Christmas has come early for nine community groups in the Causeway Coast and Glens area. They have received funding as part of an announcement of £6.8million of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to 139 groups across Northern Ireland.
The National Lottery funding is being used to bring isolated people together in warm spaces, to support people struggling with the rising cost of living, and to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable people during the festive period.
One of the organisations receiving funding is Balnamore Community Association, based outside Ballymoney. They are using a £10,000 grant to run activities to bring together young and older people in the community to develop relationships and share experiences.
Mitzi Laverty, Trustee of Balnamore Community Association said: “Thanks to a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, we are bringing joy to older people in the area who are feeling particularly lonely and isolated during the winter months.
“Last week a group of local young people prepared a Christmas event for the older people – it was lovely to see their smiling faces, making connections and enjoying a hot meal with great company. This has built good relationships between our younger and older generations and will help the community move forward onto the next stage of our project where our younger people will become buddies for the older people, to mentor each other and build their self-esteem.”
Compass Advocacy Network (CAN) has been awarded a £389,150 grant to run therapeutic activities and independent living training for children and young people with learning disabilities, Autism or mental health issues. The five-year project will take place at their new premises at Lislagan Farm, outside Ballymoney, which provides an inclusive, safe space, to take part in outdoor adventure activities, horticulture, animal assisted therapy, social farming, outdoor play therapy and beekeeping. The project will also offer activities and therapies for siblings and provide respite for parents/carers.
Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million a week is raised for good causes, including Building Ballysally Together which is based in Coleraine. They are using a £10,000 grant to run activities to reduce social isolation and improve community spirit. Activities include gardening, arts/crafts and summer events and a Christmas dinner.
Ballintoy Young at Heart Club have been awarded a £7,110 grant to run events and activities to bring together older people and reduce isolation. Activities include arts and crafts, a luncheon club, a Christmas event and day trips.
Also receiving funding in the area are Benedy Community Association Limited, Dromboughil Community Association, Garvagh Development Trust, Kilmoyle Primary School and Nursery Unit, and The Regimental Association of the Ulster Defence Regiment CGC (Ballymoney).
Paul Sweeney, The National Lottery Community Fund’s NI Chair, said: “I’m proud to see the impact our funded projects are having in people’s lives and across communities in Northern Ireland. This winter is difficult for many but thanks to these projects, people are being supported to make connections and feel less isolated.
“We are supporting groups to deal with the rising costs that are challenging their services and working flexibly to ensure that National Lottery funding is continuing to reach people who need support.”
For more information on National Lottery funding visit www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/northern-ireland.