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First Celebrate grants bring party atmosphere to Northern Ireland

Arts events, family fun days, and volunteer celebrations are amongst the first projects in Northern Ireland yesterday to share in £84,718 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Celebrate programme. 

Across Northern Ireland 21 groups are using grants of £500 to £5,000 to run their own events or activities that allow people to celebrate what makes their local community special. (Find out where the funding has gone in your area)

Newington Day Centre are planning a special event to celebrate the contribution the community makes to the centre next spring. The event, funded with a £5,000 grant from the Celebrate programme, will offer a feast of food and music to local people at a venue in north Belfast.

Margaret McCrudden, centre manager, said: “Last year, our volunteers gave approximately 6,000 hours to the centre. They make such a difference because they are the people who can give the one-to-one time to sit with someone to support them in activities or to befriend someone while the staff are doing the more practical things.”

Margaret said they also wanted to recognise the donations people have made. “Even in a time of people’s own finances are very much under pressure, the community here and throughout north Belfast are very supportive of the day centre.”

Members and volunteers have also spoken about how the centre has changed their lives for the better.

Centre member Maisie Liddy (87) has been coming to the centre twice a week for the past year. Until four years ago, she and her husband, Jimmy, were very active in their community. They each owned a shop in north Belfast and were also involved in fundraising for local charities.

However, Jimmy passed away suddenly and Maisie became seriously ill shortly afterwards. It was when she was in a respite care her that she agreed to her doctor’s suggestion that she try day care.

Maisie said: “I couldn’t get out during the day without help because I lost my confidence. I’m OK if I’m with someone, but I can’t stand too long on my own and I can’t walk all that far. It has saved my life, it really has. Nothing seems to be too much trouble to them.”

Jolene McAllister (34) has been volunteering at the centre for a year. She previously worked in the mental health field, and has not been in paid employment since having her daughter four years ago. Jolene has now gained NVQ stages I and II in Health and Social Care through her volunteering role. “It’s kept my training up to date for the paid work that I hope to get back into now that my daughter’s at school,” she said.

“I would be quite isolated if I didn’t have here because I don’t work and because I’m a single parent. This centre is invaluable to me, giving me experience and giving me something that I enjoy doing,” she said.

Arts Etka in Belfast received a £4,900 grant to deliver an arts celebration event called Through the Forest as part of the Belfast Mela which took place in Botanic Gardens at the end of August.

Kinship Care NI in Derry/Londonderry have been awarded £3,829 to run a family fun day in The Foyle Arena on 10th September. 'Family Fest' will be an opportunity for children and their families to celebrate the importance of family and to meet and develop friendships with other families.

Loughmacrory Community Development Association, which is based in a small village near Omagh, is using a £5,000 grant to run a week of events in September. The whole community will join in activities together to celebrate the group’s 20th anniversary.

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said yesterday: “Today’s Big Lottery Fund grants celebrate what’s special about individual communities across Northern Ireland. From arts festivals to cultural activities and fun days, these events will bring people together to volunteer, have fun and meet more people in their area.

“I am delighted to see such a wide range of groups sharing in these first awards, and I look forward to even more communities celebrating and benefiting in the future.

“Organisations should submit their applications as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Applications are assessed on a first come first served basis until all funds are awarded.”

For media enquiries, contact Rachel Skinner or Niamh Scullion at the Big Lottery Fund Press Office on 028 90 551 450

Out of Hours Media Contact: 0774 7532 846 / 07554116595

Website: http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/northernireland

Twitter: @BIGNIonline #BigLottery

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BigLotteryFundNIGoes to different website

Notes to Editors:

  • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 we have awarded over £6.5billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £35 billion has been raised and more than 490,000 grants awarded.

 

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