Big Lottery Fund
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Village SOS call edges closer to being answered

Twenty-eight Villages across the UK are a step closer to finding out if they will secure up to £400,000 of Lottery money to set up new community reviving enterprises and have their journey documented by the BBC for a major prime time series.

Village SOS – an initiative by Big Lottery Fund and the BBC to inspire UK rural revival – aims to fund six rural villages to develop new business ventures that will breathe new life into their areas, create new jobs and improve the quality of life for local people.

The shortlisted villages span the UK, from the Cornish peninsula to the Scottish Highlands, and have plans for a diverse range of social enterprises, including community food co-operatives, cultural heritage centres and green energy schemes.

The 28 villages shortlisted today (see link below) will be offered a development grant of up to £10,000 to develop their business proposals.

To help them, professionals – known as ‘Village Champions’ – found through a nationwide search run by the BBC and Enterprise UK, will live and work with the successful six villages for a year. BBC One will document the projects’ journey for a  six-part series which promises to be gripping entertainment for viewers as they follow the ups and downs as the Champion moves into their chosen village and work begins.

The 28 villages will be paired with a Village Champion through a unique ‘matchmaking’ conference and shortlisting process, which will see the villages interviewing potential candidates and inviting them to their villages, before choosing who to work with.

In May 2010, the final six villages will be announced and their respective Village Champions will move into the villages for a year to help them turn their business idea into a reality.

Sir Clive Booth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “While traditional rural village life is facing difficulties, we believe that many villages are sitting on a range of untapped opportunities which, with community backing, can be turned into thriving enterprises. Today’s shortlisted villages are one step closer to realising that potential and securing Lottery funding to transform the fortunes of their local area.

Alongside the Village SOS series, there will be a major learning campaign* to help other villages use the learning and enthusiasm from the programme to take a bold step towards starting a new business that will regenerate their own communities.

List of all Village SOS shortlist projects.

Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
BBC Wales Communications: Jenny Walford: 029 2032 2373
Village SOS public enquiries: 0844 88 88 677
Textphone:  0845 6021 659

Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website:

Notes to Editors

  • Twenty eight villages are being shortlisted in November to receive a development grant of up to £10,000, and will choose a ‘Village Champion’ to work with to advance their ideas. In May 2010 six projects will be awarded Lottery funding of up to £400,000 and their respective Village Champions will move into the villages for a year to help them turn their business idea into a reality.
  • BBC Wales will follow the stories of the six new rural enterprises from start up to trading for a major BBC One series in 2010.
  • *Details of how other villages will be able to use the learning and enthusiasm from the programme will follow later.
  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out half 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. 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 £23 billion has now been raised and more than 317,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
  • Enterprise UK gives people in the UK the skills, confidence and ambition to be enterprising, encouraging people to have ideas and make them happen. It is best known for running the Make Your Mark campaign, which encourages enterprising activity amongst young people, and co-founding Global Entrepreneurship Week (16-22 November), a worldwide movement of entrepreneurial people. Enterprise UK is a Company Ltd by Guarantee and a Registered Charity (Registered Charity number 1127187). For more information contact PR Manager Ochuko Adekoya on 020 7430 8028

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