Opinion Former Article

Big Lottery Fund: Grassroots groups grab big green grants

GREENFINGERED groups across the UK are today receiving millions of pounds of green grants from the Big Lottery Fund meaning more than 1000 grassroots organisations are transforming local spaces for local people.

The BBC-led Breathing Places campaign is all about getting communities closer to nature. The BIG grants scheme has enabled thousands of people to work together to create a 'breathing place' for themselves and wildlife. Today's third grant rollout marks a total £8.5 million of investment into green space from scrubland to city parks and wasteland to woodland.

BBC Two's live Springwatch programme will be featuring some previously successful Breathing Places projects on its show at 8pm tonight (Tuesday). Springwatch presenter, Kate Humble, said: "This is great news for both wildlife and people. Breathing Places are opening up throughout the UK in parks and gardens, schools and community spaces. Big or small, these wildlife areas make all the difference, not only for nature but also in giving local people the perfect excuse to get outside and enjoy the natural world on their doorstep."

Today 400 projects from all over the UK will have their wellies and spades ready to create a green haven for their communities to enjoy after receiving grants of up to £10,000.

Friends of Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, one of 27 successful London projects, secured £8,100 to transform the park into an urban oasis. Over 250 volunteers will work on enhancing biodiversity including two mini spawning ponds for frogs, species-specific bird boxes, a bug habitat and a sensory garden. The project will also involve management of the meadow, marsh, open water and woodland habitats.

The project will include a number of events held at the park including themed guided walks, story telling for younger children, pond dipping for adults and volunteer days with a focus on involving young adults.

Joanne Smith, Senior Warden at Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, said: "This is great news for the park and the community; managing the park is a big job and increasing animal species here is something we really want to do. Involving local people in improving their green space, in a real hands on way, is invaluable to everyone. As well as introducing them to nature they are actually contributing to it, which will give the community a strong sense of ownership."

Also securing Breathing Places funds this spring is the Pennywell Youth Project in Sunderland who work primarily with young people aged between 11 and 25 from all backgrounds, including those with learning disabilities and autism. This environmentally focused group will use their £8,850 grant to regenerate an area of derelict land, creating a community garden and wildlife space including a 'bee there area' which will see bee keeping facilities, honey collecting sessions, activity days and workshops.

Gordon Langley, Project Manager for the Pennywell Youth Project, said: "The idea of the project is to make young people aware of the environment and nature. We find that most of the youngsters we work with do care about the environment but they don't have a great understanding of it. Some of the kids didn't know where eggs came from, so to give them a better understanding and hands on experience we got some chickens that they have to look after. We've taken the same idea to create the 'bee there area."

Sir Clive Booth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said: "This joint initiative between BIG and the BBC has captured people's attention the length and breadth of the UK. With over 1000 breathing places now created or underway, millions of people can appreciate the difference a green space can make to a community, their environment and local wildlife."

More information about Breathing Places can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces and a full list of grants awarded through this programme is available at: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk.

Total regional funding awarded across the UK

Region Award total Region Award total
East of England £179,773 North West £375,665
East Midlands £179,773 North East £375,665
West Midlands £270,740 South East £310,932
London £241,406 South West £194,318
Yorkshire and Humber £403,451 Northern Ireland £257,263
Scotland £492,948 Wales £317,846

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030 Textphone: 0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available at: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

Notes to Editors

. The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
. The Breathing Places programme is a joint initiative led by the BBC and funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Since 2006 BIG has awarded £8.5 million to 1073 projects through the dedicated small grant scheme, allowing communities to transform the local environment and create wildlife-friendly green spaces.

BBC Breathing Places

. BBC Breathing Places is a five-year campaign to inspire people to create and care for green spaces where they live. Developed in partnership with a huge range of wildlife and conservation organisations, the campaign encourages new audiences to get involved in doing one thing for nature, while providing opportunities for BBC Breathing Places to be created across the UK.
. www.bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces provides details on how to do one thing for nature where you live from putting up a bird feeder to creating a breathing place. The public can search over 7,000 places and events to find one near them.
. A Breathing Place is great for both wildlife and people. It has an active community of people creating, enjoying and maintaining it.

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