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Christmas comes early for community groups across Northern Ireland sharing £2.8million of National Lottery funding

Community groups across Northern Ireland are celebrating after being awarded grants from The National Lottery Community Fund just in time for Christmas.

The Eastside Partnership is among those groups in Northern Ireland sharing more than £2.8million funding. The group based in east Belfast have used a £2,783 grant to support the Wandsworth Community Centre in their annual Christmas Lantern Parade which took place on Saturday 7th December. The project helps improve the mental and physical well-being of the centre users.

Jacqueline O’Hagan, Community Arts Officer for the Eastside Partnership said: “It was important to make this parade inclusive and offer people from all over east Belfast the opportunity to be involved in this festive event.

"We simply could not have carried out this engagement without the funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. This money allowed us to directly engage 500 people of all ages and backgrounds to make lanterns and contribute on the night. This money is allowing us to grow this parade so that is becomes something that everyone in east Belfast can be involved in.”

Harmoni 2019 is using a £194,978 grant to run their Keys to Life project, to improve the lives of homeless people at Utility St Hostel in south Belfast. The project is working with homeless men in the hostel to improve their communication and social skills and equip them for permanent housing and employment. The project also includes activities such as an in house social, sports and leisure programme, to help men develop their friendship and support networks, build self-worth and self-esteem.

David McIlhagger, Chairman of Harmoni said: “We are so grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund, the funding provided will allow us to deliver a new and innovative three-year programme called Keys to Life. This programme aims to help our clients gain back their confidence and learn new life skills which we hope will help them return to an independent living arrangement of their choosing.

“Our service of supported accommodation is primarily funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, but this new stream of funding will allow us to do so much more. It shows what can happen when statutory, and independent bodies can work in alignment to ensure the client group is best served. So, on behalf of the board of Harmoni, and especially our clients, we would once again thank the National Lottery Community Fund for their grant support for this project.”

The Ballymena Club for the Hard of Hearing is using a £2,170 grant to deliver lip reading classes for people with hearing impairments. These activities will increase confidence and allow them to integrate better with the hearing community.

Strabane Athletic Football Club is using a grant of £9,600 to deliver workshops on mental health, healthy eating, anti-social behaviour, drug/alcohol use, and upskilling/training for disadvantaged local people. These activities help those taking part to overcome their issues and build resilience for any future challenges.

The Prison Arts Foundation, based in north Belfast, is using a £478,025 grant for their Support Hub project which will run over three years. Working with ex-prisoners, the Support Hub provides support during their transition from custody to the community, building on the skills learned and developed while in prison. This project provides services and activities for up to 200 people each year, not only prisoners on their release but individuals on probation and those serving non-custodial sentences. It will improve mental well-being, learning and skills.

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland Director, said: “I am delighted to announce these grants. It is great to see the amazing and diverse work being done through projects funded by National Lottery money. When people take the lead and develop their own great ideas, communities really do thrive.

“Whether it’s small pots of funding or larger grants, people are being brought together to make good things happen and change lives. I want to say thanks to all the National Lottery players who have helped make this possible.”

A full list of grants awarded can be downloaded below.

For more information on applying for National Lottery funding, please visit our website If you have an idea you would like to discuss or need guidance please call us on 028 9055 1455 or email

Table of all grants awarded on 16 December 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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