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Ten years of funding

16 June 2014

Over the last two weeks, we’ve been looking back over the last ten years of Big Lottery funding and highlighting some of the fantastic things people have achieved with our money.

The Big Lottery Fund is in a privileged position. Our scale, scope and reach mean that our funding has touched every part of the UK.  Since we were set up in 2004 we have made £6.1 billion in grants – most of them small grants of under £10,000 to small local groups.

Behind these numbers are fascinating stories from some amazing projects led by inspirational people. Everyone day-11-blog-NI-dogswho’s read the blogs and case studies we’ve posted over the last two weeks will be impressed by the range of work we’re privilege to fund. Our funding has supported thousands of volunteering opportunities, helped to connect communities, transformed the places people live and play, and funded thousands of jobs.

One of the most exciting things we’ve seen over the last ten years is how small amounts of money can improve people’s lives. A typical example is an Awards for All grant of £10,000 to Assistance Dogs Northern Ireland. The dogs have been expertly trained to help people such as Patrick McDonnell (26), from Co Armagh enjoy life again. Spinal injuries left this active young man in a wheelchair two years ago. “I didn’t go out much. When I did, people tended to see the wheelchair and not me. Now, with Holly, it’s all about her and not the chair. She’s given me back independence,” he said.

a-way-out-1One of the most rewarding experiences for us has been funding the growth of organisations. A Way Out in Stockton-on-Tees was set up in June 2002 with three volunteers to offer a way out to women and children as young as 13 who were addicted to heroin or being sexually exploited. In 2004 A Way Out received a grant of £5,000 from Awards for All for premises costs. Fast forward two years and we awarded them £155,359 and in 2007 a further £297,657. A Way Out went from strength-to- strength. In 2009 it moved into new premises, and a once-derelict building was transformed into a friendly and welcoming place.

At the other end of the spectrum from Awards for All are our large scale strategic investments, such as the Silver Dreams Fund – our initiative dedicated to older people in England.

The Older People’s Advocacy Alliance UK is using its £1 million funding to roll out advocacy services across the country for older people affected by cancer. Volunteer advocates and Cancer Champions will use their own experience of the condition to provide a comprehensive advocacy service tailored to the needs of each individual. The support will include helping older people make decisions on their treatment and care by carrying out research into care options; being present during ward rounds; attending meetings with their consultants; and helping cancer patients gain confidence when talking to medical staff.

Where next?

We’re now running a conversation – Your Voice Our Vision – which will inform our approach over the next five or so years. It’s great that so many people have taken the trouble to add their voices to this conversation. There is still time for you to contribute at

Our funding has to be responsive to the opportunities in local communities, it has to support and enable people with ideas and to cherish the small and the local, as well as tackling difficult issues.

Dawn Austwick



Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive, Big Lottery Fund




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