Big Lottery Fund
Printable version

£2.3 million in National Lottery funding will help put young people in the lead across Northern Ireland

A project that is improving the health and well-being of children and young people with Down Syndrome in Derry/Londonderry is among those benefiting from £2.3 million in grants from the Big Lottery Fund.

Foyle Down Syndrome Trust Limited received £599,032 for their five year Healthy Hearts and Minds project. It was part of a Big Lottery Fund grants roll out yesterday of £2,371,930 to four groups working with young people across Northern Ireland through the Empowering Young People programme. The others are ADDNI Limited, L’Arche Belfast and Orchardville Society Limited.

See a full list of grants awarded

The Healthy Hearts and Minds project is providing support to 75 children and young people with Down Syndrome and their families. It is working with children and young people aged 8-25 in the Derry and Strabane, and Causeway Coast and Glens District Council areas. Activities include a gardening programme, outdoor pursuits, health workshops, and a mentoring support programme.

Adam Morrison, 10, has Down Syndrome and has been supported by Foyle Down Syndrome Trust since he was a baby. Adam lives with his father Kevin, mother Jo and sister Anna (8) in Derry. With their support he has gone from shy and reserved to confident and outgoing.

Kevin said: “We found out 20 minutes after Adam was born that he had Down Syndrome. It was a shock to us as nothing had been indicated in our scans and we had no idea the full extent of what it meant.

“The first couple of months we were living by a diary because there were so many appointments: physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and gene therapy. It’s a lot to deal with and it was a struggle, but we slowly came to terms with it.

“Having Down Syndrome means it can take a longer time for Adam to learn new things and get comfortable with new situations. It used to be that he couldn’t handle social groupings or loud noises but with the support of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust over the past few years he is like a different person and has a very busy social life.

“I spent so many years standing in corridors in hospitals but now I’m on the side lines of his football games or watching him swimming.

“As a parent it’s great to watch his growing confidence and see him handling these situations different to I ever thought he would.

“Knowing that Foyle Down Syndrome Trust have funding for a new five year project which Adam will benefit from is very reassuring. Without these activities and being with the other kids Adam would be lost.”

Lorraine Gallen, manager of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust said: "We are over the moon at the success of our application and we are really looking forward to delivering our project to improve health and wellbeing, reduce isolation and increase community involvement for our young people with Down Syndrome.

“This is what our families have been asking us for. Young people have been fully involved in the planning of this and once the project begins we will continue to listen to them and involve them throughout the project.”

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said: “I am delighted to announce these grants awarded under the Empowering Young People programme, which is investing £50 million over the next five years to help transform the lives of young people in communities across Northern Ireland.

“We want to fund great projects that put young people in the lead in increasing their skills and confidence, and support them to have stronger relationships so they can cope better with the challenges they face and reach their potential. We are looking forward to seeing the positive impact these projects will make to many young people across Northern Ireland.”

The Empowering Young People programme can support projects working with young people across Northern Ireland including young carers, young people with a learning disability and young people who face barriers to education, training or employment. More information about Empowering Young People can be found on our website,  

For media enquiries, please contact Lucy Gollogly at the Big Lottery Fund Press Office:        

Direct line: 028 90 551 432

Out of hours media contact: 07580 811135


Twitter: @BIGNIonline #BigLottery

Facebook: 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, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.


Channel website:

Share this article

Latest News from
Big Lottery Fund

These courses from Civil Service College cover both introductory and in-depth aspects of Accountability and Governance