Big Lottery Fund
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Over £3 million in Big Lottery funding for two UK projects

A UK-wide environment project and an initiative that will put together a practical body of evidence to help beat domestic violence are two projects receiving grants from the Big Lottery Fund.

Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), led by Imperial College London, is a partnership that has inspired communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local environment for over six years all over England.  It aims to create a new generation of nature-lovers by stimulating interest through local and national projects which are accessible, fun and relevant to anyone who wants to take part.

Thanks to a new award of £3 million from the Big Lottery Fund, OPAL will now be able to roll out its activities to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The OPAL-UK project will work with 100,000 people over three years helping beneficiaries to engage with the natural environment, in ways they are not currently able to and to learn about biodiversity, pollution and climate change.

OPAL began in 2007, since then, more than 50,000 surveys have been submitted and this information has been shown to play a powerful role in understanding and responding to environmental change. OPAL is open to everyone, and over 750,000 people have taken part in the OPAL programme so far, discovering more about the outdoor environment where they live and work.

Particular focus is put on engaging people from the most disadvantaged communities who traditionally have less access to natural spaces of good environmental quality. OPAL surveys have already provided the first scientific samples from some of England's most deprived urban areas.

Linda Davies, Director of OPAL, Imperial College London, said: “We are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for the faith they have shown in OPAL and for their continued support. This new award will allow the successes OPAL has had in England to be taken into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“The environmental challenges we face today are transnational problems: threats such as climate change and invasive pests and diseases like ash dieback respect no national boundaries. They call for a collective response that draws on both scientific expertise and local knowledge. This new award will allow us to better understand the impacts of our changing environment across the United Kingdom and how best we can respond as a society.”

Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund said: “It is well recognised that we as a society are becoming less connected to the natural environment. More and more people live in cities. This disconnection is causing well documented negative impacts, including loss of physical and mental well-being, and a loss of skills, knowledge and understanding related to the environment. The grant to OPAL aims to redress the balance, enabling people across the country to get close to the wonders of the natural world which sustains us all.”

Tackling another serious social issue is a project by Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) awarded £295,000 from the Big Lottery Fund. CAADA is a national charity supporting a strong multi-agency response to domestic abuse.

CAADA provides practical tools, training, guidance, quality assurance, policy and data insight to support professionals and organisations working with domestic abuse victims. The aim is to protect the highest risk victims and their children – those at risk of murder or serious harm.

The Lottery funded Shared Insights, Shared Outcomes programme will improve outcomes for victims of domestic abuse by putting evidence from service users at the heart of practice, commissioning and policy.

Diana Barran, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity CAADA said: “We’re absolutely delighted to receive funding from the Big Lottery Fund for CAADA’s Shared Insights, Shared Outcomes programme. Domestic abuse remains a huge social problem, affecting 1 in 4 women over their lifetimes as well as being a major risk to children and young people.  Despite this it remains one of the most under-funded areas of need in the UK, reflecting in part the lack of evidence about what works to address it. The programme will change this by creating a national body of practical evidence about “what works” for victims, with the overall aim of reducing domestic abuse and increasing effective investment in the sector.”

CAADA will implement CAADA Insights with 65 domestic abuse charities throughout England and Wales.  This will provide participating charities with a unique body of practical evidence, that in conjunction with dedicated support from CAADA can be used to develop and improve their services, and support them in demonstrating their successes and impact on victim safety to commissioners.

CAADA will also seek to develop partnerships within Scotland and Northern Ireland, to support the development of Insights materials for use within these areas.

Peter Ainsworth added: “While domestic violence continues to blight the lives of so many vulnerable people, it is important to pull together the evidence and the experiences of those affected to ensure that best and most appropriate support is provided. CAADA’s project has a great potential to change things for the better for many victims of domestic abuse across the UK.”

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Notes to editors

• The Big Lottery Fund, 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.
• The Fund 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 its inception in 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6bn.
• 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 £30 billion has now been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

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