Lottery share-out targets poorest

Diane Spencer

Diane Spencer on how this week's Pounds 40m allocation will benefit young people in low-income groups.

More than Pounds 40 million from the National Lottery was awarded this week to 627 charities concerned with helping disadvantaged groups on low incomes, a quarter of which benefit children and young people.

Scotland got the lion's share with Pounds 17.6m compared to England's Pounds 12.5m. Strathclyde Poverty Alliance won the biggest grant - Pounds 666, 000 to provide information and training for people in the most deprived areas of Scotland.

The smallest grant of Pounds 500 went to the Phoenix Toy Library in Swindon to help it buy multi-cultural toys and equipment. Oxfordshire Playbus Association received Pounds 73,950 to employ staff to extend their mobile play service for poor communities. The London Narrow Boat project in Lewisham got Pounds 10,000 to renovate a 10-year-old boat which underprivileged youngsters will use to explore the capital's waterways and history. Youthaid, the national youth employment charity, was awarded just under Pounds 900,000 for its welfare advice work. Adventure playgrounds, family and youth centres and a theatre company for Manchester's young homeless were among other beneficiaries.

The National Lottery Charities Board was the last of the five distributing bodies to make awards to good causes - a year since the lottery began. The arts, sports, heritage and the millennium boards have been allocating cash since March. The charities board was criticised for getting off the ground so late compared to the others. And it has come under attack for failing to give larger sums to the bigger charities said to have lost income because of the lottery.

But, unlike the other boards, it is dedicating funds to certain themes: this winter funds will go to youth issues and charities targeted at low-income groups; next spring to health, disability, care, small grants, and UK charities abroad; summer 1996 to new opportunities and choices; winter to projects improving people's living environment; and spring 1997 to community involvement.

Inevitably many organisations were disappointed at failing in their bids. The Child Poverty Action Group, for example, wanted a quarter of a million to help fund an Opportunities for Children campaign to raise awareness of the nature, extent and impact of child poverty in schools and the wider community.

This would involve updating an educational pack produced a few years ago which is still in demand, said CPAG's director Sally Witcher.

"We won't despair quite yet as the board still has about another Pounds 120m to distribute in November and December. But it helps to know whether you have or haven't got the money. It's nail-biting time between now and then."

The charities board received more than 15,000 applications totalling Pounds 2.4bn for its first programme. It can give grants for either capital or revenue funding and matching funds are not essential, in contrast to the Sports Council which requires 35 per cent from applicants and the Arts Council which needs 10 per cent.

Applications are invited between November 27, 1995 and January 19, 1996 for the next grants programme focusing on youth issues and low income. Application packs are available only by calling the board's special line on 0345 919191.

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