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Wellbeing 2: healthy eating

6 May 2016


A healthy, balanced diet is an important aspect of maintaining health and wellbeing. Our Wellbeing 2 funding aimed to increase awareness of, and access to, healthy foods.


What the funding delivered

  • 43% of adults said they had made positive changes to their eating habits because of a project.


What can Wellbeing 2 can tell us about healthy eating?

  1. Shorter courses for families (such as a cooking session, recipe creation, or a healthy shopping trip) can be popular and help people take their first steps towards adopting a healthier attitude.
  2. But if we want to develop skills around food, then longer term courses that gradually pass over responsibility for eating and diet are more likely to be the answer.
  3. We need to make healthy eating activities enjoyable and fun! If the tone of the activity is dull or demanding then it’s less likely to illicit long term change.
  4. Good projects tick two boxes. They address both “what’s effective” and “what people want to take part in”.
  5. Through all this work, we should demonstrate how healthy eating can be achieved on a budget.
  6. Quick wins can be good. So providing clear, simple recipes that only use a few ingredients may be quick and simple, but can also be a big step in the right direction.
  7. Food is sociable. As well as improving eating habits, group activities also promote social interaction (which in turn aids wellbeing). There’s a feedback loop.
  8. We should provide appropriate food-related activities that are culturally aware of the people who may want to take part.


The funding in action

Bolsover Church of England Junior School in Derbyshire has over 290 pupils and has been a Food for Life gold award holder since 2010. Some years ago, the school had no facilities for cooking, growing or farming. They now have a specially designated cookery classroom with dedicated design technology teachers, garden, polytunnel, an orchard and a ‘farm’ where they raise chickens, pigs and goats.

Headteacher Rowena Herbert tells us how the school has changed its culture, with a little help from Food for Life.

The Community Fruit and Veg project 035“The children have developed new skills, gained in confidence, and are seeing what they have grown. Food for Life has raised awareness of the whole of food culture – what we eat, how we produce and cook it – and the children really enjoy this. Many people comment on how food orientated we are, which I feel is invaluable because we have been identified as an area with a high obesity problem.”

Pupils had the opportunity to cook, grow and farm. The activity links to the curriculum and gets staff, pupils and parents working together. The school ran competitions to encourage children to design new school-meals, with the winning entries being added to our lunch menu. Many of the dishes on the menu include produce grown in the school garden.

“On Friday afternoons we have enrichment time, in which pupils choose activities ranging from cooking and growing and to sport, first aid and beauty therapy. We have food theme nights, where children set up the canteen like a restaurant and take bookings. We have a school shop, which sells goods and produce made or grown in school workshops. Every fortnight, we offer a roast dinner for people in the local community and in which we have a maximum of 40 guests each time. The children serve the guests, which is a great way for them to mix with the community.

“We see it as paramount importance that our pupils understand where their food comes from and how the choices they make in life can impact on their health and wellbeing. We provide a rich, enhanced curriculum in which food is at the forefront of everything including developing our pupils’ skills in farming and gardening.”

In 2015 the School became the first ever to win Lead Association for Catering in Education’s ‘School Food Achievement Award’, ‘presented to a primary or secondary school, who in the opinion of the judges, has strived to achieve the most significant improvements in food and education, taking a whole school approach’.


See for yourself

Keeping to the young people theme, this video from Soil Association focuses on improving healthy eating in schools and hospitals in Yorkshire. Activities include training for school cooks and hospital chefs, and working with school and hospital managers to improve standards.



If you missed it…

The background to Wellbeing 2 can be found here.

Our blog on physical activity can be found here.

Our blog on mental wellbeing can be found here.

Wellbeing 2: mental wellbeing

5 May 2016




After yesterday’s look at physical activity, today we focus on another important aspect of our wellbeing…

Better mental health helps people feel more confident, energetic and able to take part in other activities. We wanted, through Wellbeing 2, to help adults and children build social contacts to help improve their mental wellbeing.


What the funding delivered

  • 54% of young people supported through the programme said they had felt positive changes in their mental wellbeing.
  • Around one in three people who reported symptoms of depression at the beginning of their involvement no longer had those symptoms when their involvement ended.
  • 10% more people reported feeling optimistic about the future ‘often or all of the time’.


What can Wellbeing 2 tell us about mental wellbeing?

Providing adequate time for engaging participants – speaking to them about what they’d like to do and what they’d like to achieve, before launching into the work can pay dividends longer term.

  1. Projects that transfer ownership and a sense of responsibility for the activities to their participants often have a strong impact. The sense of responsibility for activities can, in itself, be a cause of improved wellbeing.
  2. In the same vein, good projects train and support peer educators.
  3. Train the trainer! Good projects identify leaders to continue the work in their local area after initial funding has finished.
  4. Engaging people with lived experience of mental health problems helps to convey key messages and reduces stigma.


The funding in action

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As part of its Children and Young People’s project, Mind helped deliver a range of awareness raising activities and campaigns through its Time to Change portfolio. The schools project worked with 25 schools across five regions. Young leaders, aged 14-16, were recruited and trained to run mental health awareness activities and anti-stigma campaigns.

“It got the whole college environment really involved. It gave a nice vibe to the college. It opened everyone’s eyes to mental health stigma and discrimination. They can understand it more and have an idea of what people with mental health problems are going through, whereas before they just probably wouldn’t really understand and wouldn’t really care.” Young Leader

The Young Leaders ran campaigns to coincide with World Mental Health Day and Time to Talk Day, as well as organising a pop-up village event.

Before I became involved with Time to Change I was ashamed of every single part of my experience.” One young person with a mental health problem.

By the end of the grant, the portfolio had reached 28,754 children and young people. 19% of young people surveyed (across three schools) said they had spipad download May 14 373oken about mental health in the last month and 41% talked about mental health to friends or family.

I’ll see people, who I probably would previously have been like, ‘oh my god, I’m not going up to them’ and I’ll purposefully go up to that person and talk to them, because I don’t judge a book by its cover anymore.” A Young Involvement Worker.


See for yourself

Also from Mind, this video focuses on 300 Voices, a project working with African and Caribbean men in Birmingham to tackle mental health stigma. Mind worked with the Police, the local NHS Trust and the Local Authority.


If you missed it…

The background to Wellbeing 2 can be found here.

Our blog on physical activity can be found here.

Our blog on healthy eating can be found here.

Wellbeing 2: physical activity

4 May 2016


As part of our focus this week on wellbeing, today we’re looking at physical activity

Physical activity, such as walking or gardening, can improve your ‘general fitness’ while also helping your mental wellbeing. Much of the Wellbeing 2 funding supported communities to become more physically active by offering improved access or opportunities to physical activities.


What the funding delivered

  • A 41% increase in adults taking part in some ‘vigorous activity’.
  • A decrease from 36% to 21% of young people undertaking no moderate activity.
  • The number of people who had a high level of physical activity increased from 27% (at the beginning of the programme) to 36% (three to six months after it ended).


What can Wellbeing 2 tell us about physical activity?

  1. Often the most popular activities are led by those who are participating. Encourage participants to design, plan and deliver their own activities.
  2. Different ways of providing projects can reach different groups. For example, taster sessions for physical activities can work well, while residential trips for younger people can have a big impact on their wellbeing.
  3. We should be mindful that small amounts of money may need to be spent; by both projects and individuals to buy items that enable participation (such as gym equipment or clothing).
  4. Building elements into daily routines can help people to keep up the good work. Small changes but big impacts!
  5. Training local people as volunteers to deliver activities can help sustain activities in the longer term.
  6. We need to consider what additional support participants with physical or learning disabilities, or poor mental health, may need to help them participate. For some people, there are very specific barriers to taking part.
  7. How we talk about physical activity matters; how we market it, how be label it. If we get this wrong, we can put some people off.
  8. People can be put off if they feel they don’t belong in the wider group. For example, if they are unsure about whether an activity is for them, seeing a group of ‘superfit’ people also taking part doesn’t help.
  9. Good volunteer management is important. It’s hard to replicate or replace a good volunteer, but volunteers need support too.


The funding in action

Sustrans’ Active Travel Consortium delivered 19 projects in partnership with Living Streets, Ramblers, London Cycling Campaign and Cycling UK.

The Active Travel Consortium portfolio promoted walking and cycling for everyday journeys by helping deliver 19 projects across England. These 19 projects worked with nearly 114,000 people, getting them cycling or walking.

In West Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, ‘Travel Champions’ recruited and supported volunteers to lead walks, cycle rides or events promoting walking or cycling. The activities were designed to reach hard-to-reach groups; so there were school-based walks for mums starting immediately after school drop off time, and a carers’ walking group providing a sociable exercise for carers during respite.

The ‘Inclusive Cycling Champions’ project created a network of cycling centres, helping to improve current centres and support new ones. This reached 17,373 people (against a target of 4,400).

And Walk to Work encouraged employees to, well, walk to work! The Wellbeing 2 funding developed digital resources to help, and these can be found on the Living Streets website.

By the end of the project, the Consortium had recorded 4,170 people who had volunteered to run activities. As well as the increased physical activity, many of those who took part also reported a reduction in loneliness and depression (they were more confident and content because they had volunteered).

If you took part in any of these activities, we want to hear from you. Email to tell us how your physical health improved by taking part of one of our funded projects.


If you missed it…

The background to Wellbeing 2 can be found here.

Our blog on mental wellbeing can be found here.

Our blog on healthy eating can be found here.

What can we learn from Wellbeing 2?

3 May 2016

Wellbeing-blog-picThroughout this week we are going to be taking a closer look at the issue of wellbeing, as today we publish the evaluation of the Wellbeing 2 funding (England). We will be focusing on the three areas where Wellbeing 2 funding concentrated; physical activity, mental wellbeing and healthy eating.


So what was Wellbeing 2?

A £40 million investment between 2013 and 2015. This supported 200 projects across England. Around 810,000 people took part in activities targeting three key areas: physical activity, healthy eating, mental wellbeing. Three months after linking up with a project, a 41% increase in the number of adults taking part in some ‘vigorous activity’, a 43% increase of adults said they had made positive changes to their eating habits because of a project, 54% of young people reported positive changes in their mental wellbeing.


The funding was distributed through 14 ‘portfolios’ (collections of projects). The 14 portfolios were:

Let’s Get Cooking led by Children’s Food Trust

Time to Change led by Mind

Food for Life Partnership led by The Soil Association

Chances4Change led by Portsmouth City Council

Activate London led by Peabody Trust

Well London led by Greater London Authority

Fit as a Fiddle led by Age UK

North West Networks for Healthy Living Partnerships led by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Altogether Better led by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Active Travel Consortium led by Sustrans

Target:Wellbeing (NW) led by Groundwork UK

Healthy Transitions led by Foyer Federation

Live Well in the South West led by Westbank Healthy Living in the South West

Enable East led by North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust


We’ve refreshed the health and wellbeing research webpages on our website, to support projects working in this area (or those who would like to in the future).

From 1pm on Thursday, we are hosting a live chat on our Community. If you have questions or queries, we have experts from inside and outside Big Lottery Fund who might have some of the answers.

Keep an eye out across our social media platforms this week, #wellbeing, for some of the lessons and the stories we have to share. Let us know what you’ve learned from your own work; we’d love to hear your achievements, whether you’re a Wellbeing 2 project or not. Use the hashtag to share your experiences, but find out more about Wellbeing 2 and this week’s activities email

In the meantime, hear from Anna (from West Cumbria) and Alan (from Exeter) about how Wellbeing 2’s Fit as Fiddle helped them.



If you missed it…

Our blog on physical activity can be found here.

Our blog on mental wellbeing can be found here.

Our blog on healthy eating can be found here.

The power of ‘humble data’

26 April 2016

Last week, Joe Ferns introduced the Big Lottery Fund’s plan for knowledge & learning, along with how we’d use data in the future. Today, Diana Barran, chief executive at SafeLives – the national charity dedicated to ending domestic violence – gives her take on knowledge and ‘humble data’

A number of the points in Joe’s blog really resonated with the experience we have had at SafeLives over the past few years, as we have tried to capture, aggregate, understand and use more data about the work of the many small specialist domestic abuse services around the country.logo

Joe talks about having a sense of purpose and being clear about why you are keeping the data.  We were clear that we wanted the voice and experience of the victim to be captured systematically and then analysed and shared with those who needed to hear it – everyone from the frontline practitioner, and the manager of the service to commissioners, funders and policy makers. We aim to never ask for a practitioner to record any data that they would not normally keep for the purposes of good case management. Our Insight’s dataset has information on over 50,000 adult victims, children and young people collected by about 50 different domestic abuse services.

And it has been the ‘humble data’ – the data about who accesses services, where they access them, how long they have to wait before getting help and what their needs are, that have proved to be powerful and actionable.

A few examples:

  • Domestic abuse has a terrible impact on the mental health of both the victim and their children.  But our data showed major variations in levels of disclosure of mental health problems – from under 10% to over 60%.  The obvious question is why? What emerged is that the setting of the service and confidence of the practitioner are key to eliciting a disclosure.  Domestic abuse practitioners based in hospitals saw twice the level of disclosure than their colleagues in community settings.  Local services are using this information to negotiate co-location in A&E or with the local mental health team.  The result?  Big increases in disclosures and a better response for victims.
  • We can see the lack of provision for older women, many of whom live with abuse for over 20 years before they get help.  This is a simple message for funders to hear and respond to in their grant making.  Other messages about inequality of access that have relevance to funders, commissioners and policy makers are crystal clear in relation to barriers for B&ME victims to the criminal justice system, for working women to refuge provision and for LGBT communities. Click here for more of our data on this issue

None of this is to say that outcome data isn’t important.  Of course it is. The joy of the humble stuff – especially when it is aggregated – is that the evidence is solid, the messages self evident and the resulting action benefits those who we are aiming to support in a way that no charity analysing its work on its own could reasonably do.  And crucially, it can often be achieved without a big price tag attached.


Introducing our plan for knowledge & learning

21 April 2016

Joe Ferns – UK Knowledge and Portfolio Director at the Big Lottery Fund – tells us more about our new strategy for how we work with projects to develop our learning:

It’s strange being new again. After 12 years at the same organisation you can feel its heart beat, you know where its strengths and weaknesses are and understand its fears and hopes. You’re ‘wired in’ to its psychology.

Building this sense of connection with an organisation the size and scale of the Big Lottery Fund is difficult for lots of reasons and will take time. However, these last few months have provided a great opportunity when trying to develop the Fund’s approach to Knowledge and Learning. I’m seeing the ‘machine’ for the first time and as something of an outsider. I’m meeting people who feel able to share their experiences of working at or with the Fund in a frank and honest way. I’m seeing things that I think we should be shouting about and celebrating more, and I’m wondering why we would tie ourselves up in knots about others. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the warmth, humour and passion of the people. The image of the Big Lottery Fund may not scream ‘fun’ and yet in its people you can see a genuine sense of pride and enjoyment in what they do. Young girl with headphones at pc

Mostly I’m seeing a huge potential and an organisation which has set itself some fairly big challenges because it cares deeply about the people, communities and sector it supports. It’s a sense of duty and responsibility which has driven us to think about why we need a new approach to Knowledge and Learning.

What do we want from evaluation?

I felt strongly that we needed to make sure we had a clear sense of purpose when we thought about anything to do with learning. It’s too easy to end up trying to be all things to all people when it comes to learning. We need to make sure that the purpose of our work in this area is to empower people to improve their communities and their own lives; so our work has to be grounded in the real frontline experience of people and organisations and must be useful to them.

It was also clear that we needed to have a sense of proportionality. Given the range of grants Big Lottery Fund makes, it isn’t sensible to take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to evaluation.

Linked to this is the need to strike the right balance between formative evaluation (ie. evaluation during the development or implementation to see how to improve a project) and summative evaluation (i.e. an evaluation ‘afterwards’). We will focus on formative evaluation for smaller grants that can produce learning that grant holders can use in real-time. We will only use summative evaluation – which tells us about impact – where we have made the significant investment to support it and not shoehorn all  grants into measuring and reporting on impact where it is not appropriate.

I think some of the most important learning comes from understanding what hasn’t worked and why. We need to adopt a positive approach to learning from what doesn’t work so that people are as able to learn from failure as they are from success.

Our Big Aims

The upshot of all this is a new strategy with four aims:

  1. We, and the organisations we fund, will be accountable to the people and
    communities we serve through clear, proportionate information and evaluation
    which demonstrates the difference we make.
  2. We will be an organisation with a thirst for discovery and learning which is
    constantly innovating and using what our customers know in order to be an intelligent
  3. We will encourage and support the organisations we fund to learn by ensuring we are a flexible funder who promotes courage, honesty and adaptability.
  4. We will share our own knowledge and that of the organisations we fund by
    being more externally focused and creating platforms and networks

What do you think?

We have some ideas about how we’ll put this into practice and I’ll be writing about those in future blogs but most importantly we need to start a conversation with partners, grant holders and anyone else who can help us turn this into a reality.

It’s not something we’re alone in trying to figure out so I’m very keen to hear what others are doing and what else you think we should be trying.


Supporting women to have a working chance

8 March 2016

Today is International Women’s Day. We’re also announcing funding for the Early Action Task Force to support the local implementation of policies and practice that focus on ‘acting earlier’.

A great example of an early action service supporting women is Working Chance, the UK’s only recruitment consultancy for women with criminal convictions. It operates in partnership with prison and probation services across London and the South East, preventing re-offending by enabling female ex-offenders to find quality employment.

early-action-blogWhy is this early action?

Sustainable, paid employment is a crucial factor in reducing re-offending. Women make up only 5% of our national prison population, so most statutory services for ex-offenders are geared towards of men. Fewer than one in ten women leaving prison have secured employment upon release, an outcome three times worse than for men.

Working Chance empowers women to be financially independent and stimulated in work, making them less likely to re-offend, better able to care for their children and contribute to society. By working in prisons to prepare women for release and continuing their support after they’re placed into work, it’s enabling ex-offenders to make a smooth, long-term transition back into mainstream society.

How does it work?

All sorts of women come to Working Chance. Because there’s no typical female ex-offender, Working Chance offers tailored assessment, support, training and recruitment. There are often multiple barriers to employment for these women so it also provides social and financial support, helping women overcome challenges including debt, homelessness, domestic abuse and mental health issues.

Getting to know the ‘whole woman’ helps Working Chance put the right support network in place, enabling them to make lasting changes. Because many of the women Working Chance support are mothers, this is often about empowering them to improve their children’s life through work. 17,000 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment each year, the vast majority of which enter the care system. While only 1% of under-18s are in care, 61% of girls in prison have spent time in care. As part of its commitment to breaking the intergenerational cycle of crime, Working Chance has recently launched Total Transitions, its project supporting young women leaving care into training and employment to reduce their risks of offending.

What has it achieved?

Just 7% of women who’ve been placed into work by Working Chance re-offend, compared with the 45% national average of women leaving prison. The main challenge is finding employers willing to hire ex-offenders. Attitudes are changing, but many remain fearful doing so will damage its reputation with clients and the media. Working Chance is leading by example, with 40% of its staff having personal experience of the criminal justice system. It’s also running an apprenticeship scheme enabling women with convictions to become fully qualified recruitment consultants.

What can we learn?

Working Chance’s culture of focusing on where women are going, and not where they’ve been is what makes it effective. Unlike most contact these women have with services, they’re treated as individuals with potential, not ex-offenders. Working Chance shows that an organisation’s culture and the relationship it fosters between staff and those using its services, has a great impact on how they perceive themselves and their ability to change their situation.

Although the women Working Chance supports have already faced great challenges, it’s still not too late to act one stage earlier and prevent the cycle being repeated. Today’s funding will enable the Early Action Task Force to find and share more examples of “what works” and encourage practitioners, funders and policymakers to think one step sooner.

The Early Action Task Force is publishing more early action examples next month. It is also keen to find more examples of local early action. If you have a story to share, get in touch at



Support for families this Mothers Day (and all year long)

6 March 2016

In celebration of Mother’s day, we are sharing the story of projects that work to support mothers and their children.

Ruth and Jaz, children and families support workers

Ruth and Jaz, children and families support workers

On a quiet industrial road in Birmingham, is one such project. Situated at the top of an old Warehouse is Baby Bank Central. The project, set up in 2014, supports families of young children in need of essential baby items.

The Baby Bank is a partnership project between Birmingham City Church and Karis Neighbour scheme, headed up by Children & Families Worker Ruth. They have received support from the Big Lottery Fund and funding from Grantham Yorke Trust.

Families are referred to the Baby Bank by support workers, health visitors or children’s centres. The people benefitting from the service are often society’s most vulnerable.

Ruth explains:

“Many of the families that come to us are fleeing domestic violence, a lot are refugees. We recently helped a family who were living in their car, all their newborn baby had was the sleep suit it was wearing. Most of these families are described as having ‘no recourse to public funds’ meaning that they are ineligible to claim benefits. There really is no other help for them”

A recent beneficiary of the project is single mother Michelle.

Michelle was forced to move to Birmingham from her home in Devon with her 3 children after fleeing domestic violence, and is heavily pregnant.

“I had to leave my home quickly with my 3 children. All we took with us was the clothes we were wearing and important paperwork. I had nothing for the new baby, and no family or friends for support.

Volunteers at the Baby Bank

Volunteers at the Baby Bank

I was referred to the Baby Bank by my local children’s centre, and they really took care of me. I have everything I need for my new baby, it is one less thing to worry about. They are fantastic people”

As well as taking direct referrals, the Baby Bank is now expanding to support children’s centres. Jaz, a senior family support worker from Handsworth family centre arrives to collect a package for a new mother rebuilding her life:

“I am collecting a follow up package for a mother who was helped by the Baby Bank during her pregnancy. She was trafficked into this country illegally, the baby bank provided equipment and clothing and even a hospital pack of toiletries. Now the baby is older they are supporting her with nappies and clothes for the next size up. It’s just that vital bit of support whilst she gets on her feet”

You can find out more about the Baby Bank, including details of how to donate, by visiting their Facebook page.


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