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Celebrating LGBT History Month at the Big Lottery Fund

20 February 2017

February in the UK marks LGBT History Month, an annual event which shines a light on the often-overlooked histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people.

At the Big Lottery Fund, we’re taking this opportunity to celebrate the wide range of LGBT projects we support across the country, from small community groups to large scale initiatives that support LGBT people young and old to overcome barriers, and live fulfilling and creative lives. Check out our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for photos, stories and top application tips from projects across the country.


Conference at The Proud Trust

For this blog, we spoke to two organisations who have been funded through our Reaching Communities programme, LGBT Foundation and The Proud Trust, about the top tips and advice they have for other LGBT organisations looking to apply. In the words of The Proud Trust – “Don’t be afraid to talk about sexuality and gender on your application, the Big Lottery Fund have a positive attitude to LGBT needs and inclusion!”

Involve the community

LGBT Foundation, who received £299,742 for their Well Women project to improve the health and wellbeing of lesbian and bisexual women, emphasise the need to involve the community: “Speak to the people you want to support – they might be able to offer some great insight or ideas which would improve your project. You could set up a stakeholder group, hold a focus group, do some twitter engagement or do a short survey – it could make or break your project, so invest as much time as possible into ensuring your project reflects the needs of the people you want to support.”

Provide evidence

The Proud Trust, who received £473,123 for their project supporting LGBT youth to overcome the barriers posed by homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, highlight the importance of evidencing your


Drama Week at The Proud Trust

application: “Look online for evidence to show the need for your work. Lots of Universities, local authorities and voluntary sector groups have done research about LGBT people, which can help highlight the needs of your group, e.g. Queer Futures (Dept of Health), Youth Chances (Metro), How You Can Help Us (The Proud Trust).”

LGBT Foundation gave similar advice: “Evidencing your project need is key, however when it comes to robust research about the needs of LGBT people in particular, it can sometimes be very difficult to get your hands on up to date or large scale data. However, LGBT Foundation have handily pulled together a lot of research and statistics in the Evidence Exchange which holds thousands of statistics about LGBT communities.”

Explain your terminology!

The Proud Trust advise applicants to “put things in plain English to help the person reading your application understand – don’t assume the person reading the application knows what ‘non-binary’ or ‘trans-masculine’ means, and always explain acronyms the first time you use them, especially long ones like LGBTQUIA!”

What about smaller grants?

“If you want to put on something like a training course or an event, you can apply to Awards for All for the money, even if you are a small group. You don’t even have to be a registered charity.” say On Road Media, who were awarded £10,000 for their trans awareness project, All About Trans.

If you have a small scale project to fund, you can apply to our Awards for All programme, which awards small grants of up to £10,000 to voluntary and community groups. Many LGBT organisations sent in their top tips for applying to Awards for All – find more on our Instagram account.

Creating a ‘World of Wonder’ for children and families

20 November 2016

To celebrate Universal Children’s Day, we hear from Hull Community Church on how they worked closely with local children to create a space where they could feel safe and be themselves.

Hull Community Church has always had a strong ethos of helping the local community and providing activities and support for families in need. But when part of their building, previously rented to a separate charity, became available, an opportunity arose to create a unique play space for local children and to put them in the driving seat.

Hull CC’s project lead (and minister) Anne Dannerolle and her small team didn’t just consult local children, they helped make their ideas a reality. Around 60 children and young people had their input. One young girl, who came to the project from a troubled family background, was particularly influential, and made it clear that the new space should be somewhere safe and welcoming children could go to when being at home was too difficult.

The Bounce Room

Children enjoying the Bounce Room

In 2015, Hull CC was awarded a Reaching Communities grant of £476,247, with just under £100,000 to be spent on creating the World of Wonder (WOW). The children had ambitious plans for the new space, including a Hobbit Hole, a treehouse slide and a ‘bounce room’. Delivering their vision and giving them ownership was important to Anne and she fought hard to retain their ideas, even when architects and builders said things couldn’t be done. When the project looked as though it was going to be too expensive, Anne and her team got creative, sourcing specialist items cheaply online. Trips to a reclamation yard also resulted in beautiful old timber for the Hobbit Hole.

The community got stuck in as well. People of all ages pitched in with painting, plastering and creating unique decoration for the different areas of the WOW. A local art student created a huge mural of a tree to complement the treehouse slide.

Since the WOW opened, kids of all ages have been throwing themselves around in the bounce room, which with its twinkling-star lighting is also a great place for disabled children and those with special educational needs. The Hobbit Hole is a popular hangout for teenage visitors, and as for the slide… well, Big Lottery Fund staff can vouch for how much fun that is!

But the impact on individuals tell a powerful story too. One woman brought along her young son who has autism and requires significant day-to-day support. He had great fun serving the chocolate pudding at the Wednesday family tea session. His mum commented:

The Hobbit Hole

The Hobbit Hole

“Autistic children don’t like to get involved and do things with other people. Seeing him helping like this means so much to me.”

“This group provides opportunities that are incredibly valuable for a child with ASD. Support to integrate and be himself allow him to build skills and express himself by doing things he loves. Many take these opportunities for granted, but to special needs parents, they’re miracles.”

Her son is planning to have his birthday party at the WOW later this month, as it’s “the only place he feels totally comfortable and at home.”

The building work might be done, but that’s only one element of the project. Hull CC will spend the next three-and-a-half years delivering activities to help them further develop relationships with the community and continue to support people through the challenges they face.

“We’re so thankful for the World of Wonder and this amazing space,” says Anne. “But it’s only as amazing as the parents, children and young people who use it, and who have become part of our extended family.”

Mentoring girls to reach their full potential

27 October 2016

The Girls’ Network matches girls between 14 – 19 years old from the least advantaged communities with professional mentors from all walks of life.

To celebrate National Mentoring Day, they have shared Julie’s story with us.

ko0hcrzJulie* was suffering from depression and anxiety just before her GCSE exams. She was at risk of being expelled from school due to poor attendance, and had missed almost all of the deadlines for college applications, too. The school had effectively ‘given up’ on her, and her mother didn’t know what to do.

Her mentor met with her, and quickly recognized the symptoms of anxiety. Working alongside her mother, she pulled together a plan of action to help Julie get back on track.

As well as regular contact, Julie’s mentor also helped arrange counselling sessions to support with anxiety, and took Julie to a workshop run by the Maudsley Hospital for young people with anxiety.

Julie is now attending school more regularly and has made really good progress with English coursework, earning her target grade of B- in English Literature. Her mentor arranged for a tutor, who had also suffered from anxiety and depression, to work with her. Julie is now also applying for a Health & Social course at City & Islington College and is organising work experience through a family friend at a hospital in Portugal over the summer.

All of this growth has been facilitated by her mentor, with help from Julie’s mother, to support and help Julie exactly as she needs. Julie and her mentor have built a wonderful relationship, and will continue to work together this year as Julie makes the transition into college.

Julie’s mentor said: “I’ve had the most wonderful year working with Julie. She’s bright, she’s articulate, she’s creative, she’s the most emotionally intelligent 16-year-old. It is like talking to a peer.”

You can read more about The Girls’ Network here

* Julie’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

Enfield Caribbean Association celebrates Black History Month

24 October 2016

Sola Akingbola

October is Black History Month and we caught up with Enfield Caribbean Association who celebrated with the ‘Pineapple Punch Festival’, a community event part funded through the Awards for All programme, which gives out small grants between £300 and £10,000. The group received a grant for £6,175. Sarah Betton who works with Enfield Caribbean Association shares a few reflections of the experience and provides some guidance for other projects looking for funding.

Tell us a bit more about your project

The festival was part of the opening celebrations for Black History Month in the borough of Enfield. We wanted an event that focused on celebrating the positive contributions that black culture has made to the UK.

We had a number of artists who participated such as Heidi Vogel (Cinematic Orchestra), Sola Akingbola (Jamiroquai) and artist Jon Daniel, whose Afro Supa Hero art exhibition is touring with the V&A Museum. The event attracted local media and we were featured in Winchmore Hill Advertiser & Herald.

We will end Black History Month with ‘Black Firsts’, a celebration of those who were first in their field in the UK.


The reggae choir

What advice would you give other community groups seeking funding for a black history themed event, or any other event?

I would encourage them to apply. They should include evidence of public engagement and how their project can help to unite the community by being accessible to people from all backgrounds.



Jon Daniels and his Afro Supa Hero books

What was your biggest challenge in putting on the event?

We worked in collaboration with other organisations. We didn’t receive as much support with the promotion as we had anticipated, which meant that word of our event didn’t reach all of our potential audience. In retrospect we should have put a stronger service agreement in place to ensure people were clear on their responsibilities.


When you were applying for the funding, did anyone advise you on how to complete the application form?

We did not get any advice, but we made sure we did our research and included evidence where we could.

If you are interested in applying for funding you can find our more on our website.

We receive a lot of unfinished applications forms so if there is a section of the form you are unsure about we recommend contacting our Advice Team on 03454 10 20 30 who are happy to help.

The Awards for All programme is competitive and funding is limited so we’d suggest that anyone thinking about applying should contact our Advice Team before they apply. We can help them get a better understanding of the application process and likelihood of receiving funding.

Thanks to Enfield Caribbean Association for answering our questions! For more information about what they do, visit their website

Improving Futures – the journey so far

11 October 2016

Today sees the launch of a new evaluation report on Improving Futures– a £31m programme to improve outcomes for children living in families with multiple and complex needs. James Ronicle, Senior Research Manager at Ecorys UK, summarises the main findings from the report.

James Ronicle

James Ronicle

Last year Professor Kate Morris (University of Sheffield) and I traveled to Manchester to meet some of the families involved in Improving Futures.

There are 26 projects across the country, from Portsmouth up to Dundee via Cardiff and Belfast. We spoke to families who had traveled to Manchester from a range of projects. For one parent it was the first time she had been on a plane and the first time she had left her son at home, so it was quite a nerve-wracking affair!

Many of the families we met, and many more supported by the Improving Futures projects, live difficult lives. We have collected data on 4,000 of the families supported (over 7,000 have been supported in total). This shows us that:
• Around three out of five families are headed up by single parents.
• Nearly four out of five receive free school meals – often a sign that a family is struggling to make ends meet.
• Nearly two thirds of the children, all aged under 10, have behavioural difficulties.

So it didn’t come as a surprise to hear about the stress and anxiety some of the parents, and children, experience. But perhaps what is surprising is that many of the families had previously received very little support; they were families that were ‘getting by’. As one parent said to us, “We thought we were normal – it was my normal”.

And this is where the Improving Futures projects have really helped. Many have set up in universal services, such as schools, GP surgeries and children’s centres, and offer the support to these families that they have never had before. This could be parenting advice, emotional support or help in accessing other services that they need.

And our evaluation has found what a difference this has made. The number of families with children with persistent, disruptive and violent behaviour has halved, and the number of families with parenting and anxiety and frustration has fallen by a third.

One family we met described how much value she got from visiting the project and meeting other families in a similar situation to her:

“Sometimes being a parent can be very lonely. Some of these parents – the people they communicate with in the service – are probably the only people they come into contact with. And they go back to their private and lonely living, but they have actually taken away some energy with them…A happy parent makes a happy child. And you look forward to coming back.”


The Improving Futures programme has been set up to run for five years to test approaches to tackling specific issues. Therefore, as the five years are coming to an end, the projects are now making plans for their next steps. Some have already received further funding for some parts of their projects.

The big question for all early intervention projects like these is, to what extent do these changes continue once the support has ended? We have been following over 150 families for 2 years since their support began, and in March next year we can share how they have done over this time. If you’d like to come to the launch of our final report next year to hear more, email us at:

Find out more about Improving Futures.

If you’d like to know more about the Improving Futures programme you can visit the website.

A snapshot of International Day of Older Persons

7 October 2016

At the start of October, people across the world celebrated International Day of Older Persons. Over on the Big Lottery Fund Twitter account we were sharing some of the images of the huge array of activities that were taking place across England.

One group who were very active was our Ageing Better projects. Part of our strategic investments, we have invested £78 million to reduce social isolation, support a good quality of life in older age and promote the benefits of an ageing society.

Below, we go on a whistle-stop tour of England to check in with the projects to see what they got up to.

Down on the Isle of Wight, Age Friendly Island held their second annual ‘Celebrating Age Festival’. The residents spent a day rambling across the island along the River Yar, while Men in Sheds threw open their doors to visitors and Sandown Library delved in to the past with a Family History Drop-In. On Thursday, older people took part in the Celebrating Age Awards event to mark the contribution older people make to the Island.

Ageing Better Middlesborough

Ageing Better Middlesborough

Further north – 131 miles north to be precise – Bristol Ageing Better have revealed the secret to ageing well. Working with local older, the group have created ‘The Little Book of AWE – Ageing Well Everyday’ with tips and information on activities older people can do in Bristol that would boost their wellbeing.

In the capital, Ageing Better Camden are having double the celebration. International Day of Older Persons coincides with the 50th anniversary of Age UK Camden’s resource centre. Throughout October residents can visit a photo exhibition looking back over the last 50 years locally. There are also Get Active yoga and dance classes while the tech fans can try out some gadget clinics.

As part of the work in East Lindsey to combat loneliness and isolation, The T.E.D (Talk, Eat, Drink) in East Lindsey project held a ‘virtual crowd funding’ event to enable the local community to invest in the ideas they think will most benefit older people in the area.

Heading west to Sheffield, and a selfie booth with costumes and props was created by Age Better Sheffield to celebrate older people. Further west to Manchester and the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation have started to shape their work for local older people with the first meeting of their Equalities Board.

In Leeds, Time to Shine Leeds encouraged older LGBT people to come together and participate in a storytelling workshop and have a go at creative writing and storytelling. Meanwhile, following conversations with 200 older people across Leeds, Time to Shine have unveiled their Age-Friendly Charter which people and organisations across Leeds are encouraged to sign up to and take the pledge to make Leeds a better place to grow old in.

Time to Shine launch event 2016, Leeds’ Age-Friendly Charter

Time to Shine Leeds launch their Age-Friendly Charter

And further north again in Middlesbrough, Ageing Better Middlesbrough celebrated their first anniversary with afternoon tea with old acquaintances and new friends at the Dorman’s Museum.

This is just small snapshot of the great work being carried out by projects across the country. To see some more images of what our projects did during International Day of Older Persons, check out our Storify.

Working on …Go-karts, windmills and Vines, oh my!

22 September 2016

In the second of a series on our London Smart Futures’ work placements we hear from eighteen year old Sanjida Akther – the greatest go-kart builder you’ll ever meet!


Day 1: Building go-karts with 9 year olds!

Left to right Sanjida, Abi, Dave, Helen, Baba and fellow Smart Futures' student FatimaMy name’s Sanjida Akther. I am an Ernst & Young Foundation Smart Futures’ student, who was lucky enough to be working at the London offices of the Big Lottery Fund (the Fund).

It’s hard to think that I went to a project visit on the first day. Trust me, when I say it was a ‘fun’ visit I mean it. The day started off with meeting the London Play team at The Childhood Museum. And the day was not just a face-to-face meeting in formal clothing, but turned out to be a ‘get stuck in’ adventure. Where we were building go-karts with the children in Weavers Field Adventure Park. The highlight of this project visit was witnessing the creativity and smiles of the children we were working with.


Day 2: Spammer busting!

Sanjida from behind sitting at a desk working at PC

Hard at work!

A Friday, and my first full day at the Fund, I was given an assignment, where I had to create a report on spammers and research the methods on how to prevent them joining website forums.

By networking, I was able to listen in on staff’s experiences in presenting to large groups. This is the main skill I aim to improve during my experience with both Smart Futures and the Fund.


Day 3: All about comms, and a Vine?

A Tuesday, after the Summer Bank Holiday Monday, I was given presentations on what Comms (communications) and strategic funding are.

I also got to produce a report on how the Fund can use WhatsApp to communicate with their customers. I have learnt that social media is a key communication method which

Two young women holding up bunting

Bunting ready to use!

most organisations use. I have also learnt that having an online personality is key to being effective on social media. The Big Lottery Fund use an enthusiastic and informal tone, they try to use the tone and style of language of the channel or app they are using.

I had an exciting experience in creating a Vine for the ‘Celebrate’ campaign with Farzana. This included creating a fun video of a step-by step guide to creating bunting.


Day 4: Talking youth engagement

Note pad with notes on it and a pen beside it

Don’t forget to take notes!

Wednesday, during a brainstorming session on youth engagement with the Fund’s interns, we shared our own experiences of helping youth. We also discussed the changes between youth ‘back in the day’ and youth now. We talked about the barriers which stop people from participation or carrying out these actions and came up with ideas, that can help encourage and motivate young people in participating more in carrying out social action.

Later in the day I got to help with document design by selecting pictures for case studies in an annual report.


Day 5: Charities, windmills and the end of my experience… for now!

My last day, I’ve been trying to jam-pack my brain with knowledge and facts about the Fund. There’s only a little amount my brain can take until it explodes but it’s worth it. Today I had a look into the charity sector, and helped with a windmill campaign, where I helped a colleague make an Instagram story of making a spinning windmill.

I have had an amazing experience at the Big Lottery Fund, learnt and developed new skills I didn’t think I actually had in me. I have also met many people, and found out their career pathways into the Comms team. It has really widened my aspirations in working with charities and youth. It has also inspired me to look into a career into communications. All thanks to the Big Lottery Fund.


It was great having Sanjida with us this summer. Have you read the story of another of our Smart Futures’ placements Farzana Begum’s day of avoiding chickens and more.

Does your organisation offer work placements? Any stories you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Helping young people find space to create

20 September 2016

In this blog we hear from Ben Colclough, Head of Marketing & Communications for somewhereto_, which helps young people achieve their career ambitions by providing access to free spaces to develop their creative and enterprising projects.

capturesomewhereto_ has been operating with the support of Big Lottery funding for four years, and in that time has found free space for 20,000 young people and engaged with 300,000!

It has been an amazing journey, with some amazing people. Like Amir, who went on to found Your Bike CIC, a social enterprise that turns young people at risk of offending into qualified bicycle mechanics. somewhereto_ found Amir a fantastic space for 12 months when he was setting up the company. He says, ‘The space they offered us was about 1700 square feet. They gave us a an incredible opportunity’. Your Bike has now moved to a permanent space and is fixing more bicycles and training more at risk young people than ever before.

Then there’s people like James, now co-owner of Mous Case, an innovation led company that strives to take the humble phone case and make it perfect. After winning a somewhereto_ startup competition, and receiving mentoring from somewhereto_ staff, James and his colleagues have secured funding, produced their first batch of products and are being stocked in Urban Outfitters and Amazon. James told us, ‘It might seem like a fun idea at the time to use your bedroom as an office but if your business is going to be a success you are setting yourself up for problems. A better idea is to call somewhereto_!’.

somewhereto-blogWe’ve also worked with artists and creatives like Abbie, a trained dancer from Scotland. Since accessing free space Abbie has set up her own dance studio, The Grit. The Grit aims to provide young dancers with the skills and experience they need to progress into professional dance careers. Abbie says ‘Holding performances at somewhereto_ venues enabled the project to hold an intimate sharing of work, giving people a chance to grasp their ambitions’.

It’s been our privilege to work with young people on projects that have had such an impact on their lives and their communities.

For more information, visit