Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Creative projects share £1 million as summer of learning gets under way

A mobile film studio for disadvantaged young adults, football skills for the homeless and university lectures for older people are among the 18 projects which have today won Government funding, kicking off a £20m scheme that will see creative learning flourish across the country.

The projects are the first ‘Early Bird’ bids to receive funding under the Government’s £20m Transformation Fund to support informal adult learning – learning for pleasure, self-development and community development. 

Each project has been allocated a share of £1m by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).  The projects will introduce a range of innovative adult learning initiatives and activities for the benefit of a diverse range of communities and individuals. 

The Transformation Fund delivers on commitments made in The Learning Revolution White Paper, published earlier this year, which announced a new approach to improving people’s lives and prosperity though learning for pleasure. 

Kevin Brennan, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Consumer Affairs, said:           

“These new projects will help to transform the way adults engage with learning - be it through music, creative writing, or parent groups - at the same time as promoting new partnerships in local communities. 

“Learning for pleasure is hugely important  - contributing to health, building confidence and improving community cohesion.  In the longer term, informal learning can also act as a stepping stone towards more formal qualifications and employment.”  

BIS has also announced today that the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has won the tender to manage the Transformation Fund and oversee the distribution of the remaining £19million grant fund. 

Alan Tuckett, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:  

“NIACE is proud to have the role of supporting the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills managing the Transformation Fund. We argued in our response to the Informal Learning Consultation that there is no better stimulus for local adult learning providers than the creation of a fund to trigger innovation and new partnerships. 

“There’s already evidence from the ‘early bird’ bids of how creative and imaginative community-based adult learning can be when it’s given the opportunity for blue-skies thinking and the money to put those ideas into practice.” 

The Transformation Fund was set up to encourage new partnerships between public, private and community organisations and create informal learning activities which: 


  • encourage more and different people into informal learning, particularly people from disadvantaged groups;
  • open up access to learning in new places, in new ways and at more flexible times;
  • support people to set up self-organised groups and learning clubs;
  • widen choice, by developing and sharing innovative content;
  • build partnerships and strengthen the capacity of informal adult learning organisations;
  • improve connections and progression between different kinds of learning; and
  • make better use of broadcasting and technology to stimulate and support learning.


The fund, available in 2009-10, adds to the £210m which the Government has already ring-fenced to support informal adult learning.  The Government also invests £360m each year in museums and galleries, £10m in UK online centres in libraries and other community settings and £21.5m in union learning. 

The Transformation Fund delivers on a pledge made in the Government’s The Learning Revolution  White Paper, published in March 2009, which describes how Government and a multitude of partner organisations can work together to create a new movement for informal learning.

Notes to editors

1.                    To find out more about what the Transformation Fund grants are for, download the Learning Revolution Transformation Fund prospectus at:

2.                    The list of Early Bird projects that have been awarded funding are: 

The Media Bus CIC (Poole) 

The Media Bus: this Poole-based project will give young adults right across the south west the chance to produce short films, animations and documentaries on board a fantastic media bus with space for 30 creative people. The bus will be stocked with computers, screening facilities, HD camera equipment, sound mixing equipment, an outdoor screen and projector.  Even better, the bus will use recycled materials, wood from sustainable sources, solar panels and bio fuel for power! 

Crewe YMCA

Young homeless adults in YMCA accomodation are often in poor physical shape and suffer from mental health and drug problems as well as being homeless. Their educational potential is usually unrealised and they frequently have chaotic personal histories and circumstances.  Often football is the one positive thing in their lives. This Crewe-based YMCA project will harness their passion for football and use it to help them improve their health, learn new skills, acquire self-discipline and develop the stability they need to be successful in more formal learning. 

Lancaster University 

Lancaster University, the University's Senior Learners Student Society and Lancaster and Morecombe University of the Third Age will prove that it’s never too late to learn.  These organisations will work together to open up a wide choice of lectures, seminars and discussion groups to older people at free or low cost, with additional 'learning circles' led by the members of the Student Society. 

Harlow, Science Alive

The project will use hands-on learning to convey the excitement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and their relevance to our everyday lives. The project will offer adult learners 19-99 a range of science-based informal learning activities, including Silver Surfers: everyday computer skills for older learners, Blinded with Science: an introduction to STEM in everyday life, Storyteller: how to make a meal out of a simple idea, Kids Stuff: an accessible introduction to the National Curriculum and Presenting Me: developing presentation skills through drama. 

Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry 

This impressive project will develop new informal learning opportunities across the county of Hertfordshire, consulting with local people to find out what they want and helping to make it happen.  The project will develop taster sessions, an informal learning directory, a local autumn learning festival and help for small clubs and local learning groups, such as reading groups. 

Staffordshire County Council

300 Staffordshire carers will be offered a choice of short courses on topics such as Family History, Local Studies, Reminiscence, Drama and Music, First Aid, Walk and Draw, Art and Craft, Holistic Therapies, Book Clubs, Gardening, Digital Photography and IT.  Every time a carer attends a different learning course they'll receive a point and carers who have collected enough points will enjoy a day out at Shughborough Hall or an overnight adult learning residential experience at Wedgwood Memorial College or Pendrell Hall College. 

Greenbank College, Liverpool 

60 disabled adults in Liverpool will get the chance to try out informal learning with lots of support.  The lucky learners will choose what and when they want to learn, with music, arts, crafts, drama, photography, DJing and sport highly likely to appear on the wish list.

Southern Brooks Community Partnership 

This project will create a unique learning community across Bradley Stoke, Filton, Patchway and Stoke Gifford in South Gloucestershire.  By breaking down barriers and bringing people together to share their interests, skills and experience the project co-ordinators will develop a strong team of Community Learning Champions and trained volunteer co-ordinators.   And along the way, local people will get the chance to take part in informal learning classes on subjects such as gardening, arts, crafts and local history. 

Ocean Somali Community Association 

This project will give 150 women from the Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) community in Tower Hamlets and Newham the chance to take part in informal learning across a big range of different topics, including culture, dance, sport, confidence-building, gardening and healthy eating  - with a final performance of intercultural dance and song for the local community. 

SIFA Fireside 

This project will help 60 of Birmingham's most disadvantaged people, especially those who are homeless or in temporary accommodation, to learn to send emails, use the internet, develop self- confidence and build more structured lifestyles.  Project participants will be encouraged to use Birmingham's Central Library, Learning Centre, IT facilities and Health Exchange Centre.

Bolton Literacy Trust 

This project will inspire people all over Bolton to take part in exciting informal learning activities, using broadcasting to improve quality of life for local people.  The project will develop materials and guidance to follow on from popular  TV and radio programmes, so that local people inspired by art, gardening, dance and many more topics can take their passions further through self-organised learning groups and clubs. Local people will also tell their own learning stories on community radio and help others find out about learning in Bolton. The project will even develop an online directory to tell people where to learn locally. 

Workers Educational Association West Midlands 

This exciting project will develop and pilot a brand new computer course that will help people in Stoke on Trent develop their IT skills and at the same time learn more about how keeping healthy can help reduce the risk of life-shortening illnesses. 

London Borough of Camden 

This project will help deprived older people in Camden, London to improve their health and fitness by learning to use outdoor gyms in the borough's parks and open spaces. They'll be shown how to exercise safely and independently with the help of trainers.  The head trainers will in turn each train 20 local people so that the project can reach out to 400 Camden residents. 

SCAWDI – Boiled Cabbage 

Learning is fun!  Sparkbrook Caribbean & African Women's Development Initiative, aka SCAWDI, will get people to understand that learning IS for them.  A programme of activities, led by experienced community workers and trainers, will attract people from different ethnic groups to take part in everything you can think of - ranging from clay pigeon shooting, off road driving, outdoor pursuits and simulated flying all the way to quilting, rug making, fabric printing and handcrafts. Later on, there'll be visits to museums, galleries and libraries to learn about science, fashions, costumes and wider cultural associations. 

Co-operative Community Action - Nottingham 

This project will encourage Nottingham residents, mostly women from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, to find out about one another’s lives through embroidery, sewing, music, creative arts and all the skills they learned from their mothers and elders.  In the process they’ll explore other religions, languages, art forms and music.  This informal exchange of knowledge, skills and experience will have real impact on their own learning and development.

Canterbury City Council 

The Canterbury project will encourage older people who have years of parenting experience to share their skills with new parents who aren’t feeling confident or who may not have relatives of their own to talk to about all the joys and anxieties of being a mum or dad.  Older people make wonderful mentors.  Being active in their communities helps raise everyone’s awareness of how much their knowledge is needed and valued – and this kind of ‘remembering’ activity helps older people stay mentally, physically and socially active. 


This project will improve quality of life for single parent families in Lancaster through self-organised ‘friendship groups’.  Young parents will improve their confidence, IT skills and social skills by helping to develop and pilot a friendship group toolkit which will then be available to other young people across the country.  

Spitalfields Music 

Music is a uniquely satisfying medium. Spitalfields Music has won awards for its work to promote musical participation – inspiring people, developing their confidence and creating strong social bonds between all those who take part

This project will bring together people from a broad range of backgrounds in Tower Hamlets to learn music, listen to live music and contribute live music-making events, courses and workshops.



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