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Flexible funding to meet the needs of your community

May 21, 2019

Don’t try to shape a project to fit the rules of a funding programme. Focus on what you want to achieve in your community, and the best way to do it.

Our funding programmes give you flexibility to apply for the amount of money you need to deliver your project, in a timeframe that suits you.

RyanOKane2If your idea can be delivered within 12 months then apply to our Awards for All programme for between £300 to £10,000.

If you need more time and more money, then apply to People and Communities or Empowering Young People. Grants of between £10,000 and £500,000 are available and you can choose any length of time between one and five years to deliver your project.

Awards for All supports projects bringing about positive change, improving people’s lives and strengthening community activity.

People and Communities is for projects helping people to make changes that improve their lives, and helping communities to build on their strengths and share learning.

Empowering Young People supports projects giving young people aged 8 to 25 the ability to overcome the challenges they face. These projects will enable more young people to have: the skills they need for the future; better relationships with support networks and communities; and/or improved health and wellbeing.

There is flexibility to fund a wide range of activities, it just depends on what the people in your community need.

Talk to and involve the people you want to help at every stage of your project. Their experience will help you to shape your idea into the best project to help them thrive.

We will work with you to support you to make an application. Talk to us about your project idea to get feedback and advice by ringing 028 9055 1455.

#TeamNI might be coming to a community near you

May 16, 2019

Today we are celebrating the start of The Big Lunch Community Walk 2019.

Four teams will be starting their journey today, setting off from each of the four nations across the UK. #TeamNI’s Patricia Fleming and Rory Mullan started off from The Women’s Tec in Belfast this morning.

Their route will take them to communities across Northern Ireland where they’ll hear more about the fantastic work projects and inspirational people are doing to support their communities to thrive. They will be even be stopping at a few #NationalLottery funded projects on their travels.

“The National Lottery Community Fund proudly supports Eden Project Communities’ Big Lunch initiative.  The community walk and Big Lunch weekend help to bring communities together which is fantastic.  We wish all the walkers, especially Patricia and Rory, the very best of luck for their journeys and we will be cheering them on all the way.”

Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director, The National Lottery Community Fund

The #TheBigLunch Community Walk will take place from now until 31st May and will be followed by The Big Lunch weekend on 1st and 2nd June. Keep an eye on our facebook and twitter feeds or visit The Big Lunch Northern Ireland to find out where #TeamNI will be.

#TeamNI will be encouraging people to get involved in attending or arranging a Big Lunch get together in their local area – so far nearly 600 Big Lunches are taking place in Northern Ireland.  Every year millions of people take part in The Big Lunch – in fact an average of 6 million people have joined in every year since 2014.

If you received funding from us and are arranging a lunch in your area feel free to tag our facebook page in your posts and we can share your photos to inspire others. This initiative is organised each year by Eden Project Communities and is proudly supported by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Visit to find out how you can arrange a Big Lunch get together in your own community.  You have plenty of time left to get planning.

Can your community group empower young people?

May 14, 2019

Young people are best placed to come up with the solutions to the problems they face. If your community group works with young people to turn their ideas into a project, we want to hear from you.

Our Empowering Young People programme offers grants between £10,000 and £500,000 for projects that support young people aged 8 to 25 to overcome challenges in their lives. We want to see projects that get the young people themselves involved in developing ideas, designing and running the project.

Mayfield Village Blog pic

Mayfield Village Community Association in Newtownabbey are using £70,757 of National Lottery funding over three years to support young people to become role models and take the lead in delivering activities for others.

Helen Callaghan from the group said: “The young people, aged 14 to 18, will join a certified young leaders programme to develop new skills and improve their confidence and employability.

“They’ll organise sessions for other young people in the Mayfield Village area, including games nights, dance and drama, as well as producing a community magazine and making videos for their own YouTube channel.

“Guest speakers will talk about social issues which the young people have raised, such as social media, body image and substance misuse.”

Helen has this advice for applicants: “No matter how small your project is, just go for it and apply.

“If you’re doing a project with young people, involve them in the process and listen to them. Don’t assume that you know what they want or need

“For example, our young people told us they wanted a camera to put films on YouTube. I would never have thought of this.

“Don’t feel anxious – there’s plenty of help available from staff at The National Lottery Community Fund. Really make the most of your relationship with their funding staff.

“It can be difficult to put into words what you need. Having a visit from a funding officer really helps. We brought our young people along to this meeting to make sure they were involved in the whole process.

“Applying is a positive experience – when you pull together information for the application, it makes you realise what you have achieved and can be proud of.”

We welcome applications from constituted voluntary or community organisations, and social enterprises.

We’re looking to fund projects that meet one or more of these aims:

  • More young people have the skills they need for the future
  • Young people have better relationships with their support networks and communities
  • Young people have improved health and wellbeing

Choose a grant size and length that suits your project – anything from £10,000 to £500,000 over a period of 1-5 years.

We want to make things easy for you, especially if it is a small-scale project, and we’re keen to chat to you before you even put pen to paper.

Phone us on 028 9055 1455 or email us at to chat about your project.

Or see our website for more information on the Empowering Young People programme and how to apply.

Emma Corry – Boardroom Apprentice

May 2, 2019

Boardroom Apprentice is back for the third year running! This is a chance for people from all walks of life to get involved with their community by sitting on a board. Boardroom Apprentice offers people the chance at 12 months hands on experience sitting on a board for a VCSE sector organisation, as well as training and support throughout the apprenticeship.

The National Lottery Community Fund is proud to be one of this year’s host boards. Last year we hosted Boardroom Apprentice Emma Corry, a brilliant, energetic woman who brought a fresh perspective to our board. We chatted with Emma about her experience.

“I applied for the Boardroom Apprentice as I was interested in becoming a board member but felt I didn’t have enough experience,” said Emma. “The programme gave me a great opportunity to gain practical experience and a much better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of board members.

“From the beginning I was clear that I’d made the right decision to apply. I felt lucky to be one of those selected in 2018 and to be an apprentice with The National Lottery Community Fund.”

Emma Corry

Emma has been making the most of her time as a Boardroom Apprentice

Emma was supported throughout her time as a Boardroom Apprentice by both the other members of The National Lottery Community Fund and the programme itself.

She said, “All the members of my host board have been very welcoming and supportive of the Boardroom Apprentice programme. One of the committee members was my ‘Boardroom Buddy’ which has been a great support, particularly to help prepare for meetings. And the training has been great, particularly in helping to develop my skills in analysing financial accounts.

Boardroom Apprentice is open for people of all ages (16+), all backgrounds, and all abilities. “I’ve been surprised by the range of opportunities there are on public sector boards,” said Emma. “They’re encouraging and supporting a diverse range of people to apply for board positions. The programme has been a challenge but it has all been worth it and I’ve found every session and meeting valuable.

“I really recommend that anyone interested in becoming a board member should apply for Boardroom Apprentice. It’s an amazing opportunity to gain a real insight into what it really means to be on a board and gives you the experience and confidence to apply for board positions.”

Sandra McNamee, NI Committee member for The National Lottery Community Fund said: “We’re delighted to be involved in Boardroom Apprentice again and welcome the progress the programme is making in relation to increasing and celebrating diversity at a governance level across Northern Ireland.

“Emma has already become a valued member of our committee. It’s always wonderful to have a fresh perspective and someone with a curious mind and genuine interest, to help us deliver our strategic vision of putting people in the lead to help communities thrive.”

Emma has attended business meetings, decision making meetings and is also involved in planning events, including attendance at UK Committee planning days. Sandra added: “Emma has contributed significantly our decision making. By going to staff meetings and visiting projects, Emma’s learnt more about the how funding raised by National Lottery players is helping to create stronger, more active, vibrant communities.”

“Emma’s commitment to the role shows itself in the time she invests getting ready for meetings. She always comes well prepared, and contributes confidently and articulately. She’s always willing to share her opinions. Emma is using the time to learn as much as she possibly can, and we as a Committee are learning so much from Emma. She has become a very valued member of the team. We look forward to the next few months and building upon the great work we have already achieved together.”

Great news for neighbours as Northern Ireland gets a taste for The Big Lunch

April 26, 2019

Take time to talk this summer by getting stuck in with The Big Lunch Northern Ireland. The Big Lunch will be at Belfast Spring Fair on 27 April 1-5pm at Malone House and Barnett Demesne. Come along to find out more and pick up your free pack to get you started. The Big Lunch is an idea from Eden Project Communities, made possible with money raised by National Lottery players.

East Belfast woman, Patricia Kearney, had heard about other Big Lunches in Northern Ireland over the years and wanted to do something for her own street. There was a big divide on the street between older people who had lived in the area for a long time, and younger families who had moved in within the last ten years.

Patricia said: “The older people all knew each other, and the mums sort of knew each other but their kids didn’t and nobody mixed – we were like separate communities. So I thought we should have a Big Lunch to bring all those groups together to feel like one community.”

So that’s exactly what she did! Patricia and eight other people on the street came together and got stuck in organising their Big Lunch.

The Big Lunch Kings Park21

Bring your community together with The Big Lunch.

“It was a real team effort,” said Patricia. “Everyone came out to help set up on the street. We had borrowed tables, chairs and a couple of gazebos from friends and family. The kids helped too, and then they started playing with each other really naturally. “It was all amazingly easy. We made sure it was really informal so nobody was in charge and everyone got involved together.”

The sense of community spirit extended beyond the street itself. “We invited neighbours from a local residential home to join the street party. They said they hadn’t really felt like part of the community which I thought was really sad. One of the older ladies from the residential home had her 93rd birthday on the day, and we all sang Happy Birthday to her. She said, ‘This is the best birthday party I’ve ever been to.’ I thought that was very sweet.”

Whether it’s a lunch, an evening meal or a cuppa and a slice of cake, The Big Lunch is all about getting people together and building stronger communities.

This year The Big Lunch will take place over the weekend of 1 and 2 June, to find out more visit or chat in person at Belfast Spring Fair at Malone House and Barnett Demesne on 27 April 1-5pm.