5 million National Lottery cash to improve NI community buildings

From: Big Lottery Fund
Published: Tue Jan 23 2024

The National Lottery Community Fund has today launched a £5 million programme to help community organisations across Northern Ireland make their buildings more energy efficient and save money on bills.

The Sustainable Community Buildings programme is offering grants of up to £50,000 to help organisations carry out improvements to their venues by installing technology like solar panels, insulation and heat pumps, saving money on energy bills. For more information on the programme visit: www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/sustainable-community-buildings.

Organisations that apply to the programme will also take part in vital free carbon literacy training delivered by Business in the Community, which will help them to look at ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Action Renewables will also support them to write and implement an environmental plan to consider steps to improve sustainability and cut costs.

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund's NI Director said: “Sustainable Community Buildings is designed to kick-start an organisation's journey to sustainability. It is the first step in our ambition under our new strategy to support communities to be environmentally sustainable.

“The programme will help organisations to improve the environmental performance of their building, save money through lower utility bills and reduce their carbon footprint. We believe this will also leave a legacy by increasing awareness and educating community organisations about the environmental challenges they face.”

Some community groups have already taken steps to be environmentally sustainable and save money.

Cloughmills Men's Shed members, part of the Community Action Team, who are already supporting the organisation to be more environmentally sustainable.

Patrick Frew, from Cloughmills Community Action Team, that supports local people in the Antrim village explained: “We've received support from the National Lottery Community Fund over 20 years, and the first grant gave us the confidence to consider how we can help the environment, when it wasn't the main purpose of the group.

“We started off bringing young people together and helped them grow their own vegetables, which taught them responsibility and life skills while looking at reducing emissions from food being processed and delivered. This led to cooking food together and got the whole community involved.

“In recent years we received National Lottery funding for solar panels which have helped save on energy costs each year. We have a men's shed, which is used every day by older people, to make things and reduce loneliness. The savings have allowed us to buy more equipment and keep it running.”

Also having started the journey to become more sustainable is Rathfern Community Regeneration Group in Newtownabbey. Thomas Kirkham, Manager explained: “Our building is busy every day, bringing people together from infants to those in older age. With ever increasing budgets, we applied for support from The National Lottery Community Fund to install solar panels three years ago, and have saved over £1,000 a year since.

“As the estate we are based in is surrounded by hills, we never thought they would be possible, but thanks to the grant, an expert came out, looked at what was possible and helped us make it happen.

“We have been able to put that money back into services to the local community such as our training programme for young men and women to get into employment. We give young people a place to go, and it's important to teach them about caring for their planet when they are young - we're leading by example and this is just the start for us.”

The Sustainable Community Buildings programme will open in stages across Northern Ireland:

We'll be open for applications from Wednesday 7 February to Wednesday 20 March 2024 for organisations with community buildings in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Mid Ulster District Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council or Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

We'll be open for applications from Wednesday 11 September to Wednesday 23 October 2024 for organisations with community buildings in Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council or Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

We'll be open for applications from Wednesday 8 January to Wednesday 19 February 2025 for organisations with community buildings in Belfast City Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council or Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

Notes to Editors

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest non-statutory community funder in the UK - community is at the heart of our purpose, vision and name.

We support activities that create resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable and that will strengthen society and improve lives across the UK.

We're proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to work closely with Government to distribute vital grants and funding from key Government programmes and initiatives.

As well as responding to what communities tell us is important to them, our funding is focused on four key missions, supporting communities to:

1. Come together

2. Be environmentally sustainable

3. Help children and young people thrive

4. Enable people to live healthier lives.

Sustainable Community Buildings

This funding can help you organisation reduce your carbon footprint, create an environment plan and improve the environmental performance of your building.

Read more about this programme

Company: Big Lottery Fund

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