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An early start

20 January 2009

My week started with an early morning train to the north-east and an event with stakeholders to discuss future priorities for the Big Lottery Fund in that part of England.

One theme that we have suggested characterises a lot of what the Big Lottery Fund supports and might focus on into the future is isolation. I can think of great projects I have visited where we are funding organisations to help elderly people live alone with confidence and in safety. I can think of others where we have supported facilities that act as a hub or magnet to bring individuals with very different personalities and cultural reference points out of their houses to engage in enjoyable activity together, whether that be through sport, music or local history.

Tomorrow is a big day for MIND and their Time for Change programme, which we are supporting to the tune of £16m.

Here we are seeking to combat the isolation of people with mental health difficulties, not by treating them as the problem but by addressing the discrimination they often face through the attitudes of others. There is an organising principle here and it is certainly something BIG might seek to demonstrate its funding has made a difference in tackling by the time we reach 2015.

Some people think it is a bit negative and prefer connectivity or inclusion. Others don’t really care so long as we go on doing good stuff! As a bit of a pragmatist myself I do sympathise with that point of view. However, if the Big Lottery Fund can stand for a small number of things in the eyes of the wider public and other funders, it might help ensure our investments have focus and complement well what other people might choose to get up to with their money.

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