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Street Football Wales makes sure that you’ll never walk alone

June 19, 2019
Street Football Wales team photo

Football is, as they say, the beautiful game. All around the world it brings people together in so many different ways, and whether you understand the offside rule or not, being part of a crowd of people witnessing a strike that reaches the back of the net is something that thousands, if not millions of people, are part of at that moment.

Homelessness on the other hand puts people in completely opposite situations. Loneliness, fear, and worry are things that we commonly associate with being homeless, and for some getting themselves back on their feet takes a long time. Read more…

Building Gellideg Wellbeing Centre – a journey into the unknown

June 14, 2019
Reception at Gellideg wellbeing centre

With hindsight, we now appreciate the scale and significance of what is involved in creating a big, new building. If we had known at the beginning what we know now, it is possible that we would not have contemplated taking on such a challenge. Luckily for us we did not, and on the plus side not only have we grown in the process, but we are about to open our brand new, bespoke, beautiful Wellbeing Centre .

Our Centre is being built on what was wasteland between residential roads on the Gellideg Estate on the edge of Merthyr Tydfil.   A newspaper article back in 2009 described why the Foundation was set up, explaining that years of unemployment undermined the aspirations of people living on this isolated estate.  The new Wellbeing Centre is intended to counter feelings of hopelessness, becoming a beacon of aspiration – a beautiful, purpose built gift to the Community to inspire and encourage them to find and build on the strengths and skills they may not know they have yet.

Little did we realise what we were letting ourselves in for when our Trustees went to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth back in 2015. They learnt about passivhaus a technique from Germany intended to make a building as energy efficient as possible, which was extremely appealing given our substantial heating bills at the time.  The trustees also fell in love with the Sheppard Theatre – a circular, wood lined room. Our quest for a passivhaus design with a round room began.

Never having commissioned a capital project of such magnitude, we originally expected to tell the architects and builders what we wanted and then wait to move in. In reality I am here to tell you it doesn’t work like that, we have lived through every brick being laid while keeping the work of the charity going in the background.  It is not possible to be hands-off in a project which means so much to the people who are commissioning it. Over the years we have had to get up to speed with procurement, architectural design, planning, health and safety, environmental impact, security by design, external landscaping, building control requirements, passivhaus, installation of fixtures and fittings, IT requirements and much more.

Once the Centre had been designed, it was costed, and we had to fund raise to meet this sum. It took two years to find the £ 3. 2 million required. We have had to

  • provide reports to our various funders and followed their guidelines for spending their grants,
  • ensure that the community are still being supported
  • and take on the massive workload required to get this building up.

Above all, we’ve had to monitor the spend on the build to make sure it meets the grants we have available. We haven’t been able to find a funder to pay for our time to do any of this.

The build is on budget but we’ve had to downsize some of our expectations. We have paid what seemed to us to be enormous sums for expert advice, which often conflicted and which tried to pull the project in all sorts of different directions.  In the end we had to take the decisions whether to follow the advice or not, ultimately which way to go is a matter of judgement .

The building has taken longer than anyone anticipated. We’ve been stymied by the discovery of unexpected water seeping under the building, but this is now finally being resolved.

We have learnt how to manage the ever growing number of different contractors engaged on a project of this size.  We have learnt how important relationships are – they last for years over something like this and will make or break the project. We have also learnt that the clarity of our vision is a key factor, for example we found that architects really don’t like round rooms and if we hadn’t been absolutely determined to have one, we would have lost it.  We have stuck to our vision for a space which can be zoned and used by the community in a variety of ways as their vision grows and changes. .

colourful doors on the toilets in the new nursery

We are now so proud of everything, the little colourful doors on the toilets in nursery room, the extending blinds to keep the nursery cool, the airy multi-purpose meeting rooms, the mezzanine balcony and of course our beautiful, wood-lined, round room.

We now know so much about capital builds we are thinking of offering seminars for other charities and organisations to learn from our hard won expertise – contact us if you are interested.

It has taken months to get to this point but finally we are ready to finish the build this month and open our doors so the real work can begin –the work the community of Gellideg want to get started on, in their lovely new centre.

As told by Helen Buhaenko


If you want to read the newspaper article mentioned in the blog – here is the link:


Working up an appetite for a Big Lunch

May 31, 2019

Communities all across the UK are set to come together  over the weekend 1 and 2 of June over a cuppa and cake for this year’s Big Lunch. In preparation for their local Big Lunches, teams from across the UK have embarked on journeys covering hundreds of miles, visiting community projects and passionate people to see the amazing work that they do in their communities, and to join in their celebrations.

The Big Lunch is an Eden Communities initiative funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and made possible thanks to National Lottery players.

Alex Davies from our Mid and West team joined this year’s Wales walkers, Katie and Sian, on their journey on a gloriously sunny weekend as the traveled through Lampeter in Ceredigion to visit the beautiful Long Wood Community Woodland just a few miles outside of the town, which was awarded over £700,000 through our Community Asset Transfer programme. Read more…

“Males are three times more likely to take their life and it’s a problem that’s especially difficult and critical at the moment.”

May 15, 2019

“Hi, my name’s Rosie and I’m a student at Cardiff University, and I’ve also just completed an internship with the student’s union in a National Lottery funded project in suicide prevention and mental health support. This project was funded by the National Lottery and we’re so incredibly grateful for the funding and the ability to put this project on.

“I’ve personally delivered the training that this has funded to 300 students but there’s a team of us delivering it and looking to deliver to 1,000 students and staff members by the end of the year so it’s really going to benefit a lot of people in our community, and help to teach people how to spot the signs among their friends, peers, families and colleagues exhibiting signs of suicidal thoughts and ideas, and really teaching them about how to help them and how to help themselves as well.

“Another part of our campaign that I was really passionate about being involved with and starting was a campaign specifically aimed at male students. Males are three times more likely to take their life and it’s a problem that’s especially difficult and critical at the moment, so we wanted to put on a campaign for male students to encourage them and say that it’s ok to speak about your mental health and to reach out and get support, and that everybody regardless of their gender or identity has mental health just as they have physical health and it’s a strength not a weakness to reach out for support.

“Personally I suffer from depression and anxiety and that’s really affected me as a student but Cardiff University and the Student’s Union have helped me so much, and every time that I’ve felt like I needed support it’s been there for me and I’ve been able to speak out. There’s been no barrier to me speaking out, and I really want that for my male friends, colleagues and peers who have some unique barriers that they might face like they need to be strong and that it’s not a strength to speak out as there’s a lot of stigma around men accessing mental health support and speaking out about their mental health, so I really wanted to create a campaign and provision that encourages them to wear their hearts on their sleeves which is where the “Alright Mate?” campaign came from.”

Speaking up about mental health is a STRENGTH, NOT a weakness. Cardiff University Students’ Union launched the #AlrightMate? campaign. The campaign is their response to the alarmingly high rate of male suicide in the UK, which is the biggest killer of men under 45. They want to help put an end to these eye-opening statistics and break the stigma of talking about mental health.

Cardiff University Students’ Union received £9,600 of National Lottery money to train six staff members, who deal with students who may be in crisis, to deliver a ‘Suicide Prevention Skills for University Students’ programme to the student body. The National Lottery Community Fund spoke to Cardiff University students to talk about their experiences to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people.

Funding what matters most to communities in Wales.

April 26, 2019

As the leading community funder, we distribute money raised by the National Lottery to community groups and charities in Wales. This year, thanks to National Lottery players we will distribute £34 million to communities across Wales who enable people to improve their lives by drawing upon the skills, assets and energy in their communities. We know that our communities are ever changing and therefore it’s important that we respond to the issues that matters most to the communities.

Here, John Rose, Director of The National Lottery Community Fund explains how we set about involving communities in a meaningful conversation about how we best allocate our funding this year to support communities in Wales to thrive. Read more…

Building Resilience for a Thriving Third Sector

March 20, 2019

The National Lottery Community Fund recently commissioned The Funding Centre to create the first map of the third sector support landscape in Wales. The Funding Centre is a consultancy who have worked with more than 100 charities across Wales. They have seen first hand just how challenging things really are for the third sector.

We were seeking to list, understand and assess what help is available to enable the sector (charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises) to survive and thrive. Our focus was on help to build organisational and financial resilience. We asked The Funding Centre about the process and what they identified: Read more…

Help shape National Lottery funding

March 14, 2019

logo.pngWe are looking for 10 – 12 people in Wales to take part in user testing to help The National Lottery Community Fund (formerly ‘Big Lottery Fund’) improve the process of applying for funding.

The National Lottery Community Fund wants to improve the overall experience of applying for National Lottery funding, which includes transforming our digital and web services and refining the application process. Participants can be successful and unsuccessful applicants, who will help us to map out the stages of applying for funding (the ‘customer journey’), and tell us their experiences of what went well and what was difficult.

We would be very grateful for your contributions as it is so important to improving our services and making sure our funding has the best possible impact on a wide range of communities. Read more…

Carmarthen ten-pin bowling’s right up our alley

February 27, 2019

As part of our rebrand to become The National Lottery Community Fund we went to visit some of the projects that we’d awarded grants to over the years. Alex Davies from our Communications team tells us about his visit to the Xcel Bowl centre in Johnstown, Carmarthenshire which was awarded a Community Asset Transfer grant of nearly £800,000 way back in 2010.

“My initial thoughts about my visit were that I could have picked a better day to go and visit the centre as there was some of the heaviest rain I’ve driven in for a long time. That thought, however, was quickly dispelled once I’d arrived as I wasn’t sure where I’d be able to park given there were so many cars there. It turned out that it was the perfect day for dozens of families that were looking for something to do to go there as the place was full-up, and I even spoke to a few students from the local school who were there on their lunch-break to play a few games who said how valued the venue was to have so close to them.

Read more…

Sports projects: What can we fund?

January 21, 2019

The National Lottery Community Fund supports a wide range of activities including projects that develop people’s skills, promote community involvement and encourage healthier lifestyles. However our funding doesn’t cover projects where the main purpose is to promote or develop the arts, heritage or sport.

Having said that, we recognise that these types of projects are often a focal point within the community and play an invaluable role in people’s lives so our Funding team has shared their tips for distinguishing the blurred line between fundable and non-fundable sports projects.

What we can fund:

We can fund projects if they use sport as a means to support community activity and meet the aims of our funding programmes. These could include projects that use sport to tackle inequality or integrate communities by bringing together people of different ages, projects that improve the ability of disabled people to take part in activities, or projects where for example, a sports club is also used as a community centre.

Read more…

“I lost a friend to suicide recently so it’s a big motivating factor for me to try and make a difference.”

January 14, 2019

“I’m James, I’m a second year Translation student at Cardiff University. I first got involved with Mind Your Head through working with the Welfare department of the Students’ Union where I met Rosie and Lewis our Co-Presidents. I’m now Secretary of the group and took part in the launch week of Mind Your Head week and helped facilitate a Mind Your Head café which we’re doing again this week for the “Alright Mate?” campaign.

“I mostly got involved to try and make a difference with mental health. I lost a friend to suicide recently so it’s a big motivating factor for me to get involved and try and make a difference. When I was growing up my mum had pretty ill health which progressed into me needing to seek help through my sixth form and eventually through to university when I got here. I struggled with anxiety surrounding that for a while, and stigma was definitely something that prevented me from seeking help because I felt like it shouldn’t have been an issue or should I just get over it, or my mum’s problems were worse than mine.

Read more…