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Prepared for the worst

24 June 2014

With the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, the risk of flooding is a problem faced by many communities. Charles Richards, co-founder and treasurer of the Cornwall Community Flood Forum, explains how they’ve used Lottery funding to mitigate its impact.

Team CCFF

Flooding is a problem that can have a profound and lasting impact on people, relationships, households, communities, businesses and local economies. All too often it presents a risk to life.

We applied for an Awards for All grant of £9,750 to help us provide support to communities in Cornwall at risk of flooding.

The focus of our bid was to establish a network of trained and equipped community volunteers who would be ideally placed to support both their community and the Emergency Services before, during and after an incident. The funding was used to develop a training package for volunteers, provide them with high visibility waterproof clothing and other equipment, set up two websites as well as produce a handbook providing flood guidance which we delivered to 7,600 properties at risk of flooding.

In developing and delivering the training package we were delighted to receive a huge amount of support from the Environment Agency, Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police and Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. The project grew over time and due to the level of support we received we were able to extend the training beyond Cornwall to include communities in Devon and Somerset.

Cornwall Community Flood Forum group at Lostwithiel's medieval bridge over the River Fowey

Cornwall Community Flood Forum group at Lostwithiel’s medieval bridge over the River Fowey

The impact of our Awards for All grant goes beyond just funding. Having Big Lottery support has raised the profile of our project and given it credibility. It helped us to secure additional private funding, and I am sure it played a significant part in us getting £238,000 through Defra’s Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder Fund.

In 2013 we were invited by the Cabinet Office, Defra and DCLG to present our project as a case study at their national Community Resilience and Climate Change workshops. We are now working on a Reaching Communities bid to extend what we have done and help support other areas of the country in becoming better prepared, including some of those affected by storms and widespread flooding last winter.

Our grant has been the catalyst that helped our project grow to a scale and scope we could not possibly have imagined at the start.

A Better Future for Blackpool’s Children

19 June 2014

The Blackpool Better Start Partnership, led by the NSPCC has today been awarded £45 million to help parents give their children the best start in life through our A Better Start programme.

We hear from a local dad, Dave Bannister, 47, who lives with his wife Tracy and their daughter Rebekah, 4. Dave is one of many parents who have supported the partnership in developing their proposal.

blog-abs-190614

Dave Bannister and his daughter Rebekah.

Dave moved to Blackpool from London in 2006 to work on the Blackpool transport system. When Tracy became pregnant four years ago he admits that he struggled to feel connected to the unborn child. But the moment Rebekah was born his feelings changed “I cut the umbilical cord and my heart leapt for joy and that initial happiness and joy is still there four years later”

Dave’s wife Tracy has been engaged with the mental health services in Blackpool since they moved to the area so he is glad of the easy accessibility of a wide range of services that the Children’s centre offers. Not just for the children but for the whole family.

Since getting involved Dave and has made new friends and Rebekah gets to spend time with other children and joins in a lot of the services they offer such as arts and crafts which Dave thinks can be crucial for developing social skills. He has also learnt a lot about good nutrition and the importance of communications skills in building the foundations for future development and health.

Dave has been involved in the bid from the start and says that “We wanted to engage all of the community and that includes fathers as well, often a lot of the services are geared towards women and I know from personal experience that the services could be more inclusive”

Dave said that there is a community spirit in Blackpool and there are people with vision who are trying to engage. He believes this funding will help to leave a legacy for future generations.

“It is important that parents are involved in this as they understand and genuinely want to build a better future for their children. A parent that is local and honest talking means they are more likely to engage and it really gives the community a voice”

 

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A Better Start

17 June 2014

We have announced an investment of £215 million into five areas to give tens of thousands of babies a better start in life. Three experts Naomi Eisenstadt, CB, First Director of Sure Start, George Hosking, CEO Wave Trust and Kate Billingham,Senior Advisor for the Family Nurse Partnership International (FNP), have all been invaluable to the development of our A Better Start initiative.

Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) is a health visiting programme which is internationally recognised for the high quality one to one support FNP nurses provide first time parents.

Each of the A Better Start areas will be, to varying degrees, developing the scope and reach of FNP services in their communities.  

Kate Billingham recently visited a young mum to hear about her experience of FNP.

As an ex-health visitor I have never forgotten what a privilege a home visit is.

Kate Billingham I was reminded of this recently when I visited a young mother at home to hear her experience of the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme. I watch her children play happily, keeping in touch with their mum who is intuitively attentive to the ebb and flow of her child’s needs.

She is proud of her children. “The nursery says that E. is a cheeky, happy girl, she has lots of friends, she’s always first at the table to make things and loves stories”.

And she is proud of her own life as a mum.  But the odds were stacked against her from before she was born. She had a difficult early life, seeing and feeling things that no child should have to see or feel.  She carried these troubles with her as she got older, leaving school at 13, self-harming, finding herself homeless and pregnant at 17. It has taken courage and hard work to get where she is today.

She reflects on how hard change can be. “Sometimes I shut down as it got too much. I felt like a snake with the skin being peeled off.”

She was fortunate to have been guided by the Family Nurse Partnership programme and a skilful family nurse.

It was good to be reminded of what it takes for a new parent with a troubled past to become the best mum or dad they can be. It takes trust, commitment, skill and self-awareness for the young woman making the journey to parenthood, for the family nurse walking beside her and for the organisation that provides the resource and supports the practitioner.

I suspect that the most demanding part of A Better Start will be the changes that everyone will have to make – from the baby to the boardroom –  parents, practitioners, managers, commissioners and the rest of us who are involved in this wonderful project.

Just as it did for the young mum I visited, it will take trust, commitment, skill and courage as well as time.

Vulnerable babies to have a better start in life

17 June 2014

Our England Director Dharmendra Kanani reflects how A Better Start is putting parents at the heart.

Change can take a long-time. With the awards we announce today we’re providing long-term funding, to enable communities and organisations to orientate themselves around the key relationships in the early years of life. These relationships can affect a person’s life chances for better or for worse.

This approach will enable parents, communities and services to think about how to reorder, redesign, and even re-imagine how they can collaborate, connect and cohere around the key relationships in early life and provide a better start for babies.

Dharmendra with Sonia Siddique, Ayaan, 4 and Aydin, 1 copy - sml

Dharmendra with Sonia Siddique, Ayaan, 4 and Aydin, 1 copy – sml

This is an opportunity for communities and systems to put babies and families at the heart of their work with a focus on love and engagement, diet and nutrition, and language and communication. This will test whether, on a local basis in a small number of areas in England, we can make a compelling case for prevention and imagine a different and better way to provide a better start for babies and their families.

That the funding is for 10 years is significant: it’s patient, to enable credible results; it’s durable, not subject to a cycle of political change; and it’s formative, that local places can learn, review, and revise their implementation. And it may, perhaps, provide services with an opportunity for reform based on a very different premise – that by bringing parents, communities, the voluntary sector and public systems together with the best data and evidence about what probably works best, real change can happen for families and communities.

Like any change, this needs pioneers and outliers. Funders, like the National Lottery, can occupy the space of an outlier, given its role and purpose, but on this occasion our role was to provide the space, time and money for partnerships to be creative, thoughtful and serious. In A Better Start we have hard-wired learning from previous successes and failures; we have convened and been brave, supported by an ambition of parents, communities, agencies and thinkers who feel and know this is the right thing do but never had the opportunity or capital.

The pioneers in this story of change are the parents and babies. For A Better Start to work, its ethos, sentiment and organising philosophy for system change has to be based on a belief in the potential of the formative relationship between a baby and parent.

A Better Start can save money and has already levered tens of millions locally and nationally. But its outcomes can mean a generation of people ten years from now having a very different outcome than what might be without A Better Start.

Ten years of funding

16 June 2014

Over the last two weeks, we’ve been looking back over the last ten years of Big Lottery funding and highlighting some of the fantastic things people have achieved with our money.

The Big Lottery Fund is in a privileged position. Our scale, scope and reach mean that our funding has touched every part of the UK.  Since we were set up in 2004 we have made £6.1 billion in grants – most of them small grants of under £10,000 to small local groups.

Behind these numbers are fascinating stories from some amazing projects led by inspirational people. Everyone day-11-blog-NI-dogswho’s read the blogs and case studies we’ve posted over the last two weeks will be impressed by the range of work we’re privilege to fund. Our funding has supported thousands of volunteering opportunities, helped to connect communities, transformed the places people live and play, and funded thousands of jobs.

One of the most exciting things we’ve seen over the last ten years is how small amounts of money can improve people’s lives. A typical example is an Awards for All grant of £10,000 to Assistance Dogs Northern Ireland. The dogs have been expertly trained to help people such as Patrick McDonnell (26), from Co Armagh enjoy life again. Spinal injuries left this active young man in a wheelchair two years ago. “I didn’t go out much. When I did, people tended to see the wheelchair and not me. Now, with Holly, it’s all about her and not the chair. She’s given me back independence,” he said.

a-way-out-1One of the most rewarding experiences for us has been funding the growth of organisations. A Way Out in Stockton-on-Tees was set up in June 2002 with three volunteers to offer a way out to women and children as young as 13 who were addicted to heroin or being sexually exploited. In 2004 A Way Out received a grant of £5,000 from Awards for All for premises costs. Fast forward two years and we awarded them £155,359 and in 2007 a further £297,657. A Way Out went from strength-to- strength. In 2009 it moved into new premises, and a once-derelict building was transformed into a friendly and welcoming place.

At the other end of the spectrum from Awards for All are our large scale strategic investments, such as the Silver Dreams Fund – our initiative dedicated to older people in England.

The Older People’s Advocacy Alliance UK is using its £1 million funding to roll out advocacy services across the country for older people affected by cancer. Volunteer advocates and Cancer Champions will use their own experience of the condition to provide a comprehensive advocacy service tailored to the needs of each individual. The support will include helping older people make decisions on their treatment and care by carrying out research into care options; being present during ward rounds; attending meetings with their consultants; and helping cancer patients gain confidence when talking to medical staff.

Where next?

We’re now running a conversation – Your Voice Our Vision – which will inform our approach over the next five or so years. It’s great that so many people have taken the trouble to add their voices to this conversation. There is still time for you to contribute at www.yourvoiceourvision.org.uk

Our funding has to be responsive to the opportunities in local communities, it has to support and enable people with ideas and to cherish the small and the local, as well as tackling difficult issues.

Dawn Austwick

 

 

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive, Big Lottery Fund

 

 

 

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Wave of Lottery money brings sea-change to Rathlin

13 June 2014

Support from the Big Lottery Fund has helped to spark a community revival on Rathlin, the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland. Nigel Tilson reports

It’s remote, unspoilt and has scenery to rival anywhere in the world.

spring flowers at Rathlin harbour

Spring flowers at Rathlin harbour

But there’s nothing backward-looking about the 120-strong community who call Rathlin Island home.

The island off the County Antrim coast has a community association  whose commitment and energy would put much larger organisations to shame.

Islander Michael Cecil is chairman of Rathlin Development and Community Association, which has also attracted a loyal force of more than 40 volunteers.

Back in 2008 the association received a grant of over £300,000 from Big Lottery Fund, and Michael says that helped to spark a sea-change in the island’s collective psyche.

The money paid for a full-time community development officer, David Quinney Mee, who commutes to the island from Ballycastle everyday on the ferry.

Building relationships has been a key part of David’s work and has helped the association attract support from government departments and statutory agencies.

Michael says: “The confidence of the people and the capacity to get things done have increased.

“In the past people living on Rathlin would have expected others to look after their interests, but now they want to shape their own future.”

David Quinney Mee

David Quinney Mee

As a result, several events have become regular fixtures on Rathlin’s calendar, including the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival and Halloween and New Year celebrations.

Michael explains: “The festivals attract lots of visitors and going forward we want to improve the tourism offering. We want to build on the 30,000 visitors who make the trip to Rathlin each year.”

The organisation is planning to build a wind turbine on the island which, it hopes, could generate enough profit each year to pay for its work. It is all part of the islanders’ desire to become self-sustaining.

Other projects in the pipeline include negotiating community management of the Manor House, the iconic guesthouse at Rathlin’s harbour.  The association is also aiming to transform an old Kelp Store into a marine research and education centre.

The group has also received Big Lottery-funding to encourage the creation of social enterprises and it has been receiving advice from the Scottish Islands on setting up such businesses.

Michael said that without the Big Lottery Fund money the improvements seen in recent years would not have happened.

“The attitude of the people here has changed dramatically. People on the island are now more determined to improve from within. In fact our new motto is ‘thriving from within’,” he added.

 

 

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The Birks Cinema – journey of a grantholder

13 June 2014

With a red carpet welcome and special appearance by its patron, actor Alan Cumming, the Birks Cinema officially reopened its doors on 20th November 2013. Originally a 1930s film theatre but closed for over 20 years, it was a moment the local community had dreamed of for some time.

Back in 2006 three friends set up the Friends of the Birks Cinema and began fundraising to purchase the disused building in the heart of Aberfeldy, Perthshire and refurbish it for 21st century film fans. With a donation from a private trust the group was able to engage a local architect to explore how the building could be converted which was followed in 2008 with a grant from our Investing in Ideas programme to carry out a feasibility study.

Birks Cinema Patron, Alan Cumming

Birks Cinema Patron, Alan Cumming

Then in 2011, after securing pots of money from other funders, the group found itself still requiring additional funding to make their idea a reality.

Successfully applying for and receiving £539,950 from our Growing Community Assets programme the group finally had the green light to get construction on The Birks Cinema  going. In just one year the 100 seat, state-of-the-art, 3D cinema underwent a full renovation finally opening its doors to the public in Spring 2013.  You can see how things developed in our special flickr gallery.

A community asset providing a thriving hub which all generations can enjoy, the Birks Cinema truly is the outcome of a hard working and inspirational local community. From three people in 2006 to some 450 members in 2013 the local community has been heavily involved throughout the project.

Following a seven-year journey the group members created a list of lessons learned during their community assets project. Below are just some of the key points they identified, which projects considering applying to our Growing Community Assets fund might want to consider:

  • Don’t underestimate the amount of work to be done – most people on our Committee are either fully retired or work part-time.
  • Create a team with specific responsibility for the success of the project, using a mixture of Committee members and interested volunteers.
  • Where possible search for new members with the skills that are missing from the current Committee.
  • Get the local community behind and involved in your project. Try to pull in volunteers to help have a presence at local events, shows, fairs and so forth, as the members of the committee may become over-extended doing
    The new Birks Cinema

    The new Birks Cinema

    this activity.

  • Do try to document what you do with the community e.g. numbers attending public meetings; surveys of community views; people attending focus group discussions etc. because you may need to provide evidence of community support and community views/needs for some funders.
  • Funders require reassurance that the operation resulting from their donations will be financial robust and sustainable; it may be appropriate to consider more than one income source.

You can find out more about the Birks Cinema and what it has to offer here . Equally, if you have a community asset that you would like to explore purchasing and developing, our Growing Community Assets programme may be able to help. The above lessons learned are a great starting point but if you need further support or want to run your project idea by us  you can email us for advice .

 

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Getting everyone connected

12 June 2014
Young woman helping young girl use computer

St Barts Leeds workshop

When the Big Lottery Fund was set up in 2004, Facebook was a mere twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye; the web had just 50 million websites – compared with today’s mind boggling 759 million; and, perhaps most shockingly, Britney Spears topped Google’s most popular search queries.

By 2024 the size of our online universe is projected to expand by nearly 300 per cent, fuelled by an ongoing digital explosion of human expression, opinion, content and measurable data. Advances in artificial intelligence, automated translation and real-time big data analytics, coupled with a global network of over 50 billion networked sensors embedded in smart devices, wearable technology, appliances and infrastructure (the Internet of Things) will revolutionise our online experience. New user interfaces operated by voice, retina movements or touch will transform how we work, play and communicate.

It’s clear we’ve only just begun to experience and understand the web’s game-changing potential; but it’s still all too easy to assume that everyone can already explore their own online opportunities.  Yet here in the UK, just under 1 in 5 adults (9.5 million people) still don’t have the basic online skills to be confident online.  They can’t send and receive email, use a search engine, browse, or complete forms online; let alone all the fun stuff the rest of us take for granted.

Also surprisingly, thousands of businesses and charities are missing out on crucial opportunities to save money and time, or promote themselves online.  Between 2011 and 2012 alone, we in the UK donated a whopping £2.4 billion to charity via the web and now, over a quarter of philanthropic gifts are made online.  Yet just half of charities have a website – and of those who do – only 1 in 5 allow customers to donate from their site.

That’s why Go ON UK and its fabulous network of UK wide partners are on a mission to change this.  Big Lottery Fund for example – a Go ON UK founder – recently launched a £15 million Basic Online Skills programme to help people and communities most in need.

Anyone can share their online skills with others.  Our new site, digitalskills.com, inspires and supports digital champions – everyday people who are willing and able to share their online skills.  Stuffed with over 3,000 top tools, including downloadable guides, certificates, posters and learning resources to rate and share, there’s something for anyone looking to share digital skills with someone they know, within their local community or organisation.

As we enter the next chapter of our digital journey, we want everyone to become confident online and start making the internet their own.  Together, we can help everyone in the UK get connected.

 

Emily Keef, communications manager @ Go On UK

 

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