Lottery Fund is looking for partners

THE Big Lottery Fund is looking for an award partner to deliver a multi-million pound programme that will bring communities in Northern Ireland together by making better use of local spaces and places.

The fund launched the £15 million Space and Place Programme which will support projects that make better use of new and existing outdoor and indoor spaces in local communities, particularly those that are not used enough, are overgrown and neglected, or are seen as only for use by certain groups.

An example of the type of project that could be funded through the programme is the community walkway, sports area and community venue that has helped tackle anti-social behaviour and vandalism in the rural village of Dromara, Co Down.

Dromara Primary School, based in the village, has used around £1 million in grants to turn a derelict nearby field into a hub of activity community activity featuring the community centre and sports arena. They have also used the funding to turn an overgrown, neglected area used for underage drinking running along the bank of the River Lagan near the school into a scenic walkway for the local community to enjoy.

School Principal Stanley Poots explained that the new facilities and improved outdoor spaces have helped improve life for people of all ages in the local community. “We first started work on this project back in 2000,” said Stanley. “At the time the village was having problems with a group of young people who were hanging around causing trouble.

“They were just hanging around on the streets, drinking and shouting at passers-by and generally intimidating local people because they had nowhere to go and nothing to do. So we wanted to try and change the attitudes of these young people by giving them a space where they could go to have fun.

“There was a field adjacent to the school that hadn’t been used for years and was overgrown and neglected. We felt the school could use it for the good of the local community, and things started to develop from there.

“We got various amount of funding from the Big Lottery Fund, Lisburn City Council and the Department of Agriculture. And we turned the field into these fantastic facilities for everyone to use.The community centre is used every day for a range of activities including arts and craft classes, mother and toddlers groups, a club for older people and yoga, while we encouraged young people from the area, including those considered troublemakers to use the pitch for free.”

Stanley explained that the river walkway has also proved a big success. “The walkway is about 1 km and we have turned an ugly, overgrown site beside the Lagan where young people would drinking and case trouble, into safe, beautiful path for everyone to use,” he said.

“The work we have carried out has transformed life for the local community. Crime and anti-social behaviour has dropped dramatically. In the past when we put up the Christmas tree in the centre of village up it would have been stripped down within 24 hours, but for the last two years there has been no vandalism and this is a nicer, safer place to live.”

To find out more about applying to be an award partner that will deliver the Space and Place Programme, visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk or contact the Big Lottery Fund NI Information Team at enquiries.ni@biglotteryfund.org.uk or on 028 9055 1455.

The programme could fund a project to create a community garden and allotments in the grounds of a community venue, or a project to turn a derelict area into a mini park with cycle paths and walkways where people can meet and enjoy their local spaces and places.

Organisations interested in applying to be an award partner for this programme must complete an Expression of Interest form and submit it to the Big Lottery Fund by noon 21 March 2011.