Down Groups Win In People’s Projects Competition

The public have voted and two groups in Newry and Dromore in County Down have been announced as two of the winners of the People’s Projects competition in Northern Ireland.

The Big Lottery Fund teamed up with UTV and The National Lottery to give the Northern Ireland public the chance to decide how £150,000 of funding could make a difference in their local area.

Newry and Mourne Down Syndrome Support Group has won £49,955 of National Lottery funding in the Big Lottery Fund’s People’s Projects for their Down Right Brilliant Youth Club project. Pictured holding the cheque in the centre are Joanne McDowell, Lottery Fund Director for Northern Ireland and Mairead Robb, DRBYC at Altnaveigh House in Newry.

In Northern Ireland, five projects were shortlisted for National Lottery funding to develop their work to improve the lives of people in their communities. The projects – which have all featured on UTV Live, Daily Mirror NI and Belfast Live – campaigned to the public for votes over a two week period. The three projects with the most votes have been awarded up to £50,000 each.

One of the winners is the Down Right Brilliant Youth Club project by Newry & Mourne Downs Syndrome Support Group in Newry. They will receive £49,955 to set up a youth club for children and young adults with Down’s Syndrome and their siblings. The project will offer activities that the young people will help decide on including dance, circus skills, football and outings. The activities will reduce isolation, build friendships and give the young people a place to call their own where they can go and have fun.

Mairead Robb, chairperson of Newry & Mourne Down Syndrome Support Group said: “We’re absolutely delighted. This means so much to our children and young people. The youth club will be a great social outlet for them, and we’ll be able to do other activities as well like run a summer scheme.

“We want to thank the Big Lottery Fund, UTV and the National Lottery but we also want to say a big thanks to our family, friends and the public who came out and voted for us. We are overwhelmed with the support we received.”

The second winner in Down is the Food for the Soul project by Via Wings in Dromore. They will receive £48,900 for a year-long catering and hospitality and work placement programme for young people and adults facing issues including unemployment and learning disability.

Lottery Winners Dromore, Food For Thought, Gail Redmond (centre) the founder, celebrates with staff, board members and service users. Via Wings in Dromore has won £48,900 of National Lottery funding.

“This will take place mainly in their social enterprise coffee shop at the Olive Branch in Dromore. They will learn how to prepare meals, and do training in fire safety and first aid. They will also distribute meals to vulnerable local people. The project will support people to gain new skills, and increase their confidence.

Gail Redmond, founder of Via Wings, said: “As a faith based organisation we can’t put into words the difference this will make to the people involved, their families and the wider community.

“This support will help people develop their skills, give them hope for the future and live up to their full potential. The heart of what we do is community, so we want to thank everyone who voted, campaigned and supported us in any way.”

More information on each of the projects is available at:

Since 2005, around £39 million has been awarded through the Big Lottery Fund, The National Lottery and ITV/STV partnership to 865 Good Causes across the UK.