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Time to Shine – an Intern’s Insight

October 19, 2018

Applications are now open for Time to Shine, an internship programme that gives people from all walks of life the chance to work with voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations making a real difference to their local communities. This year, the Rank Foundation is using money raised by National Lottery players to fund four internships across Northern Ireland.

Since 2010, 120 charities and 225 interns have taken part in the programme. We chatted to Laura Cloughley, 25, who interned for Oasis Youth, part of the Community Intercultural Programme (CIP), back in 2017.

Laura had been a volunteer with Oasis since its foundation in 2010. Thanks to Time to Shine, she was able to get the experience she needed to make that jump into paid work in the community sector, and since her internship finished she’s taken on a full time, paid position at Oasis.

Laura said: “I heard about Time to Shine through Andrew McCreery, the Youth Co-Ordinator at Oasis. Andrew knew I had been looking to start my career in the community sector, so when he discovered the Time to Shine internship he thought it would be a great opportunity for not only myself personally, but also Oasis.”

Andrew could see the potential in Laura from early on in her involvement with the group. “I can remember the first conversation we had with her about the potential for her to become part of the CIP on the internship,” he said. “We could see hope rising within her that this was her chance to be employed with an organisation she loved and had devoted so much time to over the years.”

During her internship, Laura brought her own personal experiences to her work.

“Oasis wanted to spend more time developing their volunteers and recognising their achievements,” she explained. “As I had been volunteering from the beginning, they thought I would be best suited to working on this.”

But it wasn’t just her experience as a volunteer that Laura brought with her to her Time to Shine internship.

“From a young age I have struggled with anxiety and more recently depression and I always thought these issues would have been more of a hindrance than a help in any of the employment opportunities I’ve had,” said Laura.

“I’ve been able to use my experiences and my own research to deliver mental health workshops to young people; spotting the signs and symptoms, importance of self-care, what different mental illnesses are. Young people are more open around me in terms of their own mental health and I feel very privileged to be in that position.”

For both Laura and Andrew, what really sets Time to Shine apart is the support that participating organisations get from the Rank Foundation.

“The Rank Foundation staff are invested in you and your intern right from the beginning,” said Laura. “Unlike other internships I’ve completed before, the Rank Foundation are in constant communication with you; support is always readily available.”

Andrew agrees: “The unique thing about Time to Shine was support that they offered. They workshops and seminars they ran were exceptionally high quality. They gave us the opportunity to spend a few days networking with other organisations from across the UK, and we’re still using those important links and contacts.”

Thanks to the Time to Shine internship, Laura’s confidence has sky-rocketed. “I’ve always struggled with believing in myself and Time to Shine helped me to reflect on my own practices and realise that, in the least arrogant way possible, I am good at what I do and I am good at my job!”

But as well as personal gains for Laura, Oasis and the CIP have benefitted massively from taking part in Time to Shine.

Andrew said: “By taking part in Time to Shine, we increased our number of volunteers and improved our services. Our volunteers also had the opportunity to develop personally – we’ve seen some of our district’s most marginalised people develop their confidence and flourish into leaders and activists who are championing the rights of their own communities.

“Through Time to Shine our organisation has taken a step forward. We can move into the future with confidence about our long term sustainability.”

And what would Laura’s advice be to groups thinking of applying to Time to Shine?

“I would say without a doubt to go for it!” said Laura. “You have nothing to lose by applying for a Time to Shine intern it would greatly benefit not only your own organisation but staff within your organisation too.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Rank Foundation is able to support more VCSE organisations to host their own intern. If you think your organisation would benefit from taking part in Time to Shine, email Helen Stockdale at the Rank Foundation for an application form:


Or, if you’d like more information on Time to Shine and the application process, check out our blog post:


Applications close on 26th October 2018

Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum

October 16, 2018

When Derrick Park’s wife died suddenly in 2015, his life came to a startling halt. Like many older people who’ve lost a loved one, the 80 year old veteran spent most days by himself, following the same old routine. Now thanks to National Lottery players, Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum has helped Derrick find a new purpose in life and new friends to share it with.

“I come from Darlington originally and moved to Northern Ireland in 1956,” said Derrick. “A year after I moved to Northern Ireland I met a girl, Margaret, and we got married three years later in 1960. We had four children, eight grandchildren and 54 wonderful years of marriage together until 18 February 2015.

“Margaret had a brain haemorrhage and died. It was a shock – I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“All I did was go out in the car every day, just like a zombie, like Groundhog Day – going for a run in the car, coming home, reading the paper, then going to bed.”

Derrick’s daughters were worried about him and decided to research some local clubs for him to get involved in. His youngest daughter Una came across Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum which received almost £250,000 of money raised by National Lottery players last year. The money is being used for the +Five-0 And On The Go project which is reducing social isolation and improving health and wellbeing for people over the age of 50 in the Newtownabbey and Antrim area.

Although Derrick needed an initial push to walk through the doors, since then he hasn’t looked back.

Derrick’s found his spark again

“Coming to this club is companionship for a start – I was accepted straight away and then naturally you make friends. I’ve only missed two Tuesdays in the last two years. Great bunch of lads, good conversationalists, good laughter.

“We go on little trips together, somebody organises an activity or brings in a person to give us a talk. It’s interesting, it keeps your brain active, and I would miss it if it was not here.

“I come to an art class on a Monday as well, which I’m not very good at, but I enjoy the craic. The lads do a spot of singing when we’re painting, and we have a good laugh about that, plus you get a free cup of tea!

“I like my trips away too. We were in the Punjana tea factory a while ago, we’ve been to museums, and I’ve been on day trips to Portrush, Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum are making a real difference to the lives of older people. They’re able to take up new hobbies, make new friends, and find a new lease of life. For Derrick, being part of the club has given him back his spark.

Art classes, trips out, and even a free cup of tea are all on offer

“I really look forward to getting up, getting out and coming here. The main thing is its company and once you’ve got company you can tell your ails to somebody else and they might put you on the right track. I feel very lucky.

“My daughters say they have noticed the difference in me too. They were worried about me, I think, but now my children have to make an appointment to see me and they say my life is far better than theirs.”

To find out more about the Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum, including news about upcoming events, check out their website:


Orchardville Society

October 8, 2018

Thanks to National Lottery players, young people with learning disabilities can access support to prepare for their move from school to the next phase of education, training or employment.

The Connect project, run by the Orchardville Society, is funded through Big Lottery Fund’s Empowering Young People programme. It offer personalised training, work placements, and support and encourage independence, confidence and employability for young people with learning disabilities in the Greater Belfast area.

Beth McKinty, now 21, first got involved with the Orchardville Society back in 2014. Thanks to their fantastic work together, Beth has learnt new skills and boosted her confidence and self-esteem. She’s even succeeded in going on several work placements – giving her the valuable experience she needs to transition into adult life.

Beth’s mum, Sian, said: “Beth has two older sisters, so they’re her role models. My husband, Hugh, and I wanted to give Beth as much freedom in making her own choices about her future as we did with the other two. Although she has a learning disability Beth’s very sociable and very aware of what she wants to do and she’s also watching her two older sisters.

“That’s daunting because you know she needs to be protected, you know that she’ll not take the same route and you’ve got all of those emotions flying about – in a perfect world you’d like them all to follow the same pathway in their own way. We know that isn’t going to happen with Beth.”

A dedicated transition officer has worked with Beth and her family during the past two years. Sian said: “As parents you’re worried because you don’t know what the future holds. Beth will always need support, but we want her to have a real sense of her own achievements. Orchardville were able to give us advice and say, ‘these are your options’.

“The transition programme has been helping Beth with training courses and getting her into work placements, and it has also been stretching us as parents. It has helped us start planning for Beth to take public transport, maybe stay in the house for an hour on her own, things like that. The transition programme helps us look ahead and plan.

“What they have done to me as a mummy has been amazing because it’s opened my eyes as to what is out there for Beth.”

The Orchardville Society received £600,000 in 2016 to continue their brilliant work, and thanks to National Lottery players they’re able to continue helping young people like Beth make the move from school to adulthood.

Margaret Haddock, Chief Executive of the Orchardville Society, discussed what impact the funding has. She said: “This funding will change not only the lives of the young people but also the family network around them. We are excited to be able to work with young people to provide a service which will allow them to make informed choices on the direction for “life after school”. We cannot wait to work in partnership with the young people and assist them achieve their goals.”

Got a question for us? Maybe this will help…

October 8, 2018

We are out and about working in local areas across Northern Ireland more now than ever before.  Our team are always on hand to answer your questions about what we do, what we can fund and how you can access funding for your project. Here are some of the questions our team get asked frequently:

Who are Big Lottery Fund?

We are the largest distributor National Lottery good causes money.  Every time you buy a National Lottery ticket you are supporting communities across the UK.  National Lottery players have generated £38 billion for good causes since 2004.

At Big Lottery Fund, we distribute 40% of this money by funding.  We fund health, environment, education, community projects that have a charitable purpose.

There are other National Lottery distributors operating across the UK.  They all have different areas of focus for their funding i.e. art, heritage, sport etc. Further information on these distributors can be found at

What type of projects do you fund?

We fund a very wide range of projects. Generally we can fund community based projects that focus on improving people’s lives and surroundings through the provision of education, health, environment and charitable activities.

We believe people should be in the lead when improving their lives and communities. We focus on the potential in people’s ideas, and on the skills and energy people already have that they can draw on. We ask what matters to communities, not what’s the matter with them.

We are interested in ideas that:

  • Involve people from the community right from the start – we want them to be involved in the development, design and delivery of a project.
  • Bring people together and strengthen relationships in and across communities.
  • Encourage people and organisations to work together to make a difference in their community.

How can my group apply?

Have a chat with the people in your community and shape your project idea with them.  Decide on what your project will do, how, who will it benefit and how much money you will need.  Visit our website to find out what funding is available in Northern Ireland.

Big Lottery Fund NI

What have you funded in my area?

To find out more about what we have funded you can use the grant search facility on the website.

How can I find out more?

Our team are regularly out and about meeting with groups in community venues across Northern Ireland.  You can find out where they’ll be by following our Facebook (@BigLotteryFundNI) and Twitter (@BigNIOnline) feeds.  Our website has information on all of our programmes but if you would like to chat to us directly about your project idea we are more than happy to talk to you.  You can call us on 028 9055 1455 to chat with our team. You can also keep up to date by signing up for our ebulletin

We love to hear from you so if you have any questions for us please get in touch and we will do our best to answer you as quickly as possible.  You can leave a comment below or feel free to drop us an email at  You can also get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter.

5 Top Tips on Getting Funding For Your Project

October 8, 2018


1 Find the Right Funding Programme for You 

When developing your project, speak to the people you are working with and listen to what they tell you.  Ask them about what matters to them and find out what strengths they can bring to the table that would help others. You could also chat to their families, the wider community, local community groups and similar organisations you might work with. Projects tend to be more successful when communities are involved in them from the very start and remain involved during the life of the project.

Once you have an idea for a project Visit our website to find out what funding programmes we have available. Remember that we may not be the best funder to support your project idea so having a look at other funders will help you find the best funding option for you.   You might want to speak to other National Lottery Funders or chat to helper organisations like NICVA or Rural Community Network to find out what other options are available.

2 Shape Your Idea

If you feel that your idea fits with the aims of our funding programmes, give our team a call on 028 9055 1455.  Our team are now out of the office more and more working in areas across Northern Ireland, so you can invite us to meet up with you and have a chat a coffee.  We will work with you to explore how your project idea has been developed alongside your community, how it will utilise and build the strengths you have and how you will work with other organisations.  If you plan to work in partnership with other organisations we are happy to meet with all of you.

You don’t need to have your project idea finalised before you get in touch with us, but it will help if you have an idea of what you plan to do as this will allow us to have a detailed chat with you.  We will let you know if your idea is something we could consider or not.  You are welcome to have a chat with us as often as you like.  If your idea is something that would not meet the aims of our programme we will do our best to refer to a more suitable source of funding.

3 Develop your project budget

When you have your project idea decided, you’ll start to look at what costs will be involved in bringing it to life.  It is always good to do some research into the average costs for items that will help your idea to become a reality. Make sure you include all costs relating to your project i.e. facilitators, equipment, materials, rent, salaries, publicity, merchandise…  Chat to the groups you hope to work with – are there any staff, volunteer, equipment or venue resources you could share? This will help you to keep costs down and build on the strengths that people in your community have and are willing to share.  Ask someone to have a read through your final budget plan to make sure everything is included and it all adds up correctly.  It’s also a good idea to double check the amount requested falls within funding limit of the programme you are applying to.

4 Complete your application form 

We have found that it’s always better to complete the form yourself as the passion and drive you have for your project will shine through.  You are the best person to tell us how your community and partners will support you in making your project a success and how you plan build on the great things that are already happening in your area.  Use your own words to write about your idea – there aren’t extra points for buzz words or funding lingo.  This is your opportunity to tell us all about your project and how people you work with were involved in developing it.  It is always a good idea to ask someone who is not involved directly with your project to read your application form to make sure they can understand your idea fully.

5 Send your form to us

When you’re sending us your completed application form, double check that you have included any additional information that is requested.  We will send you an email or letter to confirm that we have received your form.  If you don’t receive anything from us please call us on 028 9055 1455 to check we have received your application.    When we are assessing your application, our team will chat to the person who completes the form if they need any further information.  It’s important that this person knows your project plan in detail and how the idea was developed.  We want your project to be successful and wish you the very best of luck in your search for making your dream a reality.

We love to hear from you

We hope these tips will help you to get funding for your project and that you found them useful.  We love to hear from you so if you have any tips you would like to share with others please get in touch with us and let us know.  You can leave a comment below or feel free to drop us an email at  You can also contact us on Facebook page or Twitter