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Turning the lense

December 1, 2016

Realising Ambition is our UK-wide £25m programme supporting organisations that help young people to fulfil their potential and avoid pathways into offending. As part of the key learning
emerging from the work so far we asked Realising Ambition’s Programme Manager, Shaun Whelan of Catch 22 to tell us more:

A key aim of Realising Ambition is to learn about what it takes to replicate effective services, improve the evidence base of what works for whom and why in avoiding pathways into offending and to help others ask the right questions about evidence, practice and impact.

In our fifth Programmementoring Insight, Turning the Lens, we argue that focus on organisational readiness to replicate cannot be ignored.  It is a key feature of effective replication and should be held in equal importance to the service itself.  After all, you can have the best intervention in the world but if the organisation is not able to deliver it then the intended outcomes won’t be achieved.  It would be like trying to drive a formula one car through Glasgow’s rush hour.  It might draw you some admiring glances but it wouldn’t get you very far.  So Turning the Lens outlines the characteristics an organisation needs to replicate a service effectively.  It considers how organisational ability can be assessed and how improvements can be identified, irrespective of the replication model being used.   

Scotland gives us rich mix of organisations contributing to Realising Ambition’s narrative, all with a different focus and emphasis.  Ranging from the large (YMCA Scotland) to the very large (Action for Children and Barnardo’s) to the small, compact, yet beautifully formed (Children’s Parliament and the Anne Frank Trust).

And the experience of Scottish partners has told us that replicating services successfully requires the right people working within an organisational framework that actively supports and enables them to adapt and improve services.  Organisations do this by making sure staff are given time and encouragement to reflect and improve on their practice.  Valuable improvements come when organisations actively build relationships with their service users, partners and stakeholders so that they understand the context for their service replication. Delivery organisations can also identify areas for improvement by gathering evidence – we believe that evidence does more than just prove that an organisation or a service works. Strong leadership within organisations enables them to maintain the core elements of the service whilst making the necessary, localised adaptations. And, lastly, strong governance structures that take into account how tough replication can be support leaders to carry out the improvements to their services.



Surprise news for Shettleston community project

November 29, 2016

This is the incredible moment when we surprised the Shettleston Community Growing Project in Glasgow with the news that their Big Lottery Fund application for £127, 986 was successful.


It was a dreich Thursday morning in Glasgow’s east end when Big Lottery Fund Scotland programme manager, Hayley Banks went to meet the amazing people behind Shettleston Community Growing Project. Under the guise of filming them as part of their ongoing application for funding, Hayley soon brightened up their day with the real reason for her visit.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the grant from our Community Led fund will be used to fund a project co-ordinator post and will allow the group to provide more healthy eating, cooking, gardening, volunteering and family fun day activities over the next three years.

Read more…

What a difference a year makes

November 28, 2016

As Dinah Washingtototal-stats-one-year-on-infographicn once sang – what a difference a day makes. Well here at the Big Lottery Fund we’re celebrating the difference a whole year has made, thanks to our new five year funding offer of small, medium and large grants!

One year ago, in November 2015, we launched a brand new £250 million portfolio of funding which included our Community Led and Improving Lives funds. We made our first grants from this new funding portfolio in March 2016 and since then have awarded over £19 million to 128 groups.

But let’s not forget the 1,197 groups that have also benefited from our open small grants programmes – Awards for All and Investing and Ideas – proving that the smallest amounts of money can also make the biggest difference.

From community gardens, healthy eating projects and volunteer led activities within local community centres right through to befriending and mentoring projects for disengaged young people and arts initiatives for people with mental health difficulties, we’ve funded something for everyone across Scotland.

Check out our infographic for an overview of our small, medium and large grants funding in the last year.

So what else has changed for us, and more importantly for the people that have applied to us? Well, with the introduction of medium sized grants (£10,000 to £150,000), we changed the way we worked, to make it easier, simpler and faster for groups to access our funding. For groups applying for under £150,000 this is now a much speedier one stage application process.

This also meant we were able to reach out to new groups many of which had only received small grants previously or indeed had never applied before.

And we refined our focus by asking groups applying for medium and large grants to tell us in their application form how their project meets one of our three approachespeople led, strengths based and connected within their community.

If you are interested in applying for our funding and want to find out more, visit our website or email our advice team.

Here’s to year two and many more successful applications for Big Lottery funding!

The strength of Resonate

November 25, 2016

In the second of a series of blogs focussing on our three approaches, we feature Resonate, a social enterprise that sums up our strength based approach.

Resonate is a vibrant community-led group which received a Big Lottery Fund grant of £149,920 in April this year to build their staff complement. This will allow them to expand on the range of activities that allow local people to learn skills, meet people, share abilities, start a new business, volunteer, have some fun and increase their wellbeing…the list goes on.

resonate-blogsWhat Big Lottery Fund Scotland loves about this project:

Every person who gets involved at Resonate, at any level, is recognised not by their needs and issues but by their unique strengths, potential and personal journey. Every person has their own unique story of how Resonate has helped them flourish and become more resilient. This is made possible by the flexibility Resonate embodies in their day to day activities. This means that if you’ve got an idea (no matter how unusual!) they find a way to try it and support it, but if you also just want a cup of tea and a chat there’s always time and space found for that too.

How they did it:

Angela Beardsley founded Resonate in 2010 when a group of like-minded people came together to create a space in Clackmannanshire for creative experimentation and the cultivation of ideas. She said: “Resonate is an amazing collection of people from all walks of life who genuinely care about the organisation.  We are a probably a bit of a ‘weird fish’ in that we are totally community-driven, so Resonate is what the community needs it to be.   This can make us difficult to label, but that, I think, is our strength; Resonate never stays still, and is always adapting to what the community want.

Our ‘everyone can’ ethos enables people of all abilities, ages and background to join our team, which includes individuals with a variety of mental ill health, physical disabilities such as autism through to parkinsons, to get involved and share their strengths.

We have been self-funded for such a long time, sustaining the social enterprise through a range of services which the community have a hand in.  However, the funding from the Big Lottery Fund has enabled us to take on staff with a view to providing more of what is needed and to ensuring that we can continue to serve the community long into the future.”

If Resonate has inspired you and you have an idea for funding, you might be interested in one of our funding advice webinars that we will be running in December.

Book your place on our Community Led webinar on Tuesday 6 December or

Book your place on our Improving Lives webinar on Friday 9 December

Planning to apply for grants for improving lives and community-led activity – November 2016

November 24, 2016

One year ago grants for improving lives and grants for community-led activity took a different approach on applying for funding. Instead of completing an application straightaway, applicants can have a conversation with us.

What’s the process?

We want to help applicants upfront so you know if you’re eligible and your activity is suitable. To provide this service, we are asking organisations to contact us. This is predominantly done by phone (0300 123 7110) or email.Artcore - Lifted - Access support to disabled 10 (1)

Once you contact us we will go through the essential parts. For example, what type of organisation are you, what amount of funding do you need and what your activity is. We’ll also go through our ‘three approaches’ with you.

This isn’t an assessment – it’s the start of our conversation with you on this funding.

What happens at the end of this conversation?

We will usually speak to you for 10-15 minutes. After this, we tend to give one of three recommendations:

  1. Encouraging news! We feel that you have potential so we will email or post you an application form.
  2. Potential but come back to us – we recognise there could be merit in going onto an application. Nonetheless, we might suggest to work through the sample application and think through our suggestions. Then, please come back to us.
  3. Unfortunately not on this occasion – although we want to fund applications for communities, we can’t fund as much as we would like to. Therefore, if we do not feel there is not enough potential, we will let you know this and the reason/s why. Don’t forget you can still come back to us with another idea for an activity. This funding is available for the next four years so there is plenty of time.

12I want an application now. Will you send me one if I ask for it?

If you are ready to apply and we’ve discussed its potential we will be more than happy to send one. If you want to refer to an application before then, a sample application is available. This should also be used if you’re still in the early stages of planning out your work – it’s probably the best place to start.

Where are the sample applications?

There are three in total and are all on our website. There is one each for medium and large grants for improving lives and a separate one for medium grants for community-led activity. On these pages, go down to ‘Related Documents’ (near the bottom) and you will find the sample there.

What are the success rates?

The most recent success rates are from decisions made between 1 September 2016 and 31 October 2016. Grants for community-led activity is 55%. Grants for improving lives (medium) is 41%.

For grants for improving lives (large), the stage one applications also had a 41% success rate.

Any other questions?

We are available on 0300 123 7110, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can email us.

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