Big Lottery Fund
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Lottery scheme boosts happiness more than income rise

The Big Lottery Fund’s (BIG) £160 million Well-being programme has led to an increase in life satisfaction more than three times greater than would be expected if someone was to double their income.

People taking part in Well-being projects have reported an increase in life satisfaction from 6.3 to 7 on a ten point scale. To put these scores into perspective, evidence suggests that on average, even if a person’s income were to increase by 100 per cent, life satisfaction scores would only be expected to rise by 0.2.

Other headline figures include a 13 per cent rise in the number of people eating five portions of fruit and veg a day amongst users of Well-being funded projects while there has been a 30 per cent drop in the number of adults reporting symptoms of depression. Amongst those aged over 65, this drop was greater – at 56 per cent.

The Year 4 evaluation, carried out by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and the New Economics Foundation (nef), has surveyed 3,204 people who are taking part in over 50 projects. The latest findings are being unveiled today (Tuesday) at BIG’s Well-being: Health Check 2012 conference. The final report will be available in autumn 2013.

Launched in 2006, the Well-being funding programme is investing £160 million of Lottery money into projects across England aimed at improving people’s mental health, increasing their levels of physical activity and encouraging them to eat more healthily. These projects range from befriending schemes to exercise classes, gardening, cycling and cooking classes – a host of things for local people of all ages.  

In London, the Cockney Sparrow project has helped to bring local residents together improving the sense of community. The project works with residents across the Peabody estates to improve open spaces, develop community action plans and engage residents to improve green spaces, which then attract wildlife.

In Luton, the Let’s Get Cooking project provides cookery activities for families including cooking, hygiene and nutrition sessions, and encourages families to eat more healthily while in South Lakeside, AGE UK’s Fit as a Fiddle project has provided a variety of activities for older people including armchair aerobics which has been particularly successful in improving physical mobility.

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said “It is great to see so many examples of the Big Lottery Fund’s investment in community-based Well-being projects sustaining their impact well beyond the life of our grants. The latest survey findings demonstrate the positive difference that can be achieved when people are motivated to get active and look after themselves. I want to see the lessons from our ongoing evaluation influencing the design of community health activities way beyond the specific projects we have supported.”

Saamah Abdallah, Senior Researcher at nef. said: “These results demonstrate the effectiveness of the holistic approach of the Well-Being Programme. By thinking about well-being in the round, the Big Lottery Fund has been able to achieve real change in people’s lives. For example, we found that it was projects that were able to increase people’s life satisfaction in the short-term that were the most effective in increasing physical activity and healthy eating in the long-term.”

The Well-being: Health Check 2012 conference is being held at the Big Lottery Fund’s Newcastle office, 2 St James’ Gate, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. NE1 4BE between 4-5 September.

For a copy of the latest findings, please visit

Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website:
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Notes to Editors

  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG 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 June 2004 BIG has awarded over £4.4bn.
  • The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £28 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
  • Income satisfaction scores based on analysis of the 2004 European Social Survey data for the United Kingdom.
  • To arrange an interview with Saamah Abdallah at the Centre for Well-Being at nef, please contact Carys Afoko:
  • t: 0207 820 6322 m: 0787 596 6955 e: