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Reducing reoffending… have your say!

December 19, 2014

Originally posted on The Big Lottery Fund Blog:

by Carolyn Sawers

Many community and voluntary organisations across the UK are working to support people who have a history of offending to change their lives for the better.

As a funder we are keen to champion this work and learn from it. Since 2006 the Fund has supported more than 1200 projects in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland (worth around £390m) working with people at risk of offending, ex-offenders, their families and their communities.

Some are large initiatives like our Realising Ambition programme, aiming to prevent first time offending; but many are small projects, like the local restoration project my colleague Michelle Cherry visited in Northern Ireland.

Man and woman talking at a desk at Catch 22 offices

In 2013 we asked Fiona Ellis to write up and analyse 12 case studies from all four countries. These stories show different approaches to reducing reoffending, as well as revealing common themes like the importance of access to employment, stable accommodation…

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Using evidence in practice

December 18, 2014

Are you interested in using evidence to design and improve services?

If so, the following event is for you:

Using Evidence in Practice
Tuesday 10th March 2015
9.30 to 15.45
Scottish Government
Victoria Quay

This event is for practitioners, commissioners, funders and policy makers interested in:
• hearing more about how others have used different types of evidence to help design services and improve practice;
• sharing learning about different tools and resources that are available to support evidence-based practice; and
• meeting others interested in evidence based practice.

The programme will include input from the Scottish Government, Evaluation Support Scotland, and a variety of informative case studies, including one of the Big Lottery Fund’s Realising Ambition projects.

A limited number of places are available for this event. Attendance is free and bookings are on a first come, first served basis and can be made via the following link:

Please feel free to forward this invitation to others who may be interested in attending.


My fresh start

December 17, 2014

This week, while many of us are planning our Christmas day dinner, thousands more are looking ahead to a day without a hot meal. Darren Clabby, 47, was facing that reality until a Big Lottery Fund project stepped into help.

Here he explains how Fresh Start, an Edinburgh based charity, helped him set up his new home and gave him hope for the future:

“This time last year I was about to lose my home”, says Darren from Edinburgh. “I had been self employed as a joiner for 15 years but then the recession hit and I lost my job. Christmas wasn’t a time for celebration.”

Darren’s story is reflective of recent research which suggests that one in four employed people in Scotland could be one pay cheque away from losing their home.


Darren Clabby (left) volunteering at the Fresh Start allotment

He continues: “I never thought I would find myself in that position. Things snowballed and my wife and I split. Finally, in May this year I lost my house. I was lucky enough to be able to stay with friends and family for short periods of time but I had no where to call home.”

Without a fixed address, Darren also found himself unable to secure a job. Things looked bleak until Dunedin Canmore housing association got him a long term lease on unfurnished flat.

“Losing my house was tough but in hindsight was actually my fresh start”, Darren says. “It’s when I came in contact with Fresh Start. Their office was just across the road and they gave me a starter pack for my new home which was a lifeline. As part of that they gave me a cooker. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to have a hot meal, which most people take for granted.”

Keen to give something back, Darren began volunteering at Fresh Start’s Food Station allotment where
he was able to put his skills to good use. In January he’ll also become a volunteer for their Hit Squad service, helping other former homeless people to decorate their new homes.

“Fresh Start was there to help me when I needed it most”, says Darren. “I want to give something back and volunteering is a great way to help others going through what I experienced.

“For the first time in years I won’t be worrying at Christmas. It will be a cause for celebration and something that I can finally look forward to.”

Fresh Start received £104,130 from our Support and Connect fund to provide starter packs and household goods to people moving out of homelessness and into their own tenancies in Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian. Over 8,000 packs are distributed each year to around 2,000 new tenants. The project also offers cooking classes and access to an allotment which enable people to learn new skills.

It was one of 122 projects to share in over £19 million from the Big Lottery Fund tackling hardship in communities across Scotland.

Awards for All success

December 16, 2014

A project providing horticultural work experience for people with learning difficulties is one of 71 across the country sharing in the latest grants from our Awards for All Scotland programme.

Silver Birch (Scotland) Ltd today receives £9,993 to create a’Body and Mind’ Garden on their site in Milton of Campsie for the benefit of people like Tina Tait, who has moderate learning difficulties.

Tina, 46, has been coming to the project for seven years. She said: “Over the past few years I’ve learned various skills including vegetable cultivation and production.  My confidence and communication with others has also improved and I really like working with the staff at Silver Birch and working with all the various teams here.”

Tina Tait

Tina has developed her skill and confidence thanks to Silver Birch Scotland

The project has also encouraged Tina to think about her plans for the future.  She continued: “Getting my Recognition of Individual Achievement in Horticulture Award a couple of years ago has inspired me to think about completing a SVQ qualification in horticulture. I’m really looking forward to the new garden being completed as it will be a great place for me to learn more and to develop the skills I have already learned.  It will also be a nice area for everyone to relax and chill out during our break times.”

Welcoming the award, Silver Birch (Scotland) Ltd, Business and Development Manager, Mark McCrorie, said: “We are delighted to receive this Awards for All grant, which will allow us to develop this new and exciting project.  When complete, the garden will be an interactive area which will encourage our clients to learn and develop their skills in a relaxing and alternative way.  We aim to promote the garden within the local community and encourage people to visit and learn more about horticulture and the work we do to support people living with a learning disability.  I’d like to thank Awards for All for this grant, without which this project would not have been possible.”

You can find out more about Awards for All and how to apply here.

2014 Communities leaves its mark

December 11, 2014

It was the first dedicated fund in Scotland aimed at creating a lasting legacy from the Glasgow 2014 Games and today, six years on, 2014 Communities makes its final awards. Since 2008 we’ve awarded £6.4 million to 4,180 projects that support grass roots involvement in sport and physical activity – with funding going to every one of Scotland’s local authorities.


2014 legacy graphic

Announcing the final £260,635 investment to 152 sports clubs, schools, scout groups and voluntary organisations,  Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn said: “From developing grassroots sport and physical activity through to encouraging volunteering, our 2014 Communities fund has benefited people of all ages and sporting abilities. It’s a legacy we are proud to leave behind and one which will create stronger, healthier and more sustainable communities in every one of Scotland’s local authority areas.”

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, added: “There are enormous benefits to getting active, both in terms of overall health and mental wellbeing. These grants will make a huge difference to these local projects, enabling even more people to take part in sport and physical activity opportunities that are right on their doorstep. 2014 Communities has been instrumental in delivering a lasting Legacy across Scotland for thousands of communities and I’m pleased it has been so successful.”

Grass track cycling in Moray, street dancing in Midlothian and athletics training for disabled people in East Ayrshire are just just some of the many local projects sharing in the final 2014 Communities awards.

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