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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.

The Big Lunch – grab a chair and something to share.

April 18, 2019

Guest blog by Grainne McCloskey, Northern Ireland Manager for Eden Project Communities

The Big Lunch is a nationwide celebration of community spirit, initiated by the Eden Project and partnered by National Lottery Community Fund, is celebrating its tenth year and in Northern Ireland we want to get as many little gatherings happening as possible, because when we take time to chat it can make all the difference.

Everyone who registers at will enter a fortnightly draw to win support packages to help you get started. The packages include store vouchers, gazebos, seeds to Grow Your Own lunch, bunting, and lots of lovely treats to motivate more neighbours and groups to give it a go in Northern Ireland. The draw will take place fortnightly and you only need to register once to be entered into all the giveaways. Winners will be announced on The Big Lunch Northern Ireland Facebook page weekly from beginning of May.

Founder of Eden Project, Tim Smit, started The Big Lunch as a simple idea. When describing this event he said it was, ‘one day a year when, for a few glorious hours, cars would stop, shyness evaporate, gloom lift, and people come together in the street to meet, greet, share, swap, sing, play and laugh for no reason other than that we all need to. Everything counts from a few neighbours to a load of lovely locals getting together, whether you claim back your lunch break at work, host a BBQ or take to the street or a local shared space your participation and the time to talk is what counts.’

This light hearted initiative is bringing people together, helping build friendlier stronger more sustainable communities where people know one and other. It’s also a great chance to share ideas and celebrate living local and everyone can take part by doing something small at home at work or part of a community of interest. The free Big Lunch pack can be downloaded or posted out. It’s packed full of ideas and tools to get you started, there is even a cuppa of Pukka tea to help fuel the thinking. The pack is waiting for you and funded thanks to National Lottery players and available while stocks last at

Recent research highlighted only 1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland know their neighbours which has a knock on impact on services, sharing tools and resources and on the likelihood of people having someone local to turn to when they need them. We can all change that by taking time to talk so try The Big Lunch for starters.

Find out more and get your FREE pack at

And if Art & writing are right up your street…..
Tell us what community means to you and you could win £100

To find out more email or visit The Big Lunch on Facebook

Develop a project to help your community to thrive

March 26, 2019

Develop a project that meets the needs of your community by getting people involved from the start.


“Your community” can mean people in a geographic area, or people with a common purpose.

Talk to people about what is needed and use these ideas to develop your funding application.

Build on the strengths that are already there – such as the lessons learned from previous work and people’s knowledge and skills.

Continuing to involve people gives the community ownership of the project and keeps it on track.

To apply for funding, you need to be set up as a group with a written constitution or set of rules, and a bank account in the group’s name.

  • You don’t need to be a registered charity but the group needs to operate on a not-for-profit basis to benefit your community.
  • It’s okay if everyone in the group is a volunteer. Some of the groups we fund have staff working for them, and others don’t.
  • Connect with other groups in the same area to see the bigger picture and how you fit in. It will help avoid duplication of services and identify opportunities for sharing resources and knowledge.

If you are applying to us for funding, we want to make it easy for you. We have a range of grant sizes to suit your needs and are keen to talk to you about your ideas, even before you put pen to paper.

You can phone our office on 028 9055 1455 to talk to a funding officer, or if we are out and about in your local area you can meet up with us for a chat.

Check our Facebook and Twitter feeds to find out when we are in an area near you. See our website for information on funding available in Northern Ireland.

Are you seeking funding of between £300 – £10,000 for your project? Read on…….

February 27, 2019

Hello from all of us at The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland. There’s just over a month to go until the end of this financial year so you are probably thinking about getting some funding for your project idea.

Our most popular programme, National Lottery Awards For All, may be worth a look if you are seeking funds to cover a 12 month project.

National Lottery Awards For All can fund voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations. As well as, schools and statutory bodies.

The programme can cover the costs of projects that have been designed and developed by communities to improve people’s lives and strengthen community activity.

Check out our website to find out more about the types of activities we can fund.

In December, we received 73 applications from groups all across Northern Ireland.

We couldn’t review 15% of the applications because they weren’t complete.

Most of these had not been signed by the contacts named on the form or did not have all of the information we require for the contact people included within the application.

Make sure your application is complete by triple checking the following:

  • Two contact people must be included on your form (three if your organisation is a registered company).
  • Your contacts must hold one of the specified positions/roles listed on the form.
  • These people must sign your form and provide their home address and data of birth.
  • You sent us a recent bank statement with your form. This should be for the account you would like us to pay your grant into.

There are no closing dates for National Lottery Awards For All, so you can send us your application at any time. It normally takes us between 6-8 weeks to review your form so consider this when you’re deciding on your project start date.

We want to hear your project ideas so feel free to contact our team on 028 9055 1455 or by email at if you would like to chat about your plans or get advice from us.

Good luck!