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Celebrating 25 years of National Lottery with Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum

November 11, 2019

For the past two years, The National Lottery Community Fund team in Northern Ireland have been out visiting groups across Northern Ireland more than ever before. We had the opportunity to

visit Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum (NSCF) earlier this year to join in with their celebrations for 25 years of the National Lottery.

NSCF received just under £250,000 funding, raised by National Lottery players, for their +Five-0 And On The Go project. The project reduces social isolation and improves mental health and wellbeing for people over the age of 50 in the Newtownabbey and Antrim area. They have various activities running weekly that range from bowling and boccia to walking clubs and line dancing.

To mark the quarter of a century celebrations, NSCF held a very special bowling tournament at Lilian Bland Pavilion in Glengormley. Joanie Arthurs, Mark Baine, Jerome Grace and Bronagh Diamond (otherwise known as team Crossed Fingers) from our office stopped by to join in.

40 people from seven different groups divided into seven teams to compete in a friendly (but competitive) games of bowls. Bronagh Diamond, Communications Officer for The National Lottery Community Fund, told us:

“There was a lovely celebratory atmosphere, and everyone was in great spirits. The sun was also shining which is a rarity for Northern Ireland. After the first matches were played, everyone got together for some tea and cake and a good chat. It was amazing to hear how much of a difference NSCF’s work has made to people’s lives.”

Telling us more about the project and the impact it has on people’s lives, Robert McQuiston, Project Coordinator, said;

“The funding we receive not only enables us to change lives but, in some cases, save them.

“The result of taking part in our project has not only had a positive effect on the physical health of our participants but also their self-esteem, social life and general wellbeing.

 

“We have also had feedback from family members and friends of our participants saying how it has been a great relief to them, removing the stress of worry and knowing that the project is having such a positive effect and seeing the changes it has made to their mother, father, friend etc.

“To celebrate the National Lottery’s 25th Anniversary we organised a Bowling Tournament in Lilian Bland Park Bowling Pavilion. The event was support by teams from Antrim, Randalstown, Newtownabbey and a representative team from The National Lottery Community Fund.

 

Big thanks from all of our participants to the National Lottery Players, without whom projects like ours would not be possible.”

If you are interested in finding out more about Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum and the +Five-0 And On The Go project visit their website.

Dormant Accounts – What we’ve heard so far

November 6, 2019

We launched the consultation on Dormant Accounts funding three weeks ago and have been impressed by the positive reaction to the news and how many of you have been in touch.

We’re delighted that many organisations from across Northern Ireland have already registered to attend our consultation events and we’ve received almost 30 offers to host and convene roundtable events for specific organisations and sectors.

These sessions started in late October and more are planned between now and Christmas. Our first major event at Mossley Mill on the 13th November is now fully booked.

We’re already seeing the breadth and diversity of the VCSE Sector reflected in the conversations we’re having and the responses we’ve received to date.

Here’s a flavour of what we’ve heard so far:

  • We’ve heard a lot about the challenges presented by one-year funding and how securing funding for longer than this could help many organisations.
  • There’s no clear picture yet on how large or small grants should be – although we’re hearing more from organisations about the need for smaller, more flexible grants for three to five years.
  • We appreciate that we need to explore various funding models to ensure that Dormant Accounts can achieve its aim to support a resilient and sustainable sector. Many of our conversations to date have touched on this – with mixed views on grants versus loans and how much funding should be made available through each. We’re continuing to listen to your feedback and insights on this issue.
  • We’ve received positive feedback about our ability to assess and manage grants made under the Dormant Accounts Fund.
  • We’ve also heard that flexibility is needed in terms of what the money can be used for – some responses have talked about the challenges some organisations face when there are funding restrictions around salaries. We’re also hearing a bit about staff/volunteer burnout in organisations that feel they are constantly ‘firefighting’.

It’s important to reiterate that Dormant Accounts funding is not the same as National Lottery funding. The policy directions state that this funding ‘should benefit the third sector in Northern Ireland, through projects/work primarily delivered by Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations to increase capacity, grow resilience and encourage sustainability’.

We’ve also been asked if statutory bodies such as Councils can apply. While VCSE organisations need to apply and be the lead in any applications to the Fund, they can work in partnership with statutory or private bodies.

We will continue to discuss all these points over the next few weeks. But there are a few areas that we want to explore in more detail.

Next steps

We know that while we want Dormant Accounts funding to meet the needs of a diverse sector, it cannot be all things to all people.

So with that in mind, we want to know what are the two or three main things Dormant Accounts funding could do that would have the greatest impact?

And if Dormant Account funding achieved its aims of increased resilience, capacity and sustainability, what would the third sector look like in five years’ time?

We would love to hear your feedback on these questions and those outlined in the consultation framework.

Here’s how you can get involved: · Review the framework and share your views, thoughts and comments – send them to us at dormantaccountsni@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk

Come along to one of our events – To book a place, email us at least one week before your preferred event.

Please let us know if you have any specific access or dietary requirements.

We still have space at the following events:

  • Enniskillen, Killyhevlin Hotel – 27th November – 9.30-1.30
  • Craigavon, Civic Centre – 2nd December – 12.30-4.30
  • Derry-Londonderry, Guildhall – 12th December – 9.30-1.30

If you want to bring people from your area or sector together then you can organise a roundtable event. Please let us know, and we can come along and help make this happen.

Customers get together for fun “market stall” event in Limavady

October 24, 2019

“Good event, enjoyed the friendly informal atmosphere.”  “This was excellent, more of this would be great.”  “Great session all round!”

This is just some of the positive feedback we received after our recent “market stall” event, held for National Lottery Community Fund grant holders in the Causeway Coast & Glens, Derry & Strabane and Mid & East Antrim council areas.  Based on what the grant holders told us – they wanted to meet up with other groups to share learning and make connections – we organised an event to enable them to do this.

WIN_20191004_13_25_15_ProOver 65 organisations were invited to attend an event in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady.  They were offered the opportunity to host a “market stall” where they could showcase their work.  Again based on grant holder feedback we held a session on evaluation and how to showcase your project and highlight its impact.

We had a number of excellent keynote speakers from funded projects, who talked about their work and highlighted the many inventive ways they have found to effectively carry out evaluation.  Garvagh Development Trust and On Street Community Youth each shared their amazing films, both of which brilliantly highlight the impact of their work.

Catherine Taylor from Be Safe Be Well gave a really moving talk on how they try to capture the impact of their Men’s Shed.  Whilst it is easy to showcase their amazing creations, it can be difficult to capture the greatest impact, that of improved mental health.  She described how they have found ways to do this by using things like Becks Depression Inventory, personal testimonies, videos and blogs.

WIN_20191004_13_26_25_ProThere were also some expert tips and advice on evaluation from our Knowledge and Learning team.  Our website has a new Insights & Evidence Library where you can search and access reports and evaluations from other grant holders across the Fund.

We would love for grant holders to send us their learning so we can share it! Current topics we’d particularly appreciate learning on include:

  • loneliness
  • climate change; &
  • youth voice.

A top tip on evaluation came from Eileen McKibbin who talked about the importance of evidence being useful to the organisations themselves and how evaluation should focus on what matters to them and not try and fit it into “a box” of what they think the funder wants.

Speaking about the event, Michele Loughrey from Causeway Rural Urban Network (CRUN) said: “It was a super event, we met lots of new groups accessing funding and we have made a few links already to develop initial contacts from the day.  Many thanks for organising.”

Karin Eyben from Garvagh Development Trust who gave a really insightful presentation on how they have developed some innovative ways of evaluating their project said: “I was just blown away by the diversity of what has been funded, with a common theme of investing and trusting in creative ideas and fantastic people. Definitely do that again.”

And as we are coming up to the National Lottery’s 25th birthday, we couldn’t resist taking a crossed finger selfie to say thanks to all the National Lottery players!

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We would love you to get involved with our crossed finger selfie on Tuesday 29th October too.  Here’s how you can:

  • Gather a few people together and take a selfie with everyone posing with crossed fingers. You may want to get a few volunteers, staff, community members together.
  • Write a short message thanking National Lottery players for supporting your group to do the fantastic work you do. Include the hashtag: #NationalLottery25
  • On Tuesday 29thOctober, post your message and crossed fingers selfie on your social media channels.

Please remember to tag us in your posts!

Facebook: @TNLCommunityFundNorthernIreland 

Twitter: @TNLComFundNI

Why should you involve your community in your funding application?

September 24, 2019

We believe that people understand what’s needed in their communities better than anyone else. We want to ask what matters to communities, not what’s the matter with them. By tapping into the strengths, talents and energy already in your community, you can make your project stronger and more likely to succeed. It’s also great evidence that the work you want to do really is important to the people you’re supporting. 

Here are our answers to your top questions on involving your community in your application. 

  • What do you mean “your community”? 

In most cases we mean people living in your local area, but it could also be a community of people based around a common interest or issue – for example people in the LGBT+ community, people with dementia, or young carers. 

  • How should we involve our community in planning and running our work? 

We’re flexible about what involving the community looks like for different groups and different communities. Some groups send out surveys, some run open days – others set up steering groups or bring more community members onto their board or committee. Others just make sure they have regular chats with community members, either in person or on social media. 

Whatever method works best for your community, we just want to see that your project is based on what your community thinks is important. It should include their suggestions and ideas, and they should be able to stay involved as the project goes on.

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Find ways of talking to people that work for your community

  • Do we need to involve the community in planning the specific thing we are asking you to fund? 

In most cases, yes, we want to know how you’ve involved the community in planning the activities we’ll be funding. For example, if you were running healthy eating classes for families, we’d expect you to have talked to families about whether this is something they’d want, and how you’d deliver the activities. 

  • What if we just need to fix the village hall roof / buy a new piece of equipment? 

We don’t expect you to have asked the community about the nitty gritty details of fixing the roof! But your application should show us why the hall is important for your community and how you know this. Maybe your committee or membership includes a wide range of community members, and this issue constantly comes up at meetings and open days. Or perhaps most of the community groups in your area are run from the hall, making it vital for the area. If so, tell us! 

The same applies equally to a piece of equipment, or anything else that might sound difficult to justify in isolation. Let us know why the things this will let you do are important to your community and how you know this. 

As ever, if you have any questions at all then just drop us a line. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have about getting your community involved in your project. 

Email us at enquiries.ni@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk or phone us on 028 9055 1455. 

You can also talk to us on social media: @TNLCommunityFundNI on Facebook and @TNLComFundNI on Twitter. 

6 Dos and Don’ts for your Funding Application

September 19, 2019

Writing funding applications can be stressful, but they don’t have to be! We’ve pulled together six top tips to make the application process easier.

  • Start early 

Start your application in plenty of time before you would like to submit. This gives you time to do your research, get people involved in designing your project, and gather the information you need. A great application takes time, and the more preparation you do, the better.

We recommend working backwards from the time you need the money by – and don’t forget to account for the time it will take us to process your application!

  • Focus on how you’ll use the grant 

This sounds obvious, but make sure your application concentrates on what you’d like to use the money for! A little background on your organisation is worth including, but don’t fill your application up with history and existing activities. This is especially true for smaller applications (usually those under £10,000).

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Make sure your application focuses on how you’d use your grant

  • Use clear language 

Tell us about your project as if you’re explaining it to a friend. You don’t need to use lots of jargon or buzzwords – in fact, the less of those, the better! You’re the expert on your project – we want to hear about your work in your own words. Ask a friend who is not involved in the project to check your application – they will be able to tell you if it’s written clearly.

  • Keep it factual 

Of course, we want to know why you want to run the project and why it’s needed. But all too often people forget to include the basic facts, like:

  • Where the project will happen;
  • What activities are involved;
  • When they’ll happen;
  • How many people will be involved; and
  • How much it will cost.

Make sure your application covers the facts!

  • Check, recheck, and check again 

No matter how good your project is, we can’t process it if your application isn’t filled in correctly! When we receive applications that are missing vital information, it takes time to rectify. This causes extra work and delays. Double check your application before you submit. Ask a friend to read over it for you – a fresh pair of eyes can often spot things that you might have missed.

  • Talk to us 

If in doubt, give us a shout! It’s easier than ever to talk to us – just drop us an email or pick up the phone and chat to someone in the office. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about your application, or to chat with you about what funding might suit your project. Email us at enquiries.ni@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk or phone us on 028 9055 1455.

You can also talk to us on social media: @TNLCommunityFundNI on Facebook and @TNLComFundNI on Twitter.

Keep these tips in mind and take the stress out of your funding application!