Northern Ireland has undergone a massive programme of civic regeneration to the tune of over £845 million thanks to National Lottery funding for good causes.
That was the amazing headline at a recent reception to mark the 15th anniversary of Lottery funding, held at the Ulster Museum. Lottery distributors in Northern Ireland, Camelot and distinguished guests learnt about some of the other 15,000 different projects in Northern Ireland which have benefited from Lottery funding in those 15 years, transforming thousands of lives.
Seventeen year old Aińe Burns from New Lodge in Belfast represented a whole generation of those living in Northern Ireland who won’t recall the state of the arts, sports, charitable, health, community, health, heritage and environment sectors, before the Lottery existed. A staggering 60% of Lottery funded projects in Northern Ireland benefit young people.
At the tender age of six, Aińe took part in the afterschools club at STAR Neighbourhood Centre, a project her Granny co-founded and where her mother also became involved in the mother and toddlers group. Having progressed through the homework club Aińe is still involved with a young woman’s group, all of which are Lottery funded.
Speaking at the event, Aińe said, “I am now doing a peer education course with another Lottery funded group, “Challenge for Youth”, as I’d like to become a youth worker. Without the Lottery-funded initiatives it’s hard to say where I’d be now – especially when I see the choices some young people make – and that’s frightening! Lottery funding really has changed my life.”
Lottery funding in Northern Ireland is distributed via the Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland. Paul Mullan, Chair of the Lottery Forum in Northern Ireland said, “On behalf of all the Lottery distributors I’d like to thank the projects, volunteers, community workers and staff who have ensured we’ve been able to fund good causes large and small, in every town in Northern Ireland to benefit a very broad range of projects and sectors. Northern Ireland has also had its fair share of National Lottery winners, led by a £20 million pound winner which remains in the top 10 wins of the past 15 years and I’d like to thank the Camelot team for their professionalism and commitment in establishing and operating one of the world’s most successful lotteries.
“In the last 15 years, new employment opportunities have been created; emerging economic sectors have been helped to flourish and facilities for visitors and tourists have been enhanced. In many cases the quality of life of local residents has been significantly improved and a new sense of local image and identity has often been created.”
BBC presenter William Crawley presided over the event, introducing Baroness May Blood MBE, Aideen McGinley OBE and comedian Tim McGarry to recount their personal experiences of Lottery funding.
Paul Mullan added, “Lottery funding has supported a wide range of programmes aimed at achieving social change and transforming the lives of whole communities as well as groups of people with particular needs. Good Cause funding represents an important investment in people which helps communities act for themselves, changes lifestyles, provides opportunities for personal development and builds social capital. £23 billion has been funded to good causes across the UK and with approximately 28% of Lottery sales going to good causes and projects throughout Northern Ireland will continue to benefit.”