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Lottery cash to help NI community venues save money during the recession

26 July 2011

A Northern Ireland community organisation supporting people with acquired brain injury will be able to carry out energy saving improvements to its centre thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.  

Headway Belfast is one of 24 groups across Northern Ireland that have been awarded grants totalling over £182,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Energy Efficient Venues programme. The programme offers Lottery cash to local groups to carry out improvements to their community venues so they make savings on their heating and lighting costs and cut down on their spending.

The organisation has been awarded £10,000 to carry out a range of improvements to its new resource centre on the Upper Castlereagh Road including installing double doors, and upgrading the heating controls and the lighting system, and installing wall partitions.

We are a community organisation providing support services for people with acquired brain injury (ABI), which means a person has brain damage caused by events after birth such as a road traffic accident, a stroke or a disease,” said Chief Executive Fiona McCabe.

“In Northern Ireland there are about 2000 cases of ABI every year, and we provide support for many people with the condition. Our services in the centre include art and music therapy, physiotherapy and exercise, and we also offer a range of activities for people such as trips to the cinema and shopping, as well as training for families, volunteers and employers.

“Our old building used oil heating and coupled with the expense of electricity our costs were huge. But we have moved into a new venue and these improvements will help us cut down on our bills, so we can put more money into continuing to improve the lives of the people we support.“

Focus on Family Nurturing & Development Centre, based in a community centre using former Housing Executive houses in Coleraine’s Ballysally Estate, has been awarded £4,171 to buy a range of energy efficient appliances and carry out an energy audit to find out where they can save energy and cut down their heating and electricity bills.

Project Manager Brendan Patterson said: “We provide activities and services to improve the lives of people of all ages in the local community. But our centre was converted from five houses in the estate that were built in 1975, and they have only had a bit of maintenance since then.”

It costs a lot to keep the venue warm and because we are open nearly all day, we are also using up a lot of electricity. These improvements will mean we can cut down on our bills and put the money we save back into the vital support services we offer local people.”

Frank Hewitt, the Big Lottery Fund’s NI Chair said: “Organisations can apply for two grant sizes through the Energy Efficient Venues programme. Grants of £2,000 – £10,000 and grants of £15,000 – £50,000 are available for groups to carry out improvements such as double glazing, upgrading insulation, installing a more efficient heating system.

“If the venue is already energy efficient, a grant could give organisations the opportunity to install solar panels, wind turbines, or biomass technologies such as wood pellet boilers.

“It is possible to apply for a small grant followed by a large grant, but community organisations must be aware that if they plan to do this they need to get their applications for a small grant in to the Big Lottery Fund between now and the end of August 2011.

“This will give them time to have their small grant assessed and awarded and to complete their project before they apply for a large grant.”

For a full list of the grants annouced today click here. To find about more about the Energy Efficient Venues programme call the Big Lottery Fund’s Information and Events team on 028 9055 1455.

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