The Big Lottery Fund has opened a major new funding programme to benefit people across Northern Ireland, including in the Ballycastle area.
The People and Communities programme will invest £60 million over the next five years to support voluntary, community and social enterprise groups to work with local people to make the changes they want in their communities.
Rathlin Development and Community Association is one of the groups already putting people in the lead. The group, which was formed by a group of residents in 1978, have used previous funding from the Big Lottery Fund to build on their strengths to improve infrastructure and build connections. They received a grant of £373,928 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme in 2008. They used this to improve services for residents through volunteering and building partnerships with public and voluntary agencies on the mainland.
Michael Cecil, Chairperson of Rathlin Development and Community Association, said, “We began to look at how to connect with other community groups, and to support new groups like the senior citizens group on Rathlin. This gave people a focus on the social side of things and brought the community closer together and made it stronger.
“People started to be more positive about Rathlin, and residents and officials wanted to work with us to make changes. All that work has brought a huge improvement in services on the island. Population has increased, tourism has increased.”
More information about the People and Communities programme can be found on our website, www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/northernireland.