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West Midlands groups get £5.1 million National Lottery boost

City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club with giant cheque

Community organisations across the West Midlands are celebrating today after being awarded more than £5.1 million in National Lottery funding. The money, raised by players for good causes, is being distributed by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

In total, 287 community projects across the region are receiving a share. These range from a wheelchair basketball club in Birmingham to a volunteering project for people with learning disabilities in Herefordshire and music sessions for older people with dementia in Staffordshire.

City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club in Ladywood will use their first ever grant of almost £10,000 to encourage more people to take part in wheelchair basketball, by providing more activities to bring people together to enjoy the sport.

Andy Craddock, Head Coach at City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club, said: “I’ve been involved with disability sport for over 10 years and spent five of those playing and coaching wheelchair basketball. I wanted to change people’s perceptions of disability and break down barriers and I thought wheelchair basketball was a great way to do this. Being awarded this funding is the icing on the cake, as it means we can make a huge difference to even more people’s lives, by supporting them to be more active and independent. Taking part will also boost their skills and employment prospects in coaching or becoming leaders in disability sport. Some existing members say taking part in wheelchair basketball actually gave them control of their lives for the first time.”

Thanks to a grant of more than £360,000, ECHO in Herefordshire will continue to support people with learning difficulties to volunteer. It will create more opportunities for people to take part in new activities, learn new skills and make new friends, helping to increase their confidence and self-esteem. The money will also help ECHO to expand its work to support people living with mental health problems or physical disabilities and those who are unemployed.

Denise Kerwood, Inclusive Volunteer Co-ordinator at ECHO, said: “People with learning disabilities benefit enormously from volunteering. It helps develop their life experiences and challenges people’s perceptions and attitudes towards them and their capabilities. They also meet new friends and support each other through difficult times in their lives. We’ve seen an increase in people who have mental health problems and who are unemployed wanting to get into volunteering. This National Lottery funding will help us to provide them with the support and training they need, creating even more fantastic and inspiring volunteers in our local community.”

Age UK Stafford and District will use a £10,000 grant to work with local charity, Make Some Noise, to deliver weekly music and movement sessions for older people. These will provide support to improve their mental, emotional and physical health by bringing people together to enjoy activities and to socialise.

Alison Montgomery, Chief Executive at Age UK Stafford and District, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, these music sessions will help older people to engage with one another, reducing stress and uplifting their mood. Older people face a range of issues including mobility, bereavement and depression, as well as dementia, which can lead to isolation and loneliness. This project will help to reawaken personal memories which otherwise would be lost.”

James Harcourt, England Grant-Making Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Whether in a village, town or city, National Lottery funding is helping to make a difference, bringing communities together to help people lead happier and healthier lives.

“It’s wonderful to see the positive impact projects like these are making in the West Midlands. They are an inspiration to others, showing what great things can be achieved when people work together to tackle the things that really matter to their community.”

The Big Lottery Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded almost £713 million and supported almost 14,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. 90% of the grants it makes are for under £10,000.

As part of today’s announcement, it has revealed that it is making grants totalling £41 million going to over 2,300 community organisations across England.

To find out more visit: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk.