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How is the National Lottery helping our communities?

Royal Blind School

A few things will probably spring to mind when you hear the phrase ‘National Lottery’. You’ll be thinking about all those average Joe’s who have scooped the jackpot and won their fortune. Well, while this is true, the National Lottery is much, much more than that.

The aim of the game is to have your lucky numbers read out and cash in a few million and although this could advance your lifestyle in the best way possible, it can also benefit communities around the country too. For every £2 ticket bough, 56 pence goes towards good causes and since 1994, more than £38 billion has been raised for good causes. In 2004, the Big Lottery Fund was formed and has awarded more than £6 billion to over 130,000 UK projects.

According to figures from 2016/17, there was more than £700 million in funding award to more than 13,000 grands; expecting to reach over nine million beneficiaries. More than 10,000 of those who benefitted were charities, with over £550 million being used to support improved mental wellbeing.

What great things have regions in the UK experienced as a result? Here, we take a look at some of the beneficiaries:

Looking at Scotland

As we’re looking on a regional scale, it’s important to start from the top. Royal Blind received £45,000 in May thanks to help from the public. The blind school in Morningside, Edinburgh, was one of three groups in the East of Scotland to receive the top level of funding in a share of £150,000. The money is to be used to buy specialist equipment for outdoor lessons as well as specialist playground equipment suitable for children with disabilities.

“We are absolutely over the moon to have secured the funding which will go towards enabling our pupils to learn and play outside. Too often children with a vision impairment are unable to access play areas in the same way as their sighted peers. They are not able to experience the freedom and exhilaration of outdoor play.

“With this funding we will be able to enhance Sensory Play, Active Play and outdoor learning through the creation of a kitchen garden. Pupils can help grow fruit and vegetable from seed to the kitchen” was one comment from the school’s deputy head teacher.

Looking at the North East of England

The Angel of the North has become a nationwide attraction after its build in 1998 with help from Arts Council England. Recently featuring in a photo shoot to celebrate 20 years of National Lottery funding, the 20-metres tall sculpture in Gateshead dominates the skyline and is seen by more than one person every second.

Using 200 tonnes of steel, it’s become a beacon of hope for the region and has a huge wingspan of 54 metres. Of his masterpiece, sculptor, Antony Gormley, told Lottery Good Causes: “The angel has three functions – firstly a historic one to remind us that below this site coal miners worked in the dark for 200 years, secondly to grasp hold of the future, expressing our transition from the industrial to the information age, and lastly to be a focus for our hopes and fears – a sculpture is an evolving thing.”

Looking at the North West of England

You may be familiar with Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie — but the gold medallist couldn’t have achieved what he has without National Lottery funding. The funding meant that Ben was able to train full time and receive the best medical care, coaching and facilities that are available. Seeing such a success from a local athlete often works as an incentive for others to push to be the best they can be, so while this funding was of great help to Ben, it may have help others from his area too as they followed his journey.

To celebrate the 2020 Olympic Games in London, Ben was selected to be the first bearer of the Olympic torch as well as being the flag-bearer at the Closing Ceremony. For London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, an amazing £2.2 billion was invested by National Lottery players.

Looking at the West Midlands

If you’re not located in the Midlands, you may not have heard about this fantastic scheme. Dads Do It Too received funding to schedule weekly workshops for dads (and farther figures) to attend with their little ones. The project allows you to learn new skills together and enhance your father-child relationship.

We’ve all heard of the advantages of sport participation — and Sport 4 Life helped transform lives in Birmingham after receiving funding. The organisation works with ‘at risk’ children and young people as well as underprivileged families and adults from disadvantaged areas. It’s believed that sport can help improve the health, build key skills and raise their confidence while bringing communities together. The fund allowed them to include activities such as football, badminton and table tennis while also providing healthy eating courses and sports coaching.

Looking at London

Since the beginning of the National Lottery, 52,000 projects have been supported in London. In June this year, community groups in Newham received £250,000.

As well as this, around £100,000 was awarded to The Green Station which is looking to transform a former railway line (North Woolwich) into a community space. It is estimated that the space will be used by 1,500 residents each year once it opens. Elsewhere, £10,000 was given to projects including English language and IT sessions for women and tuition for disadvantaged children and young adults.

Looking at Wales

Believe it or not, Music in Hospitals was initiated through National Lottery funding and enables hospices to book live music concerts for their patients. The project provides a crucial distraction from any illness or medical care for both the patient and their family, friends and carers, meaning the happy times don’t have to come to a standstill during this testing period.

Through a £30 million investment, Big Lottery Fund Wales Director, John Rose is looking to grant communities in Wales with up to £10,000. One project that recently received such a grant was Welcome to Our Woods, who received £1,282 from Create Your Space. The community in Upper Rhondda Fawr, South Wales Valleys, is intent on making to woodland more useful and relevant to the region.

Looking at Northern Ireland

Although The Knights Wheelchair Basketball Club was successful without funding, it couldn’t keep up with the demand and required additional spend. Thanks to the grant it received, the club was able to buy specially adapted wheelchairs and set up a junior club.

“I can see a difference in so many of the kids. They’re so much more outgoing than when they started, and they have new skills. Their parents are so proud.” Club treasurer, Aubrey Bingham commented.

On top of all this, at the beginning of this year Northern Ireland received £1.3 million in funding to better the health of the country. More than £500,000 of this was to help people in County Armagh, with Community First Responders County Armagh & Tyrone, the Brain Injury Foundation in Camlough and Dialogue in Diversity, in Portadown, among those to reap the benefits.

Projects around the country could benefit from this funding by filling out an application form —whether you’re a blind charity or a local sport club. If you believe your cause can gain from such grants, then don’t hesitate to get in touch and let the National Lottery change the lives of those around you.