“Across the country we see families and communities in difficulty, dealing with greater challenges and struggling to cope with the financial, emotional and physical pressures of day to day life.
“Enabling people to navigate these challenges is at the heart of our work at BIG. Using funds raised by the National Lottery, we support communities who are at the greatest disadvantage so they become better able to develop or access the support, facilities and services they need to maintain and improve their quality of life. The latest Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) report, published last month, offers a sobering view of daily family life for many in our communities, and at BIG we believe that we can do more to help.
“The GUS report highlighted that many families with young children are worse off than they were in 2005/6, 37% of the poorest families are experiencing severe material hardship and a quarter of families with young children are living on an income of less than £11,000 a year. We know from evidence and experience the lasting damage that financial stress can cause, from material deprivation to relationship and family breakdown, to longer-term impacts on educational attainment and physical and mental health.
“Alongside others, the Big Lottery Fund wants to help prevent this where we can and alleviate it where that’s possible. To begin to do that we are making £10 million available for our Support and Connect fund over the next two years. The fund aims to do two things: improve local support for people experiencing hardship; and help organisations working with these communities get better connected so that people dealing with complex problems can get the blend of support they need.
“Our research tells us that more people are facing challenging times. Many organisations on the ground report increased demand for support with basic needs and welfare and financial advice. Over the last few months we have seen powerful examples of people, community groups and organisations who have been moved to help people around them who are struggling. These include people and community groups coming to us for funding for soup kitchens, breakfast clubs, food banks, access to white goods and clothes; we want to help those helpers meet the demand they are facing, and be better connected to each other.
“We are also aware that there’s sometimes a lack of knowledge about what’s available locally and that services aren’t always as connected as they could be. It’s clear that better connections between key local services, formal and informal, could help ensure fewer people ‘fall through the gaps’ and miss out on the help, support or advice that could make all the difference to them. We’ve seen some great examples of local partnerships – for example, housing associations working with advice providers, family support charities working with furniture recycling projects – and we would like to support much more of this kind of collaboration in communities across Scotland.
“Support and Connect opens today (March 21, 2013) and it complements the longer term approach which continues with funding available through our Investing in Communities portfolio. It is our hope that our funding will ensure that for some, these challenging times are not quite as difficult as they might have been.”
For more information on Support & Connect go to: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/supportandconnect