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Putting people in the lead

June 28, 2019

We want all the projects we fund to put people in the lead. But what does that mean, and how does it work in practice? We chatted to funding officer Chris McClure about what we’re looking for in applications. Chris has been working at the Fund for nine years, so has plenty of experience in what makes a great application!

“Putting people in the lead means speaking to whoever you’re trying to work with,” Chris says. “We’re flexible about how you do that. We’re also realistic about how it looks depending on the size of your organisation. But we do need to see the community involved in the project’s development. We want to fund projects developed with people, not done to them!

“Putting people in the lead is good for your project, too. Involving people in the planning stages improves your chances of reaching your target audience. Being involved in the project’s development will also help to keep people engaged with your work. The impact will last, even if the activities you’re running come to an end.”


Getting people involved in planning your project can help keep people engaged with your work

There are lots of ways to get your community involved in your project. Chris recommends finding a way that works best for your project and the people you want to talk to.

“Some groups send out questionnaires, some run focus groups. Others get people together for a cup of tea and a chat,” says Chris. “The important thing is to get people involved in a way that means you hear them.

“One of the groups I’ve worked with wanted to make improvements to their town. They set up a stall in the town centre and asked people to share their ideas that way.

“Another group I know supports young people with learning disabilities. It didn’t work for them to use surveys, so they had to adapt. They had informal conversations instead. They also included the young people’s parents and carers in the conversation.”

We also asked Chris what people find difficult about making applications.

“Some people still find our application forms a barrier. It’s hard to reflect their project in them. I’d like to emphasise that we’re always happy to chat to you about your application and give you advice and support.

“In my day to day work, I talk to groups interested in applying, in the process of applying, or who already have funding. Whatever stage of the application process you’re at, you can always get in touch and talk to us.”

To chat about your project idea, application, or any other questions you might have, phone us on 028 9055 1455 or send us an email at

National Lottery Community Fund shines a light on investment in Derry and Strabane

June 24, 2019

Today our UK board were out and about in Derry/Londonderry shining a light on some of the great projects we have funded in the city and celebrate the difference National Lottery players’ money has made.

In the past year, we have invested just over £2 million in National Lottery cash in 64 projects in Derry City and Strabane. Ranging from £922 to allow a playgroup to deliver creative activities to one of £500,000 to support young people to become health and wellbeing champions.

Board members visited organisations across the city and saw the difference money raised by National Lottery players is making to people’s lives.

One of the projects the Board visited was Liberty Consortium where they saw how National Lottery cash is helping the group support young people with learning disabilities to become more independent and confident.

They visited the group’s Playtrail site, which offers play and outdoor learning, and its HUB, which provides day opportunities for young adults with learning disabilities.

Anne Marie Donnelly, transition manager at Liberty Consortium, said: “We were delighted to host the UK Board of the National Lottery Fund and show them what a difference this investment is making to our young people.

“They got a chance to see our Playtrail site, including meeting young people gaining valuable work experience in our Tea in the Park mobile coffee shop.

“They also met young people in our HUB and saw one of their disability awareness performances. It’s amazing to see how far the young people have come and we want to say thanks to National Lottery players for making it possible.”

The UK Board also visited Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, Kinship Care and Caw Nelson Drive Action Group and Gortilea Social Farm in Claudy.

Our chair, Julie Harrison, said: “I’m delighted to welcome UK colleagues to Derry/Londonderry to celebrate our investment and to see first-hand how National Lottery money is improving people’s lives and communities.

“It’s wonderful to see that so many groups are using National Lottery funding to help communities to thrive. Like all the projects we fund, the projects that our UK Board have visited today are making a real difference to the lives of many local people.

“It’s also great to see the legacy that we have created with more than 20 years of investment into organisations across the north west and to celebrate the impact and journey over that time.

“It’s particularly timely that we have been able to see that impact as we approach the 25th birthday of the National Lottery later this year.”

Keep your funding application simple and straightforward

June 7, 2019

If you are applying to us for funding, we want to make it easy for you.

Our funding staff are keen to talk to community groups about their ideas, before you even put pen to paper.

Feel free to run your idea past us to see if we can consider funding it.

Talk to people about what is needed in your community and use these ideas to develop a project.

  • Keep it simple – gather feedback in a way that suits you and your community.
  • Include people in developing your plans and keep them involved in the project.
  • You know your project best, so we want you to fill in the form. You don’t need to get an ‘expert’ to fill it in for you.
  • The application forms are short, you just need to tell us about your ideas in your own words.
  • We often call out to see applicants and chat to them as it helps bring your ideas to life on the application form.
  • You only need to send us what is directly relevant to your application. For example, for Awards for All we only need your application form and a recent bank statement.
  • If you are unsure about anything, please get in touch and ask us.

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.

Singing and laughter for wellbeing

June 3, 2019

Living with a long term health issue can be stressful and isolating. But thanks to National Lottery players, the Western Health and Social Care Trust are helping people to find joy and laughter through their condition.

In this guest blog, they tell us more about it.

The Calm and Care: Holistic Therapy Programme is run from the Macmillan Health and Well Being Campus at Altnagelvin. The project has been using £9,600 of National Lottery funding to support the holistic needs of people living with cancer and other long term conditions.

The project, run from the Macmillan Health and Well Being Campus at Altnagelvin, delivered a range of complementary therapies as well as programmes that use laughter and singing for health and wellbeing.

These sessions helped people relax with fun and laughter, and supported people to cope with the stress and anxiety that often comes with living with a long term condition.

Blog - Guest blog Singtonicity

Singing for wellbeing: These sessions are bringing a smile to people’s faces

Siobhan Heaney, who led the singing for wellbeing sessions, said: “You can’t worry and sing at the same time! People left the sessions feeling vibrant, light and confident and with a smile on their faces. The fun experienced by everyone was infectious.”

One lady who availed of the complementary therapy sessions is 65 years old and lives with multiple long term conditions. She said: “After the session I felt normal again for a while. It was if the sessions reset me to the way I would like to be.”

So far, the project has benefitted over 100 patients and their families. Tara BoyleManager of the Macmillan Health and Well Being Campus, explained how: “The interventions available through the Calm and Care programme are have multiple health benefits for people living with cancer and long term conditions. They’ve helped to reduce physical, mental and emotional stress as well as bringing about an emotional balance. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project has made an immeasurable difference to over 100 people’s lives.”

This project was funded under our National Lottery Awards for All programme, you can find out more about it here.

Flexible funding to meet the needs of your community

May 21, 2019

Don’t try to shape a project to fit the rules of a funding programme. Focus on what you want to achieve in your community, and the best way to do it.

Our funding programmes give you flexibility to apply for the amount of money you need to deliver your project, in a timeframe that suits you.

RyanOKane2If your idea can be delivered within 12 months then apply to our Awards for All programme for between £300 to £10,000.

If you need more time and more money, then apply to People and Communities or Empowering Young People. Grants of between £10,000 and £500,000 are available and you can choose any length of time between one and five years to deliver your project.

Awards for All supports projects bringing about positive change, improving people’s lives and strengthening community activity.

People and Communities is for projects helping people to make changes that improve their lives, and helping communities to build on their strengths and share learning.

Empowering Young People supports projects giving young people aged 8 to 25 the ability to overcome the challenges they face. These projects will enable more young people to have: the skills they need for the future; better relationships with support networks and communities; and/or improved health and wellbeing.

There is flexibility to fund a wide range of activities, it just depends on what the people in your community need.

Talk to and involve the people you want to help at every stage of your project. Their experience will help you to shape your idea into the best project to help them thrive.

We will work with you to support you to make an application. Talk to us about your project idea to get feedback and advice by ringing 028 9055 1455.