Empower – Be The Change in Wrexham was set up in 2016 after Founder, Jo Clay, spent two and a half years in India volunteering and working on various community projects. She mainly worked on setting up an international volunteer programme for young people from Wales, enabling them to increase their self-belief and strive towards their real interests and goals. It was this experience that inspired her to set up a social enterprise which could empower others to achieve the same. We spoke to her about her work thanks to a National Lottery grant of £246,000.
I set up Empower – Be The Change in May 2016 as I firmly believe that everyone has huge potential and with the right opportunities everyone has the opportunity to become empowered. The best part about my role is working with our participants and witnessing the positive self-belief they develop. It is also great working with the team and being creative and innovative in what we do.
Since May 2016 Empower – Be The Change has empowered over 300 people ranging in age from 15 years old to 70 years old from many communities across North Wales. In September 2017 Empower – Be The Change applied for National Lottery funding to expand what we do. We spoke to a range of our previous participants, future participants and local agencies to find out what was needed. The overwhelming response was that people wanted to gain relevant qualifications whilst building their personal skills in a relaxed and fun learning environment. They also wanted to gain skills to better self-manage and take back control of their lives.
Off the back of this consultation we applied for funding to increase our programme reach to more communities across North Wales with the primary aim of empowering 1000 people by 2023.
In January 2018 our application was approved and in April 2018 we started year one of the project. In the first 12 months we have increased our staff base from 1 to 3, tripled our overall income and tripled our sales income. Into year two we are seeking to increase our programme delivery into more rural parts of the region and add to our programme portfolio.
The application process is detailed and does require dedicated time and effort. The main things I would recommend applicants doing is:
- Set aside dedicated time to tackle one section of the application at a time.
- Involve as many people as possible so that you capture as much information about the project and potential impact as possible.
- Be really clear about why you need the funding and how the project will be sustained after the grant period.
My overall top tip would be to chat to one of the staff at the National Lottery Community Fund about your idea. They are incredibly supportive and helpful and will provide clear guidance on your project idea.