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BIG, post general election

26 May 2010

Launch of Big Lottery Fund Village SOS programme in Honey Street, Wiltshire. Front: (L-R) Terry Kemp, Mark Cotton (head of Big Lottery Fund South West region), Aiden Johnson-Hughill, Sandra Bhathia (Village Champion), Bev McEnaney

During the general election campaign BIG, like other public bodies, had to go into “purdah”. This means that we weren’t allowed to make any public announcements in case they were viewed as influencing the outcome of the election.

Now that the election is over, and the new government is in place, we’re able once again to continue our rollout of new programmes that will support those in greatest need in our society.

Building a sustainable environment is one of the most pressing concerns of our time, and we’ve responded to this by launching our Efficient Energy Venues programme. Community venues in Northern Ireland can apply to BIG to make their venue more environmentally-friendly and energy efficient. As well as benefiting the environment, this programme will help community groups save on their heating and lighting costs.

One of our key themes over the next few years is to fund projects that will improve the well-being of people with mental ill-health.
Our Healthy Minds programme is aimed at local community groups in Northern Ireland, which can apply for up to £10,000 to improve people’s well-being and mental health, including older people who are isolated.

Also helping the over 50s who are daunted by the challenges of getting older is our AdvantAge programme, which opens in Wales on 7 June . Many older people relish the new opportunities of moving on to a new phase in their lives, but for some it can be an isolating and depressing experience. We hope that this new programme will help to enrich the lives of those who are experiencing the negative effects of getting older.

Another of our key aims is to involve members of the public in our decision-making.

We’ve had a fantastic response to The People’s Millions competition this year, with more than 800 applicants applying for up to £50,000 to improve their local areas. Now we’re looking for members of the public to help us pick the shortlist of which projects go to the public vote in November.

Finally, after months of searching high and low throughout the UK, we’ve chosen the six winners of our Village SOS competition. These villages will receive grants of up to £400,000 to set up new businesses and revive their local communities. They’ll also be appearing on a BBC TV series that will go out on primetime TV next year. We’ve also awarded grants another four villages under the Village SOS Learning campaign, which runs side by side with the main programme and will inspire other villages to set up new businesses.

And there are a lot more new programmes being announced this month, so make sure you keeping on checking the website for the latest news.

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