First grants from Ethnic Minority Communities Pilot Programme

Over the last two years we’ve been working closely with groups and individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to co-design a pilot funding programme.

The aim of this was to identify and overcome barriers to funding, develop relationships, create opportunities to bring about change and ensure National Lottery money is supporting people from ethnic minority communities in Northern Ireland.

We’re pleased to have now awarded over £500,000 of grants to 18 organisations, ranging from £500 to £50,000. These projects are helping people integrate into different cultures, reducing racism, bringing people together through sport and celebrating cultural diversity. Download full details of all projects funded.

The Erne District Chinese Families’ and Friends’ Association in Enniskillen has been awarded a £10,000 grant to organise activities and events for the local Chinese community to integrate, reduce isolation and connect with their heritage, culture and language. 

We involved people from a diverse range of ethnic minority communities from the very start of planning this pilot, which helped us develop the best application processes and identify what barriers there were for groups applying to us.

One of the groups funded is The African and Caribbean Support Organisation NI (ACSONI) who received a £49,024 grant to build resilience within African and Caribbean communities in Northern Ireland and promote diversity and inclusion to actively reduce racism.

Omer Osman, Business Manager, Takura Makoni, Policy Officer and Dr Livingstone Thompson, Chairman of ACSONI

Omer Osman, Business Manager, ACSONI said: “Applying for funding is usually a complicated process that requires time, effort, and planning but we found the staff at The Fund really helpful, and they made the process run smoothly for us.

“We’ll use the grant to run events to introduce the African and Caribbean culture to the wider community, host public talks and promote community dialogue.

“Importantly, we’ll also be able to spend more resources addressing the barriers and daily challenges for members of our community and provide support to address systematic racism.”

We wanted to encourage genuine participation. We made our process as inclusive as possible by including community representatives on the decision-making panel which awarded the funding.

Ineke Houtenbos, an advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland was one of the people who worked with us on the co-design and decision making for the pilot.

Ineke Houtenbos

Ineke said: “I’ve lived in Northern Ireland for 20 years and I’ve seen how the demographic is becoming more multi-cultural, but not everyone sees that as a positive. I want to be part of bringing communities together and ensuring that people meet each other in a place of empathy and celebration rather than focusing on division. That has motivated me to share my knowledge, expertise and insight with as many people as possible to get the conversation going around Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

“When I heard about The National Lottery Community Fund’s pilot, I was excited to get involved as it was exactly what I’ve wanted to see happening in the sector. I always think about who is represented around the table when we are making decisions about our communities, our services and our future. 

“Diversity isn’t just about ethnicity, it’s about all lived experience – acknowledging and appreciating how they can intersect. All of those things influenced our discussions around the table when we decided who was awarded the funding. We learnt from each other, from the questions people asked that others wouldn’t have thought of, to challenging and understanding different points of view – that is the power of having a truly diverse and inclusive team working together – it was great.

“This pilot scheme is a step in the right direction and hopefully it will inspire others to think beyond the ‘tick box’ and embedding EDI in everything they do. It was a great process to be involved in and an amazing experience for me, to not only be able to use my voice to make a difference, but also to improve my knowledge which will help me support ethnic minority communities in the future.”

We are now supporting the 18 organisations who have been funded to get their projects up and running and build relationships with other grant holders, so they can support each other and build real change together.

Paul Sweeney, The National Lottery Community Fund’s Northern Ireland Chair, said: “National Lottery funding is for everyone and this pilot has been important to make sure that our programmes are open and accessible. It has been exciting to co-design this pilot and over the next year we will work with the funded organisations to capture the learning and impact.

“As part of reviewing our grant making we are also having conversations across Northern Ireland and getting feedback about what matters to all communities, which will all also be used to help inform the direction of future funding.”

For more information on having your say on our funding visit:

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