Big Lottery Fund
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BIG support for those who hear voices and for diverse communities in Wales

A project to support people who hear voices in their heads and projects to highlight and celebrate the diversity of Wales’ communities are among the range of groups and organisations who shared in over £295,000 awarded from the Big Lottery Fund’s (BIG) Awards for All programme yesterday.   

A total of 80 community-based projects across Wales share in the £295,840 awarded under the latest round of the Awards for All small grants programme (link to full list of awards at the end of the release. Please contact Oswyn Hughes to obtain full project descriptions).

Thanks to a grant of £1,678 from BIG, the Visions and Voices group in Newport will be hosting an awareness event to enable people who experience auditory hallucinations (hearing voices in their head) to socialise with other service users, gain peer support and learn coping strategies. The event will run between 10:30am and 3:30pm on Friday September 14 2012.

One of the Facilitators at the event, which will be held at the Dolman Theatre in Newport, is Maria Saleem. Maria helped establish the Visions and Voices group back in 2010 and the group now has up to 15 members who meet every week to support each other. The event follows on from the success of a similar event held last year which was also funded through BIG’s Awards for All programme.

“Last year was very successful, it raised a lot of awareness and a few NHS Hospitals are looking at setting up their own voices group as a result,” says Maria, a qualified Mental Health Trainer and Counsellor.

“We just wanted to promote that further because there are new service users coming into the system all the time. It’s just keeping that momentum going. There are quite general views about what causes people to hear voices.”

“There’s a link to schizophrenia and a broad range of other conditions. But there are people who hear voices who have no mental health diagnosis whatsoever. Other people say it’s linked to trauma, but that’s not true for everyone either. There isn’t a uniform treatment which can help everyone so that’s why support and events like this is so important.”

“We hope to raise awareness of other treatments and different coping techniques which have worked for some people. We have clinical psychologists and medical experts coming as guest speakers and we hope it will encourage people to move away from the old ways of doing things and try new approaches of treating patients.”

According to Maria, many people who hear voices suffer isolation due to the stigma attached to the condition: “It diminishes their self confidence because a lot of the voices are really negative,” says Maria.

“That has a direct impact on their self esteem and confidence. Even when they do go out, they are not able to engage with other people properly because they can hear voices in their head. And because it’s linked to schizophrenia, there’s a lot of stigma attached.”

Anyone interested in attending the congress or wanting to learn more about how they can get support should contact Maria on 07975 528367 or email:

Projects which celebrate the diversity of Wales’ communities also share in the latest awards. With their award of £4,999, Cymru PRIDE Wales will host the first ever PRIDE event for North Wales which aims to bring the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and wider community together as a celebration of diversity.   North Wales PRIDE will be held between the 5th and 7th of October 2012 at Hendre Hall near Bangor with acts already confirmed including X-Factor 2011 finalists, Sami Brookes.

And with their award of £5,000, the Afghan Voice organisation will hold a series of presentations and fairs aimed at promoting cultural understanding, integration, co-operation and friendship between the Afghan community and other communities in Wales. The Pioneer Group Wales will spend their £5,000 award on providing Arabic and English language classes for parents and children in Grangetown, Cardiff, whilst in the neighbouring city of Newport, the Newport Bangladeshi Women's Association (NBWA) will facilitate a sixteen week IT skills course for Bangladeshi women in the community. The course will feature a multi-lingual translator who will assist women for whom English is not their first language.

There is also support for the vulnerable and those with learning difficulties and disabilities in Wales. A grant of £5,000 will enable the Gwynedd & Anglesey Asperger/Autism Support Group in Menai Bridge to establish a new youth club to offer support and social activities for children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders whilst the Elite Supported Employment  Agency Limited in South Wales will spend their £4,965 on delivering information sessions across the counties of Rhondda Cynon Taff, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly and Swansea, with the aim of breaking down the barriers and misconceptions that prevent disabled and disadvantaged people from obtaining paid work. And in Powys, the Powys Domestic Abuse Forum will spend the £4,390 they were awarded on running the Freedom Programme, which provides women with support to protect themselves and their children from domestic abuse.

Gareth Williams, Awards for All Programme Manager for BIG in Wales, said: “Awards for All is having a positive impact throughout Wales. Money is helping to establish groups, societies and clubs, promoting learning, increasing volunteering opportunities and helping to build stronger communities.”

Available in English and Welsh, application forms are available to download from or by phone on 0845 4 10 20 30.

Full list of awards announced yesterday 
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Audio available: Maria Saleem of Visions and Voices explains why people who experience auditory hallucinations need help and support.

Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 02920 678 207
Out of Hours Contact: 07760 171 431
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030
Textphone: 0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available at:

Notes to Editors

  • In Wales, the Big Lottery Fund is rolling out close to £100,000 a day in National Lottery good cause money, which together with other Lottery distributors means that across Wales most people are within a few miles of a Lottery-funded project.
  • The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was 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 given out across the arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

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