Skip to content

Lottery funding for projects Empowering Young People across Northern Ireland

October 27, 2016

Three projects across Northern Ireland are celebrating today after receiving funding from Big Lottery Fund’s Empowering Young People programme. Oasis Caring in Action is using a £600,000 grant for Antrim Youthways, an alternative education programme for young people aged 12-19 in the Antrim area. Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Access for Success project, which is working in Omagh and Derry/Londonderry, is using the £595,804 grant to support young disabled people aged 18-25 to improve their well-being and become more involved in their community. Off the Streets’ FATE project, which is working in Derry/Londonderry, is using the £599,635 grant to work with young people aged 8-25 who are having problems at home or school.

Oasis Caring in Action’s project is helping young people who are facing issues including bereavement, bullying, caring responsibilities and eating disorders that can affect their education. Paige Floyd (17) is one of those who has been helped by the group to turn her life around.

Paige Floyd at oasis Caring in ActionPaige, from Antrim, had started life in care until she was adopted as a toddler and those early years left an impact. Three years ago she found herself struggling in school, getting in trouble and feeling lost. Then her beloved mum, Rosemary Lindsay, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and Paige had to return to care temporarily.

But with support from Oasis Caring in Action, she’s got her education back on track, rebuilt her relationships and moved back home.

“In secondary school, I was really troubled and quite difficult. I had bottled everything up from my past and it became too much to handle. I became angry and felt like everyone was against me. My behaviour was out of control,” Paige said.

Paige’s parents had divorced some years earlier and she continued to live with her mum. Around the time of her behaviour issues, her mum was diagnosed with lung cancer. Paige was terrified she was going to lose her.

“I was trying to keep my mum happy. I was getting myself up in the mornings then helping my mum get dressed and get breakfast. Some nights I hardly slept because I was constantly worrying about her and worrying that I would have to go back into care as well, because there is only my mum and me.”

While her mum was ill, Paige did have to return to care temporarily. She was living in a foster home when her teachers advised her to go to Oasis Caring in Action. There she received the support she needed to get back on track with her education including one to one and group support.

“The first year, I had some ups and downs but the staff at Oasis saw potential in me. I decided to put my head down and work well in my classes there. I developed a bond with my key worker, Jenny and I have a lot of respect for her. I worked hard and came out with good qualifications,” Paige said.

“I got a lot of positive comments from everyone and that wasn’t something I was used to in education. I finally started to feel like I was getting somewhere in life.”

With support from Oasis, Paige gained seven GCSE equivalents and has earned three more since. The keen footballer is currently completing a Sports Studies Diploma at the North Eastern Regional College in Antrim.

Rosemary’s cancer went into remission and the support they both got from Oasis helped them to build up their relationship again.

Rosemary said: “Coming along to the centre with Paige for the health and wellbeing classes gave me an opportunity to meet with other mothers whose children found it hard to cope in school. Over a cuppa we were able share stories and support each other. Sometimes Paige joined us for craft activities like making jewellery, and our relationship steadily improved.”

Paige moved back home with renewed hope for the future. She is now training as a young leader at Oasis, helping out as a mentor with the new five year Big Lottery funded Antrim Youthways project.

Paige said: “I love working with the younger people coming through Oasis. Some of them look up to me because I have come so far. I explain to them how it was with me and they find that very inspirational. I am excited about my future for the first time, and I am so proud at this moment in my life.

“My mum is over the moon for me too. I’m learning to drive and if and when I pass my driving test I’ll be taking the 0asis staff out and treating them. I feel like they’re part of my family now.”

Pamela Shields, Antrim centre manager with Oasis Caring in Action, said “Paige is an amazing young woman who has excelled on the programme and transformed her life. Together with Paige and the other young leaders, Oasis Caring in Action Antrim are excited to move into a new era, knowing that this new funding from Big Lottery Fund will allow so many other young people in our community like Paige realise their potential and move into education, employment and get involved in the community again.”


Grants for arts and culture projects in Derry/Londonderry

October 19, 2016

The Acorn Fund’s Legacy Grants recently opened for applications. Grants of up to £3,000 available for community and voluntary groups in the County Derry/Londonderry area for innovative arts and culture projects.

Orlagh Dooley took part in the Celtronic workshops

Orlagh Dooley took part in the Celtronic workshops

Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, the grants are part of the Acorn Fund’s City of Culture Legacy programme and are available to projects that use arts and culture within their communities to create social networks, encourage talent, develop skills and bring people together.

One group that benefitted from the last round of funding is Collaboration Derry 2016. They received funding for the Music City and Celtronic Festival 2016 in Derry/Londonderry to pay for volunteer expenses and to book a music facilitator to work with young people in a series of workshops in the new Celtronic Studios.

Music City and Celtronic 2016 was a 12 day celebration of music of all its forms across the city of Derry from June 29th – July 10th. Celtronic Studios is a state of the art electronic music studio which held workshops during the festival.

Gareth Stewart, organiser of the project funded by the Acorn Fund, said: “The electronic music scene is quite male dominated, and there are very few established female DJs and producers involved and getting the chance to perform at events. We decided to address this issue by getting young female musicians, producers and DJs to take part in workshops in Celtronic Studios with leading Irish DJ and producer Phil Kieran.

“Over the course of the project, they produced two new electronic music compositions, one of which was premiered on Electric Mainline on BBC Radio Foyle during the festival. We hope those who took part in the project will be inspired to become further involved in the electronic music scene and forge career paths in the industry.”

Orlagh Dooley, 24, took part in the Celtronic music workshops. Orlagh is from Derry/Londonderry, but moved to Liverpool after attending university there.

Orlagh goes by the artist name Or:la is an up and coming star in the electronic scene – she recorded a mix for Ministry of Sound last year and has an EP coming out in November. Orlagh comes back to Derry/Londonderry to play gigs and was home for the Celtronic Festival when she took part in the workshops and was mentored by Phil Kieran.

Orlagh said: “The studios are amazing, I was able to use equipment that I don’t normally have access too. I’m usually making music in my bedroom with a laptop and two monitors.

“It was great to work with Phil Kieran, and he was able to guide me and give me tips for my own music. I’ve always been musical, I played a few instruments when I was younger but I got into electronic music when I started going to clubs and electronic music events in Derry. I then got into DJing and started producing my own music when I moved to Liverpool.

“Music is my passion and I was inspired by taking part in the workshops with other young girls and women who hope to make it in the industry.  I’m doing well at the minute and I hope to have a successful   career in it.

“At the moment there are more musical opportunities for me in Liverpool than Derry so it’s great that funding is being put into the music scene here to help young people.”

To find out more about Or:la please visit her Facebook page or Soundcloud

Watch a video about one of the workshops at Celtronic Studios 

The Acorn Fund Legacy Grants programme is open until 15th November 2016. For more information on the funding available please visit

These grants are part of the Acorn Fund’s City of Culture Legacy programme, which received funding from Big Lottery Fund.

Acorn Fund is open for applications

October 12, 2016

Are you a community and voluntary organisation working in County Derry/Londonderry?

The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Acorn Fund has re-opened with grants of up to £3,000 available for innovative arts and culture projects.

Community and voluntary groups in the County Derry/Londonderry area are eligible to apply for projects that use arts and culture within their communities to create social networks, encourage talent, develop skills and strengthen inclusive activity.

The grants are part of the Acorn Fund’s City of Culture Legacy programme, which received funding from Big Lottery Fund.

Shauna Kelpie, Development Officer for the Acorn Fund pictured with Faustina O'Hagan and Eamon Nugent from Liberty Consortium, one of the community groups across County Derry~Londonderry that have benefited from one of the Acorn Fund's funding programmes.

Shauna Kelpie, Development Officer for the Acorn Fund pictured with Faustina O’Hagan and Eamon Nugent from Liberty Consortium, one of the community groups across County Derry~Londonderry that have benefited from one of the Acorn Fund’s funding programmes.

Stage Beyond received a legacy grant in 2015 for a touring production of Rashomon, a Japanese influenced play performed by adults with learning difficulties.

Describing their experiences one of the participants said: “Acting with Stage Beyond changed my life. The people who called me names growing up now speak to me and understand that I was different because of a learning disability.”

The Acorn Inspire Bursaries programme will also open on October 18 for applications. Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, grants are offered to young people with disabilities to help them pursue training in their chosen arts. Successful applicants will receive mentored support during and following their award period from the Acorn Fund, and will in turn act as mentors for future bursary recipients.

Shauna Kelpie, Acorn Fund Development Officer said: “I’m really encouraging groups, organisations and individuals from across County Derry to apply for these grants. We’ve already seen how a small amount of funding can make a real difference to local communities and we’d like to support more projects that are focused on encouraging creativity and giving people the opportunity to celebrate, explore and showcase their talents.”

Frank Hewitt, the Big Lottery Fund’s NI Chair, said: “We are delighted to see the impact that the Acorn Fund’s Legacy Grants programme is having by supporting a range of diverse and exciting projects that are making a real difference to people’s lives. This funding is helping groups to continue to build on the legacy of the UK City of Culture.”

More information on all Acorn Fund grants can be found on  

The Acorn Legacy Grant fund will close on 15th November 2016.


Northern Ireland groups have lots to celebrate

October 5, 2016

Today groups across Northern Ireland are sharing in £105,300 from our Celebrate programme. A total of 23 groups are using grants of £500 to £5,000 to run their own events or activities that allow people to celebrate what makes their local community special. (Click here to see who has been funded in your area)

Here are some examples of projects which have been funded:

Newry Rainbow Community supports the lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the Newry area, improving their quality of life and confidence. They are using the £4,175 grant to provide a St Valentine’s Gala Ball in February for the LGBT community and their families and friends. It includes a Pride in Newry Awards ceremony to celebrate what has been achieved in the first five years of the pride in Newry festival.

Tollymore United Football Club provides football, volunteering and other opportunities for all ages in the Newcastle, Co Down area. They are using the £5,000 grant to provide an Opportunity Knocks meets X Factor talent event in February at Pierrots Bandstand on Newcastle’s promenade for the enjoyment of local people, where regular talent shows were held up until the 1970s.

174 Trust was set up to provide a range of activities and support to a range of groups in the north Belfast area. The project is using a £4,850 grant to bring different people, communities and traditions together in north Belfast to celebrate their musical, artistic and cultural heritage.

Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership provides a range of programmes in the Waterside area of Derry to improve education, health and work prospects. They are using the £5,000 grant for an inclusive and diverse two day St Patrick’s Day celebration in the local area. It will include cultural, music and art events for the whole community, and especially to bring young people and older people together.

Brocagh After School Club Ltd, based on the shore of Lough Neagh, near Dungannon, provides after school facilities for children in the community of Brocagh and surrounding areas to enhance their social skills. They are using the £5,000 grant to present a show – The Lough Neagh Monster – for the whole community to increase the children’s confidence and celebrate community spirit.

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said: “Today’s Big Lottery Fund grants celebrate what’s special about individual communities across Northern Ireland. From arts festivals to cultural activities and fun days, these events will bring people together to volunteer, have fun and meet more people in their area.

“I am delighted to see such a wide range of groups sharing in these awards, and I look forward to even more communities celebrating and benefiting in the future.

“Organisations should submit their applications as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. The closing date for applications is 21st October 2016.”

La Dolce Vita project – #A4ANI funded.

September 29, 2016

A group helping domestic violence survivors in Derry/Londonderry is one of those benefitting from a grant from Big Lottery Fund.

La Dolce Vita Project, recently received a £10,000 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. The group advocates for domestic violence victims, and provides a variety of understanding and non-judgemental support services and advice.

It is part of a Big Lottery Fund grants roll out of £34,660 to four groups in the Derry area.

The La Dolce Vita project provides support services to those who have been affected by domestic violence. They are using the £10,000 to help provide a dedicated venue for activities.


Mother of three Donna Maria Logue (38) originally founded it as a Facebook group from her bedroom in January 2016 after suffering a long history of domestic abuse.

“I always had self-esteem and confidence issues growing up. Domestic abuse played on and worsened those issues and today I am still challenged by its lasting effects. With the La Dolce Vita project I realised quickly how many others were like me.

“I went back to my abuser after physical and mental abuse incidents 37 times. I lost myself and did not know who I was any more. I only heard his voice and his words and I believed them. I felt like a ghost. It got to the point where my life would be taken from me if I didn’t take it back into my own hands, so I had to leave.


“You learn in domestic abuse to say nothing, the stigma is so great. I am an educated woman who worked in accounts, kept fit, owned my own house and car. Why would it happen to me? And yet it did.


“During the most difficult times as I remained in the abusive relationship I got up in the middle of the night as my abuser slept. I started to write. I kept journals and drawings examining situations and my thoughts and feelings. I think this is what saved me. I was learning from it. I wrote notes to myself, and kept them in my pockets to remind myself that one day I would be out of this.”

It took a team of dedicated workers from Foyle Women’s Aid, Dawson House, social workers and doctors to support Donna Maria. But over the years, she noticed gaps with services that needed to be filled. She was encouraged by other women she knew in similar situations to set up a support group for other people in abusive relationships.

From when Donna Maria first set up La Dolce Vita as social media group the demand for support from all over Northern Ireland has been high. Lots of people came on board to help. The Awards for All grant is providing set up costs for charity’s new premises at 13 Queen Street, Derry/Londonderry.

“La Dolce Vita Project has been a life-line for those who remain in the relationship, in empowering them to make changes for their own safety,” Donna Maria said.

“It is scary to open up and even today I still have things to work on. I hope talking about my own experiences, as difficult as that is, empowers others to take their lives back.”

Donna Maria Logue is launching the Domestic Abuse Awareness Campaign on Monday 3 October 2016, which will involve public discussions, talks, workshops, and street collections.

People interested in getting support can check out La Dolce Vita’s Facebook group: