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More young people transforming their lives thanks to lottery funding

Three projects working with young people across Northern Ireland are celebrating after being awarded a total of £1,798,008 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Empowering Young People programme.

Upper Andersonstown Community Forum, based in Tullymore Community Centre in west Belfast, received £598,009 for their five year Youth Empowerment Project. It is working with young people aged eight to 25 in west Belfast who face barriers to education and employment including young carers, migrant children and those dealing with issues including family breakup, additional learning needs and autism.

It is supporting the young people to improve their confidence, self-esteem, skills and wellbeing, and helping to prepare them for education, work or training. Young people will coordinate community clean ups, painting and graffiti removal.  They also sit on the group’s management committee, and mentor others.

Tish Holland, director of Upper Andersonstown Community Forum, said: “It’s brilliant to receive this money from Big Lottery Fund – everyone especially the young people are delighted. It is allowing us to support more young people to improve their skills and confidence. We’re letting the young people take the lead and we’ve been getting lots of ideas from them about what activities to offer.

“Young people in the area are facing a wide range of issues – some of them are affected by mental health issues, and we know that suicide is a big issue in west Belfast. Others may help care for disabled or sick family member, or are coping with issues around family breakup. As well as the wraparound support we offer, we also have excellent links with other community and government services that can help.

“These young people have all the potential in the world and this project is helping them to cope with the challenges they face and fulfil their ambitions.

“Although this project is for young people, the lovely thing about our centre is that it’s a real hub of the community – it’s used by everyone from babies to pensioners. All the different generations are talking and learning from each other.”

Women’s Aid ABCLN, operating in Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey areas, also received £600,000 for their three year Make It Better project. It supports young people who have been affected by domestic violence and works with them to develop their skills, knowledge, understanding and health and wellbeing. It is also supporting them with their education, helping them to set goals and achieve their potential.

Rosemary Magill, CEO of Women’s Aid ABCLN, said: “We are delighted to have been given this funding, which will support young people to move on from their experiences of violence and abuse in their homes. We’re encouraging young women and men to break that cycle that can happen and to learn how to create healthy relationships into their futures. The young people are also learning from and supporting each other, which is so powerful.”

The young people are being offered training programmes including an OCN in Domestic Violence Prevention, talks on mental health, and help with CVs. Young people sit on a project advisory group and steering groups that are deciding on activities, helping recruit project staff, helping boost confidence in younger children and being a voice for change.  

And Acceptable Enterprises, based in Larne, received a grant of £600,000 for their five year Transitions programme. The social enterprise is supporting young people with a learning disability or disadvantage aged 16 to 19 who attend special schools in Larne, Newtownabbey, Ballymena and Jordanstown to move into adult services and, where possible, the world of work.

Through work and social activities, the young people are gaining real experience in manufacturing, retail, packaging, assembly, catering, and horticulture. They are also learning life skills such as confidence, team work, and communication. The young people are steering the project, helping design and develop the activities, and mentoring others.

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 three projects will make to many young people across Northern Ireland.”

More information about the Empowering Young People funding programme 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

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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 £6.5 billion 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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