Community groups share in National Lottery windfall

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The National Lottery Community Fund has announced £3,313,174 of grants benefiting 93 community projects, supporting people across Northern Ireland, including four projects in the Mid and East Antrim area - three of which are in Ballymena district.

Projects being funded are supporting those in need over the festive season and enabling communities to have a better 2022 through activities to improve mental health, support children with disabilities and help people new to Northern Ireland to integrate.

Ballymena RUC Association has been awarded a £10,000 grant to buy equipment to produce a newsletter, organise respite social events and supply each member with a care package. The project will help to reduce social isolation, build self-confidence and self-esteem among members and keep them informed about relevant issues.

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Ballymena Rugby Football Club is using a £10,000 grant to refurbish and make improvements to part of their community hall which is used by local groups for activities to benefit the community.

Fenagh Orange Lodge No 674, based near Cullybackey, also received a £10,000 grant to repair the roof of their building so it can be used for activities which benefit the community.

And, in the neighbouring borough of Antrim and Newtownabbey, six projects received grants from the Community Fund.

One of the groups - Friends of Antrim Castle Gardens received a £10,000 grant to set up a small social economy which involves selling planted baskets and planters and making and selling crafts through the council-run shop on the grounds. The project will provide meaningful activities for their members and improve their wellbeing.

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The Bridge Association in Antrim was also awarded a £10,000 grant to provide their trainees, who have learning disabilities, with accredited training through a healthy body and mind programme to improve their wellbeing. The project will also provide social opportunities to reduce isolation and a celebration event organised by the trainees to demonstrate their strengths, skills, and knowledge.

Randalstown Arches Association is using a £10,000 grant to buy equipment and refurbish the Arches Community Hub to make it more inviting and comfortable for community activities to take place there.

Creavery Tots and Co, which is based on the grounds of Creavery Primary School in Antrim, also received a £10,000 grant to build a large outdoor wooden cabin so they can hold more people and have space to store equipment.

Paul Sweeney, The National Lottery Community Fund’s Northern Ireland Chair, said: “It’s inspiring to see such a diverse range of projects being funded as we continue to rise to the challenges of COVID-19, helping people stay connected and supporting wellbeing.”