After 49 year-old Diana Williams woke up one morning suddenly unable to see properly in one eye – giving up driving, her job, and her home – she became determined for it not to change her life.
Now aged 62, and thanks to a Macular Society project funded by the Big Lottery Fund, she is dedicating herself to supporting other people that are at risk of becoming socially isolated through sight-loss.
“I was 49 and living in Swansea when I woke up one morning without any central vision in my left eye,” she explained. “I’d always been in the caring profession and had always looked after all sorts of people, and had seen and heard of so many things that people go through but you never think any of it will happen to you, and a few years later exactly the same thing happened to my right eye.
Big Lottery Fund communications manager Ben Payne explains how the launch of the £13.5 million Rural Programme hit the headlines, the airwaves and social media timelines. But he says the real quality was in all the face-to-face conversations they had along the way.
Developing local knowledge officer Gareth Hughes and I went on a rural road trip to launch the programme and you can watch a short but fab Flipagram of our highlights below.
The epic two-day anti-clockwise journey around Wales took in all nine areas set to benefit from the funding – Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Powys, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Monmouthshire.
Big Lottery Fund Wales director John Rose explains how we want to make great choices for communities the length and breadth of Wales by better understanding the ‘future of doing good’.
What do we mean by ‘doing good’?
For me, it’s building goodwill and trust in communities through a shared understanding of the challenges and priorities of those living there. It’s about having a concern for the wellbeing of citizens, supporting them to take action, and empowering them to participate in making the decisions that affect them.
‘Doing good’ is arguably everyone’s business. Communities, individuals, and the third, public and private sectors all have a stake in the agenda of making Wales a better place in which to live. The Big Lottery Fund believes that people should lead that change to improve their lives by drawing upon the skills, assets and energy in their communities. We distribute around £40 million every year in Wales to projects that make the changes that communities want to see.
Working in partnership with the Bevan Foundation, we are reaching out to a broad cross section of Welsh society in thinking about what the future of ‘doing good’ might look like in Wales. As part of a UK-wide conversation, we are stimulating discussion with communities, charities, social enterprises, government and business. While we have a good idea of the challenges, we certainly don’t have all the answers, so here are a few questions to stimulate the conversation. Read more…
This Christmas, the Big Lottery Fund along with Cardiff-based funder, The Waterloo Foundation, have combined to establish a “Wales Match Fund” with the offer of doubling public donations to 21 charities working to improve the welfare of people in Wales. The aim is to raise at least £200,000 to provide a small boost to charities working in Wales. Donations will be doubled as part of the Big Give Christmas Challenge, an annual campaign created by the founder of Reed Recruitment, Sir Alec Reed CBE. The Christmas Challenge has raised more than £71m for around 2,500 charities since 2008.
Donations will be doubled by the Wales Match Fund from midday on Tuesday 29th November for 72 hours or until the match funding has been exhausted. Anyone interested in having their donations doubled should visit theBigGive.org.uk/wales between midday on 29th November and 2nd December. Read more…
Andrew Brown Funding Manager shares his reflections on this year’s Autumn Renew Wales conference in Wrexham
“Inspiring” and “eye-opening” are how I would describe this year’s Renew Wales conference, which brought together communities and experts practicing ways to combat climate change at a local and national level.
The Development Trusts Association Wales was awarded a Big Lottery Fund grant of £620,000, to establish The Renew Wales project. It’s an initiative aimed at developing the capacity and capability of communities across Wales to tackle climate change.
It was particularly relevant to me as I am currently managing our Create Your Space programme, which aims to help communities make a positive difference to their local environment. Read more…
Mudiad Meithrin (the Welsh early years organisation) describes how grateful to the Big Lottery Fund they are for the funds it has succeeded in receiving over the years.
“The application forms are easy to complete and the Lottery’s friendly staff are available on the other end of the line if needed in case of difficulties with any aspect of the form.
Below is a table showing how much funding nursery groups, You and Me groups and Mudiad Meithrin in general has succeeded in securing through the Big Lottery Fund’s various programmes over the last five years.
- 126 grants worth up to £465,019 to Nursery groups throughout Wales
- each grant was £3,690 on average
- 136 applications over 5 years, 92% of which we successful (only 10 were unsuccessful)
The types of projects funded in the nursery groups include improving outside areas for children’s imaginative play, information technology equipment to develop children’s digital literacy skills in the groups, as well as educational equipment and furniture for the groups. All of this creates an atmosphere which will be a means to encourage children to enjoy learning and to raise the standard and quality of the provision. Read more…
By Debbie Braden, Director of TV Conwy.
“Take photos with your phones” we said, “send them to your friends and family” we said “ oh I can’t do that” they said, “ far too complicated for someone of my age! “. Five weeks into the first course the group were so excited they hadn’t even stopped for coffee and biscuits “ How do I add a title? “, “Can I put any kind of music under this?”, “ Can I do this in slo-mo then? “ – the room buzzed with happy students firing questions at Mark, the ever-patient tutor.
It was thanks to the Big Lottery’s Grab-a-Grant project that we were able to put together the “Through Older Eyes “proposal and we were flabbergasted and totally delighted to find that we’d been voted for by the communities of Conwy and Bangor along with 4 other lucky winners. Read more…
Domestic violence often relies on isolating the victim. For victims living in rural areas, this isolation is worsened because they may live far from public transport, support services, family and friends.
After decades trapped in a brutal and violent relationship, 49 year old *Edna Jones from Carmarthenshire eventually plucked up the courage to leave her husband and find the help she so desperately needed. “I suffered abuse for 30 years, basically the whole time I was with my husband,” says Edna. “It ranged from severe physical abuse to verbal and mental abuse.
“He denied me friends and he would take things from me including keys, debit cards and my mobile phone. He would change the locks on the doors and not let me go anywhere. He tried absolutely everything to break me. The physical abuse was worse when I was younger and when our children were younger. The control, verbal abuse and the constant humiliation became more prevalent later on.
The costs and commitments associated with owning a car can really add up. Insurance, MOT, tax, servicing, cleaning, parking charges and repairs – the list is substantial. These problems can be exasperated in rural communities where local amenities and services have ebbed away and where public transport options are few and far between. Many people can find themselves increasingly isolated without a car.
In a beautiful corner of rural South West Wales however, Wales’ first electric car share club is enabling people to share the cost of motoring with their neighbourhood. With a grant of £25,000 from the Big Lottery Fund three years ago, the Cilgwyn Community Group in Newport, Pembrokeshire, was able to lease a brand new electric vehicle and set up a car-sharing club for the area. Read more…
As a young disabled person living in Monmouth, 22 year old Lewis Venner knows only too well how easy it is to become isolated in a rural area and how access to vital services, transport links and employment and educational opportunities are all crucial elements to enhance the quality of life.
Following complications during a life-saving operation to remove a tumour from his brain when he was just three years old, Lewis was left partially paralysed down the right hand side of his body. He also has epilepsy and suffers seizures every day. Unable to drive a car, Lewis felt very isolated and alone after finishing Sixth Form College in Hereford which is some 20 miles away from Monmouth where he lives. Read more…