Big Lottery Fund
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£6.5million from Lottery reaches out to English communities

The latest round of funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme sees over £6.5 million being awarded to groups across England. Within these grants are two England-wide projects serving very different sections of society. Unlock has been awarded funding to help prisoners prepare for life after release, while Thrive will help blind people to be green fingered in their gardens.

Prisoners will be helped to overcome exclusion and to rejoin the community after release, with a £347,225 grant awarded to Unlock – The National Association of Ex-Offenders, based in Snodland, Kent. The three-year, England-wide, Unlocking Capability project will raise financial awareness amongst prisoners by providing training and assistance in money management.

Prisoners will be helped to open bank accounts, helping them to access employment and a host of services when they are released. A database of companies offering non-discriminatory insurance products and mortgages to ex-offenders will also be developed and maintained.

Julie Wright, Deputy Chief Executive, Unlock, said: “Everyone these days needs to develop personal finance skills and use financial services – like bank accounts and insurance. Most of us take these things for granted but people leaving prison tend to have limited or no skills and face financial exclusion by service providers, leading many straight back to crime.

“Unlock will help prisoners across England learn how to manage their money, operate a bank account, plan ahead, avoid debt and even open a bank account before release so that when they rejoin society they are better prepared to ‘go straight’ and play a positive part in their communities.”

The second England-wide project to benefit will help blind and partially sighted people to continue to enjoy their gardens after sight loss. Reading-based, national charity Thrive (The Society for Horticultural Therapy) has been awarded £255,774 to run its National Blind Gardeners’ Club, which helps visually impaired people to continue gardening and reap the associated benefits it brings. A quarterly gardening magazine will be produced in a variety of accessible formats along with an audio CD of information to inspire newly blind people to continue gardening. Through a series of practical road shows and gardening weekends, the project will reach people across the country, helping to reduce isolation and raise levels of fitness, confidence and independence.

Tim Spurgeon, Head of Services at Thrive, said: “100 people a day are diagnosed with serious sight loss and many of these will give up gardening as a result.  We want to make sure that people get information early enough after diagnosis so that they can carry on gardening and use it not only to help cope with their loss of sight but also to improve their mental and physical health.  

“This grant allows Thrive to provide practical workshops, information and free advice to the visually impaired gardener. It also means we can reach out to the rehabilitation officers and other relevant health professionals and promote gardening as well as developing our collaborative work with the RNIB and other local blind associations.”

Sanjay Dighe, Big Lottery Fund Chair of England Committee, said: “These awards are a perfect illustration of the diversity of the projects we are funding through Reaching Communities. The programme has been making awards for a year now and has already handed out almost £111 million, helping organisations across England to improve our communities and reach out to some of the most vulnerable groups.”

 Further information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030
Textphone:  0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

 Notes to Editors

  • The Big Lottery Fund rolls out close to £2 million in Lottery good cause money every 24 hours, which together with other Lottery distributors means that across the UK 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.
  • On 1 December 2006 the Big Lottery Fund was officially established by Parliament and at the same time assumed the residual responsibilities of the dissolved National Lottery Charities Board (Community Fund) the New Opportunities Fund, and the Millennium Commission. The Fund is building on the experience and best practice of the merged bodies to simplify funding in those areas where they overlap and to ensure Lottery funding provides the best possible value for money.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to Good Causes. As a result, over £20 billion has now been raised and more than 250,000 grants given out across the arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
  • Reaching Communities is part of the Big Lottery Fund’s portfolio of new programmes. Following an intense and comprehensive process of consultation with stakeholders and the general public over the last year, the Fund has undertaken to distribute 60-70% of its funding to the third sector.  At least one-third of BIG funding will be demand-led and lightly prescribed.  In England, this will amount to at least £600 million over the period 2005-2009. This commitment will be met from a variety of funding streams, including, Reaching Communities, Awards for All, part of the Young People’s Fund, Community Buildings, Advice Services and the People’s Millions.
  • UK-wide, the Big Lottery Fund will distribute through its new programmes and allocations funding worth over £2.6bn between now and April 2009. Regularly updated information on the Big Lottery Fund’s new programmes is available at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/publications.htm

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