Tag Archives: big lottery fund

The Big Lottery Fund: Making a BIG Comms impact

The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for distributing 40% of money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. Communications Officer, Rosie Dent tells us how one communications campaign is having a meaningful, measurable impact.

A photo of Rosie Dent, which she used for her Lottery Selfie

Rosie Dent’s #LotterySelfie

In Wales, we award around £100,000 a day to projects that aim to improve the lives of people and communities most in need. Last year, we launched our strategic framework for 2015-21 which 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.

As a Communications Team, we feel that one of the best ways we can put people in the lead is by putting them in the spotlight and to give them the tools to promote the fantastic work they’re doing, no matter how big or small that may be. This thinking led to us launching our #LotterySelfie campaign.

The campaign has two strands, one is to encourage projects to share images with us using the #LotterySelfie hashtag. The aim is that by us sharing these images, projects can potentially reach new audiences. This strand of the campaign has been running since January 2016 and has up to 600,000 impressions each week on Twitter.

The second strand of the campaign is our ‘Surprise Lottery Letter’. Every year our staff assess thousands of applications and send out thousands of letters notifying applicant’s that their grant application has been successful. With such a huge volume, it can be easy to forget how truly life changing Lottery funding can be to communities in Wales. That’s what led to us thinking, why don’t we get more staff visiting projects and make the projects feel special by delivering some of the grant offer letters by hand?

The organisation we surprised for our first Surprise Lottery Letter was NuHi Ltd in Cardiff who provide substance misuse awareness, education and training for the wider community. They will use the £4,775 grant to create an IT room and website so people recovering from substance misuse can access information and support. The surprise was delivered to Holly, a volunteer who came out of rehab that very same day. We kept the surprise simple, all we took with us was a tablet, an offer letter and of course, a giant cheque (because who doesn’t dream of receiving a giant cheque?), making it an extremely low budget campaign, costing nothing except staff time.

 

What was the outcome for NuHi?

When asked how she felt about the surprise, Founder Yaina said: “The volunteers are still buzzing, they’re on yet another NuHi”. Yaina felt that staff morale has increased since the surprise.

Within two weeks of the surprise, social media exposure directly resulted in another organisations approaching them about to do some work in partnership and an invitation to guest speak at an entrepreneurial event.

The exposure also led to public donations being made, leading to NuHi setting up a pledge button on their website. We feel this is an extremely positive outcome for NuHi as donations could increase the organisations sustainability. It also led to three new enquiries being made for support from people recovering from substance misuse.

A photo of people involved with NuHi Ltd.

NuHi Ltd.

What there an impact on staff at the Big Lottery Fund?

Liz Hertogs who assessed the application and filmed the surprise told us, “It was my first ever project visit so it was great to meet one of our grant holders, and we were able to give them our offer pack and talk about what happens next at the same time. To be there when they found out they have been funded by us was truly special.”

Positive comments from staff and committee members about the video flooded in, we’ve never seen staff so excited about a communications product before! For days you could overhear staff talking about it around the office, it truly felt like it created a buzz around both of our offices, in Cardiff and Newtown. And that buzz was infectious, comments came in from Big Lottery Fund teams in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as Camelot and the National Lottery’s Good Causes team.

What coverage did the video receive?

Within days the video had been seen by over 8,800 people on Facebook, making it one of our best ever performing post on the platform. Social media content was shared by the National Assembly for Wales, Lottery Good Causes and We Are Cardiff, to name a few.

The video and story of volunteer Holly were featured on Wales Online, the article was shared on social media over 340 times.

Reflection

As other Communications teams likely find, it can often be difficult to evidence the outcomes of your work, especially hard outcomes. However the impact of this campaign has been incredible and exceeded our expectations. Many of the outcomes, such as public donations and enquiries for support from the project where unexpected and demonstrate how communications, especially digital media, can add value to have a meaningful impact on an organisation and communities.

If you would like to find out more about the Big Lottery Fund Wales, please visit our website, follow @BigLotteryWales on Twitter or like Big Lottery Fund Wales on Facebook.

Gwesty Seren: Effective asset transfer and a new way of providing respite care

As we live in challenging economic times, it’s likely that a lot of voluntary organisations and Town and Community Councils will have community assets transferred to them. Dyfrig Williams visited Gwesty Seren to hear the lessons learnt from their community asset transfer and how they deliver respite care.

We are often signposted to examples of good practice, but it’s not so often that we hear about a project with good practice to share for a few different reasons.

We went to Gwesty Seren, a hotel based in Gwynedd that offers supported holidays, to learn about how it’s been transferred successfully to the community. But I also had a broader interest in how they’re providing respite care in a very different way.

The charity’s work

Picture of Gwesty Seren

Gwesty Seren

Seren is a charity that is based in Blaenau Ffestiniog, which provides care for people with learning difficulties. The charity was founded 20 years ago under Care in the Community, with the aim of supporting people to move out of institutions and into the community. People create craft and art, which is then sold in the shop and market garden. This helped people to be independent so that they didn’t rely on fees from Gwynedd Council or private individuals, and it also gives them a chance to get a taste of work. This mentality has continued at Gwesty Seren, where they provide work experience.

Gwesty Seren decided to go further than standard respite care. They wanted to provide a different kind of care, so they created a 3 star hotel with a focus on supporting disabled people. The toilets and rooms have been developed so that they are accessible to everyone.

The hotel also allows families to stay there. Their research showed that a lot of families have received poor respite care in the past, so they weren’t happy to leave their children’s care entirely in the hands of someone they didn’t know. The hotel allows them to stay with their children if they want, but whilst also giving them the break they need. This unique service means that the hotel also provides spaces for people who receive services from nearby councils, like Conwy and Ceredigion, with families even travelling to stay from across the border in England.

The success of the hotel has led to it working with three companies that specialise in holidays for people with learning difficulties, and recently, two further companies that specialise in holidays for physically disabled people began using the facilities. The people who have stayed there often end up coming back and making a block booking.

A photograph of a room at Gwesty Seren

A room at Gwesty Seren

The history of the building

The building itself was originally built by Lord Newborough in 1728 as a summer house. It stayed like this until just after the First World War, when the family took in soldiers who had had an accident or shock in the war to have a break or respite.

In the 1930s the building was given to two Franciscan Monks. They invited homeless people to stay, with the youngest monk travelling to London to invite people to stay at Bryn Llywelyn, as it was called at the time. Then the building was sold to Meirionnydd Council as a residential house for children, before being turned into an old people’s home. In 2010 the Council decided to close it.

Seren made a bid for the building to the Welsh Government and the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Asset Transfer Fund. A full application was submitted, before the work began in 2013. The work was completed in April 2014.

Transferring the building

Usually the transfer of assets from the public sector take place free of charge, but in this case, the council decided to sell the building at less than the market price. The council had to go through committees and raise awareness through the media, so it was not a quick process.

The cost of everything, including the purchase, was around £1,000,000, and applying for grants was a laborious process. Because it required a significant amount, the charity went on to borrow from the Charity Bank.

They were aware that questions would be asked about State Aid, so the charity hired a Cardiff law firm that specialised in it. A report was written on minimising the risk and the document showed the rationale for why it did not break the rules. It was a great help when working with European Officers and the Welsh European Funding Office.

Key messages

So one of the main message from Gwesty Seren is that asset transfer isn’t a quick process. But it’s clear by looking at the comments on their TripAdvisor page that the hard work has been worth it. And from the testimonials of other customers (whether it’s directly to the hotel or in a newsletter), I can see that their respite care that has a big impact on people’s lives, has helped the regeneration of  Blaenau Ffestiniog by creating 10 full time jobs and is actively contributing to the area’s tourist industry.