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FOURTEEN charity and voluntary sector infrastructure organisations across the UK are to receive a share of £600,000 to enhance their digital capabilities and become fit for the future, The National Lottery Community Fund has announced this week.

New Infrastructure ProgrammeThe money, from the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will support both established and emerging infrastructure organisations to become more flexible, resilient and responsive to the changing environment whilst also renewing their relevance and be better able to support communities.

Cassie Robinson, Deputy Director for Funding Strategy at The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

“We’re delighted that thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to support a range of established and emerging infrastructure organisations with the opportunity, space and time to plan for the future.

“We understand that for grassroots, community-led and frontline organisations across the UK to be adaptive and resilient, there’s a need for a diverse and effective support system, which includes infrastructure organisations, and this is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

One of the organisations to receive National Lottery funding from the New Infrastructure programme is Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE). It has been awarded £50,000 to understand and interpret data so it can better advocate for the interests of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector and connect with its members.

Carol Botten, Chief Executive of VONNE, said:

“This National Lottery funding is allowing us to develop and embed improvements in our use of data and – crucially – share our experiences and learning with the North East VCSE sector. Data was always an area we wanted to focus on but never had the time or capacity to give it the attention it deserves. This funding enables us to do just that and will make a huge difference to our long-term sustainability and the service we can offer to our members.

“We represent over 1,200 member charities, voluntary organisations and community groups from across the region, from very small volunteer groups, up to multi-million-pound charities and everything in between. Through improving our understanding and use of data, we will be strengthening our offering to the VCSE sector and can share our learnings to benefit all members.”

Shape London’s Unlimited programme embeds work by disabled artists within the UK to reach new audiences and shift perceptions of disabled people. As Unlimited moves from a programme to an independent organisation, the group is using its £45,000 National Lottery grant to develop its own structures, policies, and practices.

David Hevey, CEO of Shape, said:

“This vital funding has allowed Shape to sustain the flexibility of our Unlimited programme. It is not only enabling us to continue breaking barriers to creative excellence but to innovate and collaborate in bigger and more exciting ways than ever before. At a time of such precarity and disruption for marginalised creatives, we extend our sincerest gratitude to The National Lottery Community Fund for investing in the inclusive future, we are excited to be building.”

Another organisation receiving National Lottery funding today includes Brighton-based Friends, Families and Travellers, which is using a grant of almost £50,000 to maintain a directory of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller specialist services and provide a range of training and support to the community.

Sarah Mann, Director of Gypsy, Roma Travellers said:

“During COVID-19, we have seen grassroots, community-led, and frontline organisations take the lead in work to ensure Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people have the support they need during the pandemic. Over the next year, we want to build on our learning, strengthen our work with others and work together to ensure the needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people are understood and acted upon as the country goes into recovery mode following the pandemic. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund for making this work possible.”

The New Infrastructure programme, part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s Digital Fund, hopes to stimulate a conversation around the ways infrastructure can reinvent itself for the digital age and the kind of resource and support it needs. The grant holders announced today will also receive coaching, expertise and practical advice in the form of ‘Design Labs’, which will see organisations deliver development support.

The Digital Fund, and today’s announcement, is a key part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s commitment to enabling civil society to be fit for the future – supporting organisations and the voluntary sector to create opportunities to help local communities thrive. This programme builds on The National Lottery Community Fund’s previous experience of supporting the voluntary sector’s digital transition, which extends back over a decade. 

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.

charitytoday.co.uk | 12 March 2021

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