By Lucy Gollogly
When we asked you to nominate groups for our 10th birthday competition in the summer, we were bowled over by the stories that you told us about how groups we’ve funded had changed lives or transformed communities.
We announced the 10 winners of £10,000 in October. But due to the quality of the nominations we received, we are delighted to announce that we have been able to award nine groups grants of £2,000 each to run vitally important projects.
HURT, who are based in Derry/Londonderry and support people with addiction issues, are one of the runners-up, receiving £2,000 for an arts project.
Sadie O’Reilly, HURT coordinator, said: “Art is really therapeutic for anyone, and for people living with mental health and addiction issues it is especially beneficial. Our clients find it really relaxing – it’s making a huge difference. The art pieces they are producing are absolutely beautiful, (right) and we are planning on having a showcase of all their work next year.”
Although the project has only been running for a few weeks, Sadie said people were already getting so much out of it.
One woman who uses the service said: “I felt I was no good at art. But after I finished the first class I was on top of the world – I couldn’t wait until the next one.”
Another man said: “Even though I had never done anything like it before, the two hours went in so quickly. I’m going to paint a canvas for my room.”
Brain Injury Matters, who support people with acquired brain injury and their families, also scooped a £2,000 prize. They will use the money to provide physical activities for people with an acquired brain injury led by a sports and neuro physiotherapist. Fiona McCabe, chief executive officer said: “We are very grateful for this award. The prize money allows us to extend our personal training programme to those living with brain injury in our community and we were delighted to be selected.”
North Belfast based Cancer Lifeline, who work with people affected by cancer, are another of the runners-up. They will use the grant to run counselling sessions. Founder Bernie Montgomery said: “This project will bring significant positive changes to the lives of vulnerable people in north Belfast who are struggling to cope with a cancer diagnosis.”
Cruse Bereavement Care, who support people across Northern Ireland affected by bereavement, also received £2,000. They will use the money to train 15 volunteers to provide telephone support to people who have lost loved ones. Director Anne Townsend said: “We’re delighted with the award and for the opportunity to extend services for bereaved people in Northern Ireland. We appreciate all the support that the Big Lottery Fund has provided to Cruse over the past 10 years.”
Another of the runners-up are Belfast-based Here NI, who support lesbian and bisexual women across Northern Ireland. They will use the money to run peer support groups in the community to increase confidence and self esteem. Project coordinator Cara McCann said: “This money will help us to continue to reach the most marginalised and isolated lesbian and bisexual women and their families across Northern Ireland. They will have a chance to take part in healthy social activities such as bowling and personal development sessions.”
Fellow runner up Kilcronaghan Community Association, who are based in Magherafelt, will use the money to run classes and courses for local people. As part of the project, people will work with an artist and sculptor to create a piece of ceramic art that will then be put on display.
Positive Futures, who support people with a learning disability, acquired brain injury and autistic spectrum conditions across Northern Ireland, were another of the lucky runners-up. They will use the money to build on an existing project, Better Futures, to help older carers in north Down and Lisburn establish a steering group. Agnes Lunny, chief executive of Positive Futures, said they were delighted to receive the grant: “With this award, we will continue to work with Big Lottery Fund and older carers to secure sustainable support for carers and their families in the future.”
Start360, who provide support services to young people, adult offenders and families in the community, were awarded £2,000 for an event that will explore the issue of intergenerational crime with both younger and older people.
Anne-Marie McClure, chief executive of Start360, said: “Start360 would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund for awarding us this prize money. We’re looking forward to carrying out the piece of intergenerational work with people who may not have had that experience in the past.”
And The Cedar Foundation, who are based in Belfast and provide short breaks for families caring for a child with health problems, won a £2,000 award. They will use the money to buy tablet computers to develop the children’s communication and social skills during the trips.