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Northern Ireland groups share in £766,170 grants windfall from Awards for All

A group in an interface area of east Belfast is using football to engage girls at risk of being involved in anti-social behaviour, thanks to a grants windfall from the Big Lottery Fund.

Short Strand Drug Awareness Group has been awarded £10,000 through the Awards for All programme to run educational workshops and sports activities aimed at young people at risk of taking part in drugs, anti-social behaviour and interface violence. They are one of 88 groups across Northern Ireland who are sharing in a total grants windfall of £766,170 (See separate attachment for full list of awards).

Awards for All offers community, voluntary and statutory groups the chance to apply for small grants of between £500 and £10,000 that will have a big impact on communities and the lives of people most in need.

Lance Shields, workshop leader and sports coach, said: “When people talk about drugs awareness issues, anti-social behaviour and interface violence, it’s usually associated with young men and that’s who a lot of the intervention work is aimed at. So we wanted some of our activities to focus on young girls and women, aged between 10 and 17, in the area.

“We did a survey with the girls and we were surprised to see that football was one of the ones they were keen to do. We run drugs awareness workshops and activities like football, in the evenings and weekends.

“In some of the workshops the kids can be quite shy to start with and not want to talk to us about issues, but if we sit back and let them chat to each other then they start to open up more about drugs and alcohol and then we can start teaching them.
“During last year’s marching season we approached young people at the interfaces. We could see groups of young men with groups of young girls from age 12 upwards walking to and from each riot scene. We managed to get quite a few involved in our activities and some of those young people are still attending and are now acting as role models to others — so it definitely makes an impact.”

Local father Conan Keenan said: “Two of my daughters are involved in the football sessions and they love it. Cailin-Eire is also involved in the drugs awareness workshops.

“We live on an interface area so if they weren’t involved in activities like the football or the learning workshops then I’d be worried where my daughters were and what they are up to as you do get crowds of young ones hanging about and trying to cause trouble.

“I can see the difference in the girls too as they spend time with the group — it’s helped them mature and meet other people.

“You can see the positive impact the group and other groups working with young people are having in the area. Three or four years ago you would have seen 50 or 60 kids hanging about but now thanks to all the alternative activities for young people it’s more like five or six.”

Cailin–Eire Keenan, 15, said: “I really enjoy going to all the activities the group puts on, especially football. I go to the drugs awareness classes as well where I learnt about the danger of drugs and some of the older boys gave us some warnings. When I’m out with friends we see people drinking and smoking but I’m not interested in it. I’m getting to know new people and having a lot of fun. My dad is happy because it keeps me away from the interface.”

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said: “The Big Lottery Fund’s NI Awards for All programme funds health, education, environment and community projects that help people bring about positive change in their lives, improve health and well-being, develop skills and create safer communities.                                                      
“The application process is simple and accessible and shall remain so, making it easy for applicants to successfully apply for small pots of funding that can have such a big impact on local communities and lives.”

A full list of grants awarded is available here

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

For media enquiries, contact Rachel Skinner or Lucy Gollogly at the Big Lottery Fund Press Office on 028 90 551 450 or 02890 551 432

Out of hours media contact: 07554116595
Twitter: @BIGNIonline #BigLottery
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Notes to editors

  • The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery.
  • The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 it has awarded close to £6bn.
  • In the year ending 31 March 2013, 28% of total National Lottery revenue was awarded to projects. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £32 billion has been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded.
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