Stoke-on-Trent community groups hit jackpot with £4m bonus
COMMUNITY groups benefited from a lottery windfall of more than £4.8 million last year.
A total of 51 grants were awarded across the city to boost arts, heritage projects and community groups.
Now, National Lottery organisers are hoping to acknowledge the work done by the recipients at an award ceremony.
Grants were awarded to the following organisations:
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Stoke-on-Trent Citizens Advice Bureau was given £780,000 to help social housing residents gain greater financial confidence;
Blurton-based training and resource provider BASE 87 Community Interest Company received £374,000 to fund learning activities to boost self-esteem and confidence;
Bentilee Volunteers Community Association received £300,000 for its Neighbourlink project, which encourages older residents to socialise;
Longton's Gingerbread Centre, which provides flats for homeless parents and their children was awarded £300,000 to expand its services;
A grant of £32,000 was given to Hartshill Park to rejuvenate its 19th century Convent Pools;
The Hanley-based Staffordshire Adult Autistic Society received more than £190,000 to help it continue to support people with the condition;
Port Vale FC's Community Trust was given £9,700 towards the running of its community activity programme.
Angela Locker, co-ordinator of Bentilee's Neighbourlink project, said the lottery cash would help to pay the salary of nine staff for the next five years.
The 66-year-old, of Rough Close, said: "We provide activities three-days-a-week for about 100 older people in the area. For many it is a real lifeline.
"We received £32,000 from the lottery in 2005 and that helped us purchase an adapted mini-bus to transport people around. We also provide work placements for people with learning difficulties and younger people who are unemployed."
Since The National Lottery started in 1994, players have raised over £29 billion for good causes and more than 390,000 grants have been awarded across the UK.
The Big Lottery Fund started in 2004 to distribute a proportion of the cash and has handed out more than £4.4 billion to 130,000 projects across the UK.
A total of 873 of those are in the Potteries where £40.8 million has been dished out.
Among the former recipients is The Unity Project – a community youth project, which received £275,000 last August.
Organisers used the cash to fund an initiative to target teenagers at risk of being excluded from school. Since receiving the cash, 100 youngsters have been helped.
Unity director Matt Wilcox said: "We wanted to do some work to reduce the level of exclusions and we put our idea to the Big Lottery, who bought into it.
"We try to engage young people through things like art and music so they can channel themselves in positive things."
The annual National Lottery Awards will recognise organisations in a range of categories including sport, heritage, arts, environment, health, education and voluntary.
For more information visit www.nationallotteryawards.org.uk or call 0207 293 3599. Entries must be received by 9am on March 19.