Opinion Former Article

Big Lottery Fund: Lewisham group on its marks to give sporting chances to families

A Lewisham group is getting set to engage families with their communities, help them to lead healthier lifestyles and embrace Olympic ideals during this very special summer of sport. Community Teachsport is one of eight London projects receiving National Lottery good causes cash from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) today. (A full list of awards is available on request.)

The funding comes from the BIG’s Reaching Communities programme, which aims to help those most in need and build stronger communities. Over £2million is being shared out across the capital this month.

Community Teachsport’s ParkActive project has been designed to deliver fun sporting activities in safe park environments over the next four years, encouraging young people and their families to become more active, connect with other families in the community and embrace Olympic ideals such as sportsmanship and treating people equally regardless of their backgrounds. At the same time volunteers will be involved in the running of the project to improve their employment prospects and gain new skills. The activities will be run after school and throughout the school holidays in 20 Lewisham parks and surrounding indoor locations such as sports centres.

Through outreach work, staff and volunteers will encourage disadvantaged young people, who may be involved in crime or anti-social behaviour, to take part in the projects by adopting a less formal drop in/drop out approach, to help build levels of interest and trust. It’s hoped the presence of large numbers of young people and their families participating in numerous activities in parks and open spaces will help the parks to become safer for all users during the holiday periods.

Ross Walker of Community Teachsport said: "This funding is a massive boost in the Olympic year to the people of Lewisham, as it will allow young people of all ages and their families, at a time when funding cuts abound, the opportunity to learn about, enjoy and understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle whilst taking part in fun sports activities and learning about Olympic ideals.

“It will allow the parks of Lewisham to come alive with regular visible daily activity and become safer environments over a period of four years for users of all ages to enjoy. It will encourage young people, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds to move away from the streets and get involved in positive, structured activities in an open safe environment. ParkActive will also give young people the opportunity of volunteering and gaining work experience and improving their employment prospects in an area that is one of the worst for youth unemployment in the country."

Also working with vulnerable people to help them improve their life chances is the Hillingdon Women’s Centre, who will use their £130,610 grant to support women to improve their employment skills and gain experience and knowledge by getting them involved in volunteering in the local community. The project will particularly target women who may struggle to get involved in volunteering because of mental health issues, illness, isolation, low level English language skills, and low self-esteem due to experiencing violence and abuse.

Just under £235,000 also goes to the Newham Community Renewal Programme, to help local people who are act as carer to a loved one to improve their emotional and physical health and wellbeing through a programme of activities and advice and information sessions. These will cover issues including how to access relevant healthcare services and skills such as first aid and safe handling and lifting. Carers will also learn how to reduce their stress levels and physical activities such as Zumba will be on offer for them to take part in. A health buddy system will also be established, where volunteer carers will support newly identified carers and ensure they take care of themselves.

Alison Rowe, Big Lottery Fund’s Head of the London region, said: “With the Olympics now just weeks away, it’s great to see a project using sport to work with young people and their families to help them improve their health and lifestyles, while making their local parks safer for the whole community to enjoy.”

Further Information
Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Ask BIG a question here: https://ask.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Follow BIG on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BigLotteryFund #BIGlf
Find BIG on facebook: www.facebook.com/BigLotteryFund

Notes to Editors
• The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since June 2004 BIG has awarded over £4.4bn.
• The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £28 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

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