Today we’re launching an exciting competition that celebrates 10 years of the Big Lottery Fund – and we need your help. We want you to nominate a group that has changed your life or transformed your community for the chance to win £10,000 to carry on their good work.
Ten grants of £10,000 are on offer and you can nominate any group funded by us in the past ten years, telling us how they’ve made a difference to you. You have until Friday 22nd August to complete a nomination form. You can download a form, and find out more details, on our website.
Since 2004 the Big Lottery Fund has awarded £302 million to 7,000 groups across Northern Ireland to support a huge range of projects helping communities and people most in need.
Lottery funding has helped people like young mum Megan Sweeney, 25, transform her life. The Derry/Londonderry woman was a 17-year-old schoolgirl when her son was born. But despite the challenges of teenage motherhood, she went on to graduate from university and forge a successful career.
When she became pregnant with Christian, now 8, Megan admits she felt daunted. But she was thrown a lifeline when her health visitor put her in touch with a Big Lottery Fund supported project for teenage mums in Altnagelvin Health and Social Care Trust. “At that time, I did feel alone and it was really good to have the support network around me of people in the same situation,” she said.
“There is a lot of negativity surrounding teenage pregnancy. But this group was always so positive – it really motivated me and kept my spirits up,” she added.
The group gave her the push she needed to stay in school, and go on to study French, Spanish and marketing at the University of Ulster’s campus at Magee. “If you wanted to make a career, and make a life for yourself, they encouraged you to keep going. The message was: having a child isn’t going to get in your way.”
Megan uses her languages as a European sales executive for Foyle Food Group. Christian too is thriving – and speaks fluent Spanish after two years living with his mum in the small city of Guadalajara, just outside Madrid where Megan taught English and fitness classes. “I couldn’t be any more proud of him – he’s a great wee man,” Megan said.
Read the full story in the latest edition of BIG magazine