking, tai chi, a wellbeing group called Positive Minds, and an IT Club. The residents now have their own WiFi and three laptops in their common-room!

Baking bread with Tom Baker

Tom Baker and three other men baking bread in a kitchen

Baking bread with Tom Baker

The third project, the Silver Mouse Project, is ongoing. The IT Club resulted in my becoming an Age UK Digital Champion in 2013, and digital inclusion – and exclusion – are something I’m passionate about. I’ve seen the effects of both inclusion and exclusion, and the second project made me realise what a huge gap exists between people who have access to something incredibly useful, something that makes them happy, and people who don’t – especially for older people. The housing scheme I live on is for over-50s, and there are 67 flats here, nearly all with single people living alone. The Silver Mouse provides IT sessions for older people at three venues in our city, and we may find ourselves with two more soon. The response has been overwhelming – partly, I believe due to organisations like the Big Lottery Fund and Age UK publicizing the value of being online.

Age UK digital champions!

What a journey I’ve had with the Big Lottery Fund! The Red Tent still meets, the effects of the inclusion project on the lives of over-50s involved has been astounding. I can’t wait to see how lives will be changed for the better by the current project!

Age UK digital champions

Age UK digital champions!

Jan got to tell her story after reading our Share your story blog.

Can you apply for funding? Not sure? Find out using the Big Lottery Fund #FundingFinder

Share Something Brilliant

26 May 2015

Today marks the start of Do Something Brilliant Week. In this blog, Alexander Kann, Director of Community Channel and Audiences, explains more about the campaign and how you can get involved.

Do Something Brilliant is Community Channel’s flagship campaign, funded by BigBrilliant-Logo-NHT Lottery Fund, that encourages people to do the small but important things that make a big difference to their communities.

Do Something Brilliant reached over 25 million people through its launch campaign and has inspired people to do thousands of brilliant things. It has supported 2,000 charities and community groups to raise their profile, reach new audiences and inspire positive social action.

This year the theme of Do Something Brilliant Week is ‘sharing’, which could be anything from taking part in local groups to sharing innovative things to do on social media.

Media partners supporting the Week are drawn from Media Trust’s 30 corporate members including leading broadcasters, newspaper groups, digital publishers, social media platforms and advertisers. The campaign will feature a new TV promo, which will be broadcast by several channels and published online along with print adverts, press and social media.

Alongside this is a week of original programming, including the five-part series This Is Brilliant, showcasing the best stories from over 40 episodes of the Community Channel’s Brilliant TV series. Over 11.5 million people watched the Channel in the last year and we know this inspired 40% of our viewers do more in their community.

We are also running the Share #SomethingBrilliant competition for people to nominate someone who inspires them and helps their community. The winner and their nominator will each win an iPad and the winner will be filmed to tell their story in a My Brilliant Moment on Community Channel. If you’d like to nominate someone, all entries need to be submitted on by 5 June.

All around us there are stories waiting to be told and shared – stories celebrating the people doing things for their neighbours or community but are never recognised. This campaign engages people to do something for the good of themselves and their communities, and share it to celebrate what makes the UK brilliant for us all.

We hope Do Something Brilliant Week will be a great way to kick off a summer of exciting things you can do in your community.

Help us improve our awareness of dementia

21 May 2015

In this blog, Beth Bell of the Big Lottery Fund explains why we need your help to improve our awareness of this disease.  This blog was first posted during Dementia Awareness Week.

Caring-for-Carers006We know lots of community and voluntary organisations across the UK are doing great work to support people living with dementia. Since 2006 the Fund has supported large and small projects across the UK that aim to improve the lives of people with dementia, their carers, family and friends.

For example, we have supported the Alzheimer’s Society’s work with people with dementia and their carers through setting up dementia cafes across Northern Ireland. In Wales, we funded ACE Cardiff to improving communication between people with dementia and their carers by training them in sign language. The Life Changes Trust will benefit people with dementia and their carers in Scotland and in England, we are supporting Memory Joggers in Great Yarmouth to train care staff to run reminiscence workshops for people with dementia.

We are keen to champion and learn from all of this work. We would love to hear from you about the best ways to support people living with dementia and how we can support projects working in this area. The expertise you can share with us will help us make well informed decisions about funding dementia related projects. This leads me to ask the following questions:

  1. Can you share some examples of great work being done to support people living with dementia, by projects large or small?
  2. Which models or types of projects respond best to local and regional differences across the UK?
  3. How can we successfully involve people affected by dementia so their experiences and expertise shape projects and services?
  4. What data is there that would help us understand what works, and what doesn’t?
  5. If you could do one thing to make a real difference for people living with dementia, what would it be?
  6. If you had £10k, £100k or £1m to help bring about change for people living with dementia, 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. To share your thoughts, please respond to our survey or visit our Later Life group and join in on the discussion forum, by Monday 3rd August.

If you prefer, you can also email us at  We’d love to be able to publish some of your email responses later so that we can share what we have learnt from you. Please add ‘permission to share’ to your email if you are happy for us to do so.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Helping Wigan’s young people fix their futures

5 May 2015

We hear from Ian Tomlinson of Wigan-based charity, Fix-It, which supports young people to gain skills, confidence and work experience to build brighter and more successful futures…

Fix-It is a Wigan based charity primarily aimed at supporting young people aged 14 – 25. Since 2004 the charity has been providing young people with training, personal development and motor industry recognised qualifications, helping them to gain the confidence to approach potential employers or go further in education.

Fix-It-UK-Ltd-1We work with over 130 young people every year and each one faces a range of different barriers such as learning difficulties or a lack of positive role models. We also work with young ex offenders, young people involved in anti-social behaviour, those not in education, employment or training, looked after young people and those who have been permanently excluded from school.

We make Fix-It look and feel like a place of work, all the young people have jobs to do each day and work in small groups with their trainer. As we get to know the young people we understand what is stopping them from having a happy, prosperous future. We un-pick the problems and help them to overcome the things that have stopped them progressing. At Fix-It they find something they are good at and are able to learn and achieve. They make new friends and we support them to make choices about their life.

Last year we secured Awards for All funding to run a welding and fabrication course, which was received very positively by the staff and students. The funding allowed us to trial the project in our Community Garage where we service private cars and vans to raise extra income. The students used their new welding skills to offer alloy wheel and welding repairs on cars and vans, giving them the opportunity to interact with real customers. The charity is now applying to Reaching Communities so we can continue to grow and up-scale the project.

We recently attended a Big Lottery Fund media training course in Manchester where we met other grant recipients and received training on how to effectively use digital and social media to tell our story. We met lots of different projects, all at different stages of their journey. Fix-it is now working with one of them, Sam Smith from Support the Youth in Blackpool. He is a passionate advocate for young people and his enthusiasm is infectious. Sam has already visited our project and we are going up to Blackpool to visit his and see how we can work together to make the North West a better place for young people struggling to find their way.

Have you read Sam’s story?

Have you been involved with a Big Lottery Fund project? …we can share your story!

Good luck!

Understanding domestic abuse… can you help?

5 May 2015

In this blog knowledge manager Sarah Cheshire invites you to help us better understand how to support those affected by domestic abuse across the UK.

Addressing domestic abuse is an area that the Big Lottery Fund has supported through a number of our funding programmes. These range from our open funding programmes such as Reaching Communities in England, which helps people and communities most in need, to specific, targeted funding like Becoming a Survivor in Scotland, which directly supports people affected by domestic abuse and survivors of domestic abuse to move on with their lives.

We want to:Woman looking into horizon

  • explore the difference our funding has made
  • learn from the projects we have funded and;
  • understand what works in supporting those affected by domestic abuse and how it can be prevented.

We have asked researchers at Cordis Bright to help us do this.

We would like to hear from you if you are working in this or any related field and feel you have something to contribute to this research.

There are three questions that we would like you to answer:

  1. Please tell us about your project if it touches the lives of people involved in domestic abuse and you have received a grant from us.
  1. We are interested to understand the range of measures that different projects may be taking. Please tell us if you are using a particular outcome framework or measure to show the impact of your work in relation to domestic abuse.
  1. In your experience what are the most important factors in successfully supporting those who are affected by domestic abuse.

You can answer these questions by completing this quick survey or by emailing

Thank you in advance for your help with our research.

If you would like to find out more about our research visit

Share your story

28 April 2015

In this blog we look at the power of storytelling and how you can try it for yourself…

Everyone has a story to tell, and as a not-for-profit organisation, your stories, and those of the people and communities you work with, are your biggest asset. How better to show the impact of your work?Kumasi-project011

A blog is a great way to do this and doesn’t have to take up much in the way of time or resources. When writing a blog, don’t think too much about producing a perfect piece of writing. Blogs are known for their casual style, and should read more like a diary than a case study or a report.

A blog is a conversation so try to write as you would speak, or imagine you were telling a story to a friend in the pub. Avoid jargon and clichés and use Plain English. Great stories, human interest, a clearly expressed point-of-view and (if it’s appropriate) humour will all make your blog stand out.

A good blog will also have a convenient hook, such as an item of local or national news or an event or a key milestone in the life of your project. It will also have an angle, which is your personal take on the story, your point-of-view or a particular way of expressing an idea. The idea is the general subject of the blog, but it’s the angle that puts the idea into focus.

Length wise, your blog could be as short as a single paragraph but generally blog posts should be no more than 350-400 words in length. Any longer than this and people tend to stop reading. Just as important as the words are images, so make sure your blog features at least one good quality photo.

There are many different ways to publish your blog, for example by submitting it to us for publication on our Big Blog. Or you might want to publish it on your website, or start your own blog using one of the free tools like WordPress or Tumbler.

However you decide to do it, once it’s published it can then be shared on social media to really get the conversation going.

If you would like to get in touch about blogging for us, please contact us at

Check out our other blogs:

A garden to remember a little flower

21 April 2015

There can be nothing more painful than losing a child, but Kerry and Ivan Mornington were determined to channel their grief into creating a lasting memorial to their daughter Violet, and helping other bereaved parents in the process. This is their story…

We were just a normal family; life was busy, but good. My husband Ivan and I had teenage twins, Molly and Caitlin, and Violet who was coming up to her 5th birthday. She was the baby of the family and the centre of everything.


But just seven weeks after her 5th birthday my beautiful, funny, clever and strong-willed little girl took her last breath in our arms. We spent four weeks in hospital while they tried to find out what was wrong with her. Just one week before she died, they told us Violet had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and HLH (Hemophagocytic Lymphohystiocytosis). I remember us all holding hands vowing to fight this together but a week later we were given the devastating news that Violet wasn’t going to recover. We had to make the heart-breaking decision to turn off the machines that were keeping her alive, and let her go.

No-one can imagine the pain losing a child brings. It was like the light had gone out of our lives forever and I had no idea how I was going to get through the next hour, let alone the rest of my life without her. I felt isolated and alone; Ivan and I lost each other for a while because we were grieving so differently.

A few months later we found some strength to start thinking about a memorial for Violet. We wanted to find a garden that was dedicated to children who have passed away and thought other bereaved parents must feel the same. I remember saying to Ivan: “It looks like we’ll have to build one ourselves doesn’t it?”, and that’s when the idea was born. We approached the manager of Lichfield and District Crematorium to see if we could build something there and were overwhelmed when he wholeheartedly supported the idea.


Violet with her dad Ivan.

Now for the hard work; we had to raise the money for the garden so our charity, Violets in Bloom, was set up on 8th April 2014. Any doubts about whether the garden would be welcomed by the community were soon quashed. We put on some amazing events and introduced our very own merchandise, including a superhero doll called Ultra Vi. Ivan has written a charity song and Violet’s uncle has written a children’s book called ‘Be Brave’.

We applied to the Big Lottery Fund and were overjoyed when it was approved. We have now reached our target and are just waiting for the final garden design to arrive so we can get the work started. It’s due to open in August 2015 and I can only imagine how I’m going to feel on the day we cut the ribbon to open ‘Violet’s Garden’.

Once the garden is open we want to keep moving forward. When Violet was in hospital we were surrounded by support 24 hours a day, but when she died we were suddenly flung out into the real world and it was so frightening. We want to bridge that gap and open a centre to provide a wide range of support services to bereaved parents, children and families, with rooms for drop in sessions, counselling, alternative therapies and creative sessions to help people express their grief. It’s an ambitious project I know, but we have come so far in just 12 months and I truly believe we can do this.

To find out more about Violet’s Garden, visit


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