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£10m National Lottery funding boost for Northern Ireland groups

Older people, families, and people with learning disabilities are among those benefiting from almost £10 million of National Lottery funding during Isolation Awareness Week.

A total of 31 groups across Northern Ireland have been awarded £9,420,282 from The National Lottery Community Fund. From providing transport for older people in rural areas to activities for people with learning disabilities, some of these projects are helping to reduce isolation and loneliness to people across Northern Ireland.

CAN is one the groups celebrating. They received a £361,297 grant for their five-year Community LINX Project which is supporting people with learning disabilities and autism aged over 18 in the Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid and East Antrim Council areas.

The project is helping them to access social and leisure activities, develop friendships and reduce loneliness and isolation. Some people will be paired with able-bodied buddies and they will support each other to take part in activities and connect to their community. The programme includes a social club, peer support, mentoring, communication skills, guidance on healthy friendships, and volunteer training.

Linda McKendry, director of services for CAN, yesterday said:

“This is an amazing opportunity for our guys to come together with people in their own communities for social and leisure opportunities and expand their networks. The friendship is two-way and as one of our young Peer Buddies said, ‘I never had a friend until I had a buddy’. We look forward to inviting lots of new people to get involved in our CAN Family by getting involved with this fantastic project.”

MHS Heritage and Cultural Ltd has been awarded a £148,799 grant over three years to run activities for older people in the Maghera area to reduce loneliness and isolation. It is also creating a shared space and community hub with a coffee and tea room where people can meet in a relaxed environment to socialise or learn new skills.

Down Armagh Rural Transport Partnership received a £253,000 grant for their three-year Creating Sustainable Communities project. It is developing five community hubs in in Banbridge, Craigavon, Dromore, Lurgan and Portadown, and supporting them to deliver transport services for people who have difficulty accessing services in their area, including a social car scheme to reduce isolation and loneliness among older people through befriending.

Access Employment Limited in Larne also received £296,677 for their five-year Community Shed project. They are supporting men and women from the Mid and East Antrim Council area with learning disabilities or difficulties, autism spectrum disorder, mental or physical ill health and older retired people. The project is reducing isolation, improving wellbeing and teaching new skills which could lead to new employment.

Easilink, Willowbank Limited, Harpurs Hill Children and Family Centre Limited, Deafblind UK, and Dementia NI have also received funding for projects which are reducing isolation. To read about all 31 groups being funded please click here.

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland Director, yesterday said:

“I am delighted to announce these grants today. It’s great to see National Lottery money being used by people who are taking the lead in developing great ideas to help their communities thrive. I want to say thanks to all the National Lottery players who have helped make this possible.”

Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at For more details call us on 028 9055 1455, or e-mail us at

Full table of grants announced 19 June 2019

Notes to Editors

We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

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