Big Lottery Fund Helps Community Groups Save Money


A Newcastle community organisation will be able to save money during the recession and run more activities for local people in its venue thanks to a grants windfall from the Big Lottery Fund.

Newcastle Regeneration Association is one of two groups in the Down area awarded grants totalling over £19,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Energy Efficient Venues programme. The programme, which is now closed for applications, offers Lottery cash to local groups to carry out improvements to their community venues so they make savings on their heating and lighting costs and cut down on their spending.

The group has been awarded a grant of £10,000 to put new windows and doors into the former church in which it is based and to replace their inefficient storage heaters with new ones.

“The association was set up 10 years ago and is located in the heart of town in The Belfry which dates back to the 1830s,” explained Association Secretary Carmel O’Boyle. “When a new church was built 40 years ago, the Belfry was used as a youth club, but had been closed for ten years before the Regeneration Association moved in.

“It was dilapidated, but over time we’ve updated and improve the venue and we’ll now be able to use this grant to carry out further energy saving improvements.

“The core of our activity is an indoor skate park on the ground floor but we also have an internet cafe and meeting rooms. These are used by a range of community groups and a lot of young men come here for the adult education classes and we are also used by youth and women’s groups.

“We offer facilities to community groups at cost price, but because the building is heated by storage heaters our electricity bills are exorbitant. We hope that as well as improving energy efficiency by replacing the windows and doors, we will be able to install a much more energy efficient heating system. This will allow us to put more money into the activities we offer the local community.”

Another group in Down District also benefited from the Big Lottery Fund. The Inch Orange Hall has also been awarded £9,188 to carry out a number of energy saving improvements to their rural community hall between Crossgar and Downpatrick.

Built in 1848, it was last renovated in 1966. The groups who now use it for meetings, band practice and various parties and community functions, have to put up with wind whistling through the old wooden sash windows and have only an open fire and two electric heaters providing warmth.

The project involves replacing windows with PVC double glazed units, installing a new combination oil fired energy efficient heating system, radiators and a time clock. Treasurer Trevor Lennon said: “These improvements will make the hall much easier to heat and more comfortable for the groups who use it. This will help reduce our energy bills, saving money which can be put back into the activities we offer local people.”

Frank Hewitt, the Big Lottery Fund’s NI Chair said: “The Energy Efficient Venues programme supports community organisations to carry out energy efficiency improvements to their venues that help them make savings during this difficult period of recession, and have a positive effect on the environment.

“This has been a very popular programme and we have awarded grants to a range of organisations across Northern Ireland. Organisations should be aware that the programme is now closed for applications.”

The Energy Efficient Venues programme is now closed for applications.

To find about more about the programme and see all the recipients, visit:


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