Skip to content

Local people have the Power to Change

6 December 2013


Today the Big Lottery Fund is delighted to announce a £150 million investment in community-led enterprises across England. Power to Change, the largest ever community enterprise fund, will provide communities feeling the impact of tough economic times with the opportunity to make real people powered change in their local areas. England Director, Dharmendra Kanani, tells us more about the investment.

Power to Change is a story of inspiration. It is a story of local people coming together to make things happen for the better.

Take Paul, a volunteer at a community-run bakery in Anfield, Liverpool. Several attempts at regenerating this area of poor housing and deprivation had failed over the years – a familiar tale in many parts of England. But instead of giving up or moving out, residents have taken it upon themselves to improve the local area, starting with the bakery.

For Paul, it’s so much more than a bakery. For someone out of work for many years, who’s felt isolated and disconnected from his local community , it’s a home from home. Somewhere where he feels the warm welcome of place he feels supported, connected and provides structure to this life. This is a story of fulfilling lives.

England Director Dharmendra Kanani

England Director Dharmendra Kanani

Then there’s Sheffield, where a group of local tenants and supporters, all volunteers, rallied together to save Portland Works, an old cutlery factory, from being developed into apartments. Over 450 people bought shares in the property to refurbish it and keep it going as a thriving hub for local manufacturers, engineers, craftsmen and artists. Without their driving force, this prized local asset could have been lost. This is a story of a successful community.

Or Hill Holt Wood, a social enterprise which runs a cafe, manufactures and sells bespoke products, provides education and training and contracts forestry and countryside services. All the while operating a beautiful woodland that is open from dawn until dusk for the enjoyment of the public. This is an enriched place.

People have been coming together to get things done and improve their local areas for generations. We have a proud and abiding tradition, especially in times of adversity to make things happen for the better. In the face of tough economic times, and the cuts to neighbourhood services, closing community venues and increasing empty shops, that tradition to take charge is thriving.

This is why the Big Lottery Fund has responded by creating ‘Power to Change’ a £150 million opportunity to support this proud tradition. This is the largest ever community enterprise fund, but we see it as so much more than money alone.

There’s a DIY community momentum at work across England, rethinking how things are done, who can do them, and what it is to be a shareholder in and of your community. Local people are championing solutions to the hardest-hitting problems of our day and age.

There are hundreds of examples nationwide of people coming together to improve their local areas. And what’s more, we are seeing more and more examples of enterprising projects which don’t just rely on charitable grants or government money, but which generate their own income and produce profits that are re-invested back into the community.

Power to Change is our commitment and contribution to back the ambition and put fire in the belly of many communities to come up with solutions that pay back dividends in terms of better opportunities, services and facilities. We want to enable everyone to have a stake in the future growth of their local area, and to take pride in restoring and revitalising community spirit.

Man in waders in water

Torrs Hydro is a micro hydroelectric scheme, owned by the community

From pop-up shops in empty high street properties, to enterprises delivering much-needed neighbourhood services, to community-managed woodlands and parks, to community-owned pubs and sports clubs, these community enterprises do not seek to make money for private gain, but for the benefit of local people.

Through Power to Change we want to help more of these amazing community enterprises to succeed. We want to support them on their own journey towards being resourceful and sustainable beyond grant funding so that they can improve the lives of even more people.

Our £150 million will unlock millions of pounds more of local resources, such as volunteer hours, in-kind support, local donations and the support for community enterprises to generate their own income and be self-sustaining for years to come. It will help grow the community enterprise revolution.

For the Big Lottery Fund this is about being responsive to local need, by making the most of local opportunities. Power to Change is our commitment and contribution to back the ambition of communities, on their terms. After all, who knows better what a local area needs and what would make it better than the people who live there?

This is why we are delighted to be partnering with the Mirror and Camelot to celebrate and raise awareness of the many community enterprises across the country, connect people with enterprising projects in their local area, and inspire many more people to get involved.

You can find out more at or follow @BigLFcommunity on Twitter using the hashtag #PowerToChange

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: