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Filming our projects was shed loads of fun

1 July 2013


Big Lottery Fund staff took to the road earlier this year to meet some inspiring projects doing great work in their communities. Armed with camera equipment and words of encouragement, they put beneficiaries in the spotlight for a film promoting the achievements of organisations we fund.

Today we’re pleased to launch our new film featuring these projects. In this blog, Betty-Sue Smith tells us what she took away from an afternoon filming London-based Men in Sheds. Recently nominated for a National Lottery award, they are giving older men the confidence to learn new skills and meet new people.

One of the questions we get asked most often at the Big Lottery Fund, apart from ‘What are the Lottery numbers this Saturday?’ is ’What do you fund?” This can be a really difficult question to answer quickly, because we fund so many different projects across the UK, via so many different funding programmes.

So where do you start? Earlier this year, because we wanted to give an overview of the work of the Big Lottery Fund and the type of projects we support, we decided to make a short film.

Betty Smith

Big Lottery Fund’s Betty Smith

The first day of filming took place in London one sunny Thursday afternoon in May, so I decided to tag along to keep an eye on proceedings and to meet the lovely projects who had agreed to be involved.

Men in Sheds is an Age UK project that brings together older men in a place where they are comfortable. They meet in sheds to make things, share ideas or just put the world to rights over a cup of tea.

The project I visited is based in the home of Age UK Bromley and Greenwich, a  fantastic former day centre in Eltham, with one of the largest rooms having been converted to an amazing workshop for the Men in Sheds.

When I arrived, the film crew were already setting up and enjoying a joke with the men. I was met by Men in Sheds project co-ordinator Pauline, who gave me a tour of their base and introduced me to the men who use the service.  I was worried about how they would feel about being filmed, but they were naturals in front of the camera. I’m sure some must have had big screen experience!

The men took it in turns to read some lines to camera, only taking a break to tuck into bacon butties and tea that the crew had brought in for them.

Men doing woodwork

The Men in Sheds project encourages older men to get creative

After the shoot the men invited us to visit a bridge they had built in a local park. En route I got chatting to one of the men. Ray was a locksmith in Bromley all his life until a couple of years ago when he had a stroke which meant he had to retire.

He found himself a bit lonely and with not a lot to do, until a friend introduced him to the Men in Sheds. He now goes to the shed a couple of times a week. Not only has the project meant Ray gets to keep active and use his skills, he has made many friends who he now joins for lunch during the week.

After a walk around to the park to check out their handiwork we headed back to the workshop to pack up and head to the next project. It was here that I left the film crew, confident they were doing a great job of trying to capture our message and really tell the story of the projects we fund. The crew then headed off on a tour of filming in all four corners of the UK.

The final film is at the top of this blog for you to see. I am sure you will agree that the projects are the real stars.

Betty-Sue Smith is Marketing Officer at the Big Lottery Fund

What do you think of our new film and Betty’s guest blog? Leave your comments below or join the conversation on Twitter using #aboutbiglf.

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