My Lottery Grant Win: A Case Study
Gill Toynton was alarmed at the run-down state of her local village hall, but unsure what to do about it. A talk with a friend, however, gave her an idea.
The Village Hall“Shortly after my husband and I moved, I thought it would be a good idea to run a fortnightly bring-and-buy charity sale at the local village hall. This is something I’d done where I previously lived.
“The moment I walked into the village hall, however, I was horrified. The place was bitterly cold and smelled strongly of damp. Many of the windows were broken and draughty, and some of the timber was rotten.
“I found out that the parish council was responsible for the upkeep of the hall. When I contacted the council, however, it was clear that there was no money to make any repairs. My idea for a bring-and-buy sale – and for any other project at the hall - was clearly a non-starter.
A Useful Discussion“That weekend, a friend came to stay. She happened to mention a project she was involved with that had received national lottery funding.
“Although my friend’s project was about a crèche for local children, it gave me an idea. Perhaps I could secure lottery funding for the repairs to the village hall?
The Big Lottery Fund“Frankly, I had no idea where to start, but my friend told me to look online. I‘m not good with a computer, but I found a site called the Big Lottery Fund. This is where you can read up about lottery grants.
“The Big Lottery Fund took me in turn to a site called Awards for All. This deals with lottery funding for local community projects. The amount you apply for can be anything from £300 to £10,000.
“I printed the application form and the guidance notes that were on the website. I then contacted the parish council again, and made my proposal to seek lottery funding for repairs to the village hall and the provision of basic heating.
“The people on the council I met were friendly but not very enthusiastic. Nonetheless I convinced them to let me complete the application on their behalf.
The Application“As it happens, I had to involve the parish council every step of the way because the application had to have a lot of supporting information. This included details of the parish council’s accounts.
“Furthermore, the application form was 16 pages long. I’ve come across longer forms before, but it was still a challenge. I was also concerned when I found out that the lottery grants people return 75% of the forms because of errors or poor supporting details.
“Anyhow, I gathered as much information as possible. I obtained quotes for repairs to the windows, for replacement of the rotten wood around the hall, and for the installation of electric heating. I also put in the cost of an initial surveyor’s report, and some money for general decorating.
“On top of this, I needed the support of the local community. They had to endorse the project and provide evidence why we needed a decent village hall.
“I got things moving when I asked the local newspaper to spread the word and encourage people to come up with evidence and ideas. Before long, my initial notion of a regular bring-and-buy sale at the hall expanded. Local people came up with activities that could keep the hall busy four or five days a week.
The Outcome“All this work paid off. The lottery grants people did return the form to query some point about the parish council accounts. We sorted this out, however, and within eight weeks of the application, we received a payment to cover everything we wanted to do.
“I then had to organise the surveyor, the window people, the carpenters, the heating firm, and the decorators. By this time, however, the parish council was right behind me. Between us, we had the hall up and running as a pleasant, warm, community centre within a further two months. It’s now the hub of the local community – as it should be.”