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Should we only fund “popular” projects?

9 December 2009

A return to Leeds today for a stakeholder breakfast in the City where I spent three great years as a student.  Those were the days when a pint of beer was 48p, the Sisters of Mercy hung around the Faversham pub and the standing orders of every Union Council meeting were suspended so that we could discuss the miners’ strike.  It goes without saying that we had plenty of good Yorkshire (and the Humber) straight talking and some interesting perspectives.

One area for lively debate was whether the Big Lottery Fund should seek out and take pride in funding needs that others, for whatever reason, shy away from.  Destitute asylum seekers were mentioned specifically today as one group who seemed to be missed time and again when funding allocations were made or good causes identified.  On other days I face people who seem only too keen to scream that the Lottery apparently funds little else.

How important do you think it is that the causes the Lottery supports should be “popular” with the lottery-playing public?  Or should we make a virtue of supporting the unpopular, if need is well evidenced and it is clear no one else will do so?  At present we do a bit of both.

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