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BIG on the environment

March 4, 2013

As National Climate Week gets underway today,  Peter Ainsworth, UK Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, looks ahead at exciting plans for the future and reflects on the progress made by some of the fantastic environmental projects BIG has helped come to fruition:

Peter Ainsworth. Chair, Big Lottery Fund.

Peter Ainsworth. Chair, Big Lottery Fund.

As a quick snapshot, the Big Lottery Fund has awarded over £342 million since 2006/07 through our environmental initiatives, and that figure is significantly higher when individual environment grants made to communities under our Reaching Communities and Awards for All programmes are taken into account.

In Wales, the Cilgwyn Community Group received £24,600 in December to run an electric car scheme near Newport, Pembrokeshire, which could represent a vision of the future. The group will use the funding to buy an electric van and car to establish a community electric transport club, providing a car sharing facility for the community and reducing the need for second cars. The van will be used to transport goods and fresh produce from around the region and renewable energy will be used to recharge the vehicles. The group is poised to purchase their vehicles and literally set the wheels of a fantastic environmental action project in motion.

Another Welsh group, the Wastesavers Charitable Trust, are using a £160,934 People and Places award to run the PEAK project.

Aimed at helping the environment, the scheme also improves the skills and education of young people aged 14 – 18 who have been excluded from school. Among a huge range of activities, the not-for-profit recycling group runs the Community Furniture Shop where reconditioned furniture is made available to those on low incomes. Young people on the project are able to gain valuable work experience at the shop, preparing them for the world of work whilst at the same time reducing the amount of waste going into landfill sites. Projects such as these are vital because we can’t look to the future without also involving the next generation in our plans.

BIG is currently exploring a UK-wide programme that will give young people a greater say in improving the local environment as it is their future that will be most affected by action taken now. Young people today, often struggling to find employment, represent a huge, natural resource of talent and ideas just waiting to be discovered. Our new environmental programme will aim harness their renewable energy to create one of our most ambitious programmes yet, bringing together the right partners across the UK and testing what is most effective in changing attitudes and behaviour. It is part of BIG’s determination to further support communities in their efforts to safeguard and improve their environment and I look forward to sharing more details in due course.

For more information about the Big Lottery Fund’s work in Wales visit our website.

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