Big Lottery Fund
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£12m lifeline for vulnerable facing fuel and food poverty

On average during  each of the last five years at least 7,800 people have died due to living in cold homes.*

A £12million Big Lottery Fund initiative will help vulnerable people to keep warm this winter, safeguard their homes against extreme weather, and reduce their risk of falling into fuel and food poverty.

Twelve projects across England have each received up to £1million each from the Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably initiative which is focused on inspiring people to reap financial, environmental and health gains by adapting the way they live and work and connect together.

Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund England Director, said: “We have a bold ambition for this fund – we wanted to fire the imagination of local communities to think of creative ways to make sustainable living simple, easy and feel like second nature as well as being relevant to the most vulnerable to reduce their costs and improve their quality of life.

“With adverse weather affecting crops globally – which is likely to cause an increase in food prices in UK supermarkets** - and with fuel bills predicted to rise this winter, these successful projects show what’s possible when local communities are encouraged to take small steps, use their own resources and make the most of opportunities on their door step to make sustainable living real whilst helping people cope with these added pressures during the recession. These projects shine a light on the possibility of a green future for all communities across England.”

In the Manor House area of London, the Manor House Development Trust (MHDT) has been awarded close to £1 million to bring individuals and communities together to build their resilience to fuel poverty. The project will help local people to gain new skills, improve their prospects and make good use of their underused local green spaces.

Simon Donovan, Director of MHDT said: “The Manor House community is one of the most deprived areas in London. For years residents have been blighted by unemployment and worklessness, poor health and educational attainment and lack of social amenities and green space.

“Fuel poverty is amongst London’s worse - the percentage of fuel poor households as high as 22.1 per cent compared with the London average of 13.3 per cent*** - yet the area is made up of under-utilised but beautiful green spaces.

“But Manor House is changing. This £1 million investment will enable the community to self-organise to collectively tackle these issues creating jobs, investing in future green and environmental skills, creating volunteer and community organisation opportunities.

“Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund the Manor House communities will have the opportunity to completely re-invent the way they and those looking in from the outside perceive the area as it becomes a green, sustainable and truly desirable place in which to live and work.”

Working with Groundwork Kent and Medway and other local voluntary partners, Swale Borough Council receives just over £946,000 to support the community of the Isle of Sheppey to make greener choices, use their resources more effectively and develop new skills. One of the innovative aspects to the project is working with HMP Standford Hill to convert the prison’s waste cooking oil into bio-fuel to use in the prison and sell to local businesses. Community volunteers will be trained to become ‘Green Doctors’, and visit vulnerable people and advise them on how to make their homes more energy efficient. It’s estimated that 1,900 households will save up to 1 tonne of CO2 per year and make significant reductions to their utility bills.

Also receiving funding is the Sunderland Black and Minority Ethnic Network, which has been awarded close to £1 million to work in some of the most deprived and ethnically diverse areas of Sunderland to tackle fuel poverty, bring people from different backgrounds together and raise awareness of the many financial and health benefits of sustainable living. As part of their work they will introduce a ‘garden swap’ scheme, where people without a garden will borrow a corner of a neighbour’s where they can grow their own food, in return for helping them maintain it.

While in South Manchester, the Willow Park Housing Trust will use £1 million funding to maximise use of Wythenshawe’s unused green spaces and 300 allotments to create secure food sources. It will also work to help the 6,676 homes in the area in fuel poverty. The project will particularly target young people, social housing tenants, hospital patients and unemployed people and encourage them to get involved in their communities and seek advice and support. A food growing hub will be established, cooking classes will be run and a FareShare depot will be set up to distribute locally grown produce to vulnerable people.

Supporting the groups each step of the way will be a partnership, led by Groundwork UK and including BRE, Federation of City Farms, Energy Savings Trust and nef. It will offer advice and guidance and also establish a learning support network to capture and share learning with other communities and inform the future development of investments of BIG’s Sustainable and Resilient Communities strategy. (

Communities Living Sustainably is part of the Big Lottery Fund’s £50m Sustainable and Resilient Communities strategy, which aims to encourage behaviour change among individuals and communities so they can cope better with the environmental, economic and social impacts of a changing climate. Vulnerable people, including those on low-incomes or older people, are less likely to cope with the negative effects of climate change such as floods, heat waves or severe cold weather.

A full list of awards announced yesterday 
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Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572
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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.
  • * Fuel Poverty Action
  • ** British Retail Consortium
  • *** Department of Energy and Climate Change

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