Big Lottery Fund: Putting people in the lead

Big Lottery Fund: Putting people in the lead

Monday, April 3, 2017 Posted by James Walker
Joe Ferns: ‘We are currently testing more local approaches to grant-making’

The Big Lottery Fund is supporting community initiatives across the length and breadth of the country.

One of the UK National Lottery’s 12 principal funding groups, the Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Since June 2004, the group – which operates as a non-departmental public body – has awarded more than £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.

Last year, the Big Lottery Fund awarded £583 million and supported around 12,000 projects across the UK. And according to Joe Ferns, UK knowledge and portfolio director for the group, 2017 will see a continuation of funding applications which put people in the lead, supporting them to make a difference in their local communities.

“Every year we distribute millions of pounds of the National Lottery’s good cause money to community groups and charitable projects around the UK,” Ferns told “Most of our funding goes to local charities run by local people and volunteers. We also fund long-term projects, tackling some of the most difficult and stubborn challenges communities face.”

The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for awarding 40% of all lottery funds raised for good causes in the UK. Discussing the funding award process, Ferns said the group works closely with organisations to understand how they will use the proceeds to drive positive change for their communities.

“Most of our funding is distributed through open, responsive programmes, and our experienced funding staff make the vast majority of our grant decisions,” he explained. “We believe strong, vibrant communities can be built and renewed by the people living in them, making the most of their strengths so they’re ready for anything in the face of future opportunities and challenges.”

Ferns said the Big Lottery Fund works to highlight the positive impact National Lottery funding makes and how it supports worthwhile projects and causes across the UK.

“We are always looking for opportunities to talk about the great work our grant-holders do,” said Ferns. “We are unique because we’re able to award such a significant amount of funding to good causes across the UK. It’s important for people playing the National Lottery to know that even when they don’t win, they are helping to change lives.”

He added: “We work with Camelot and other National Lottery distributors to tell the story of the difference lottery funding makes to people and communities. The People’s Projects is a great example of this. Delivered in partnership with Camelot and ITV, the initiative gives people across the UK the chance to have their say on which local groups should receive additional funding to develop their project further. It also showcases a range of outstanding community projects in the process.”

Looking ahead, Ferns said the Big Lottery Fund will continue funding initiatives that put people first. “We are responding to the needs of our applicants and organising our ways of working around them,” he said.

“We are currently testing more local approaches to grant-making that will see our staff located closer to the communities we are serving. We are also making our funding processes simpler and more flexible, ensuring we are responsive to the varying needs of those we’re seeking to support.

“Money raised by National Lottery players will continue to empower communities to respond to challenges and opportunities, develop happier and stronger relationships with each other, and create change that has a lasting impact.”

Totally Gaming says: Given its prominent role on the front line of UK lottery funding, the Big Lottery Fund continues to work closely with Camelot to highlight the positive impact the National Lottery makes to good causes across the country. This momentum is set to continue throughout 2017 and beyond, as the group works toward key milestones, including the launch of a new funding portfolio in England and a redesign of its small grants programme.


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