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Lived Experience Leaders receive National Lottery funding to tackle social issues in response to COVID-19

THE National Lottery Community Fund has announced £2.4million of funding going to 48 projects across the UK as part of its Leaders with Lived Experience programme.  

The National Lottery funding, from the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will support organisations to embed better experts by experience in all aspects of operations – including making it central to COVID-19 response, recovery and renewal. It will also enable the Fund and the wider sector to continue learning about how people with first-hand experience can become leaders, and how funders can support them.

Projects funded span a range of themes and issues, including helping those who experience addiction to progress and make the transition to senior leadership roles; empowering women through peer support groups and training to tackle entrenched issues and barriers in their communities; and providing a developmental pathway to prisoners on their release.

One of the projects to receive funding, Changing Tunes, is using a £55,000 National Lottery grant to set-up a record label in Bristol specifically for ex-prisoners, encouraging them to break free from the stigma of their past and establish themselves in the music industry.

Cameron Harper had previously taken part in Changing Tunes music programmes while in prison and is now using his experience to run the new label as an Executive.

Cameron Harper, Executive of Red Tangent Records, said:

“We want to set-up a record label with a difference, it will act as an incubator for musicians, giving them tailored developmental support so they can advance their work and thrive in a changing industry.

“The record label is so important for many reasons; one it’s giving people a chance to be recognised for their skills and abilities and not be judged by their past because no one wants to be identified as a prisoner or ex-prisoner forever. Hand in hand with that, I hope that it will change people’s perspective of what it means to be an ex-prisoner – people find themselves in difficult situations and have to make difficult choices – but everyone still deserves a positive future. I think that’s the most powerful message of this label.”

Excel Women’s Association, based in East London, has received £55,000 to train over 100 women to tackle entrenched issues and barriers in their community and empower them to feel strong and brave in the pursuit of their rights.

The charity was set up by Zahra Ibrahim, a child refugee from the Somali Civil War to help women find their voice and become campaigners in their own lives.

Zahra Ibrahim, Director of Excel Women’s Association, explained:

“The project, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, is going to empower women and girls to make a difference in their community, bringing women of different backgrounds together to share their knowledge and skills, and give them a voice. Many local women possess a wealth of lived experience – refugee/asylum seekers, domestic abuse, gender stereotyping – and we will train and support these women to become activists and leaders for other women facing similar issues.”

Lancashire-based Red Rose Recovery is using £48,000 in National Lottery funding to provide structure and stability to the lives of local people struggling with addictions, so they can progress to senior leadership roles within the organisation and beyond.

Peter Yarwood, Strategic Engagement Lead of Red Rose Recovery, said:

“Through the programme, we get to the root of why people are getting in crisis, not manage the crisis for them and through this they can advance to being involved in purposeful, meaningful activities in life. More than 90% of our staff is made up of people with lived experience, and we want this programme to help others experience progress in their lives and free themselves from the stigma of their past. We want to give them a stake in society and be positive about the impact they can have in the future.”

Cassie Robinson, Senior Head of UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players, people with lived experience will use their unique expertise to lead social change and help their communities to thrive. This is vital in response to – and eventually the recovery from – COVID-19. We know that supporting those with first-hand experience to become leaders is a key enabler for civil society to do more, help more people, and for the sector to continue to make a positive impact.”

The Lived Experience Leadership programme was developed using learning and insights from the pilot programme run in 2019 and is a key part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s commitment to enabling civil society to be fit for the future.

By Summer 2020, the 20 projects funded as part of the pilot programme had created leadership opportunities for over 1,250 people with lived experience. Other key learnings from the pilot programme include;

  • the value of Lived Experience Leadership in policy and service development; supporting the visibility and development of existing leaders as well as supporting emerging and aspiring leaders;
  • the ability of lived experience-led organisations to influence at a strategic level is not held back by a lack of ability, but rather access, and the lack of time and capacity to undertake this work;
  • the need for network development at a personal, organisational and national strategic level, and investment in peer to peer networks and formal network building;
  • While many organisations suspended services during the outbreak of COVID-19, many of the lived experience-led organisations were able to pivot their services as they were not rooted in bureaucracy and were adaptable, flexible and driven to support and create change for their communities.

National Lottery players raise £30 million a week for good causes. In 2020 The National Lottery Community Fund distributed over £650 million to community projects across the UK.

To find out more, please visit: www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk.

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