People in the Lead - Big Lottery and Community Councils

Big Lottery Fund logoIn 2015 The Big Lottery Fund launched its new Strategic Framework. Our new strategic framework sets out what people can expect from us as a funder over the next six years. Our vision is that People should be in the Lead in improving their lives and communities. Our approach will focus on the skills, assets and energy that people can draw upon and the potential in their ideas.


We feel that strong, vibrant communities can be built and renewed by the people living in them – making them ready for anything in the face of future opportunities and challenges.


From this starting point I am sure that community councils can already see how they can potentially share this agenda.


The following list represents a very small example of the type of activities that community councils across Scotland have already been undertaking thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund:


  • Create a fully equipped play area within the community for young people
  • Improve the health of local men through the introduction of a weight management programme, physical activity sessions and health education.
  • Organise a gala day, bringing local people of all ages together.
  • Replace the roof of the Village Hall to ensure the building continues to be available to the community.
  • Provide beginner and advanced IT training courses in the local community.
  • Create a new community garden


This is a sample of some of the 119 community council projects that The Fund has invested in over the last five years in Scotland. The vast majority of these grants (97%) were for £10,000 or less, and it shows how small amounts of money can make a significant impact.


The majority of our grants to community councils are made through our small grants programme, Awards for All Scotland, which allows some flexibility in terms of the type of project that can be funded and the type of organisation applying. In addition the application process for Awards for All is short (six weeks) and the application form is more modest than other programmes.


Since November 2015 Big Lottery Fund has equally launched a new portfolio of funding programmes which fits into our new vision of People in the Lead. The new portfolio introduces the three new approaches that we believe are vital to help us achieve our mission and address inequality in Scotland, and we will fund activity that embraces these. They Include People-Led, Strengths-based, and Connected.


The new portfolio includes:


  • Grants for Improving Lives (medium and large grants) - Many people experience challenges at some point in their lives and we want to support activity that helps them overcome these difficulties and become more resilient.
  • Grants for Community-Led activity (medium grants) - This funding aims to support communities to improve to the places they live and the wellbeing of those most in need.
  • Community Assets (large grants) - Through Community Assets grants, we aim to empower people to create strong and resilient communities by helping them to acquire, manage or develop assets such as buildings or land.


The eligibility rules for some of these programmes and the types of activities you can get funding for are more restrictive than Awards for All Scotland. In my experience community councils have found it more difficult and less likely to be successful in securing funding to our medium or larger grants as the types of activities involved are usually over several years and involves the hiring of staff.


However, if the local community is uniting around a particular issue (such as the need for a community hall etc) and the community council would like to act on this then I can suggest that the community council could look at the possibility of forming a local development trust separate to the community council itself. The Development Trusts Association Scotland is a good place to start for information about this.


We recognise that community councils very often wish to better their communities. We also recognise that often they do not realise that they can get funding, or how simple it can be to get funding, to help them along. The Big Lottery Fund feels that strong, vibrant communities can be built and renewed by the people living in them and community councils can be part of that process.


In conclusion, I recommend that any community council interested in getting funding from Big Lottery Fund Scotland start by calling our BIG Advice team on 0300 123 7110 or e-mail them at advicescotland@biglotteryfund.org.uk. The members of the advice team will be able to help in determining whether the activity that wishes to be funded is eligible and which funding stream would be most appropriate. I can honestly say that we are always happy to have a chat, so please do not hesitate to give us a call if you are interested in funding.


Do you have any questions about getting funding or experience of applying for funding? You can share your knowledge or ask questions in the Knowledge Hub group.*


* Please note if you are not already a member of this group, you will be asked to register.


Andrew Lindsay is Policy and Public Affairs Advisor at Big Lottery Fund Scotland

Andrew Lindsay, Policy and Public Affairs Advisor at Big Lottery Fund Scotland

Dialogue story posted: 24/07/2016

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