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Lottery has raised £2.6 billion for good causes

By Mark Andrews | Dudley | Features | Published:

The National Lottery has poured in more than £2.6 billion into more than 38,000 good causes across the West Midlands since its launch 25 years ago.

From hospital radio to punk exhibitions, from major tourist attractions to grass-roots sport, good causes in the region have benefited to the tune of £310,000 every day since the lottery was launched in 1994.

Heritage attractions which have received support from the lottery include the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and the Black Country Living Museum.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the lottery, illustrator Ruby Taylor created a map highlighting some of the key projects and places in the region that have thrived thanks to National Lottery funding.

Anne Jenkins, regional director of the Lottery Heritage Fund, says: “We are so proud that over the last 25 years our funding has had such a huge impact on heritage in the UK.

"It’s always incredibly heartening to hear about so many people discovering their local heritage and strengthening their connection to it through the many projects we have funded – particularly the National Lottery players amongst them who learn that without them none of this would be possible.”

One of the most significant heritage projects taking place at the moment is the new postwar town being created at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley. The lottery has contributed £9.4 million towards the £23 million expansion of the site, which will add to the Victorian and 1930s village which are already at the site. It will see a number of historic landmark buildings moved brick-by-brick to the site, while others will be recreated.

Museum director Ian Lovett says the expansion, which is due to be completed in 2022, will create 143 new jobs and "change perceptions of Dudley and the region as a whole." Previous lottery grants had also enabled the reconstruction of the Cradley Heath Workers' Institute at the Tipton Road site, and in 1998 the museum was granted nearly £3 million to move the former Rolfe Street baths building from Smethwick, which now forms the familiar entrance to the museum.

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has also received several million pounds' worth in grants from the lottery. One of the earliest grants saw the restoration of the clay pipe factory at Broseley, and another enabled the repair of the 19th century china-making workshops at Coalport. A further £4 million was used to rescue the old Coalbookdale Company ironworks and create the Enginuity exhibition centre, and another £4 million was spent on restoring Jackfield Tile Museum and factory. More recently, the trust was awarded £1 million to preserve and protect areas within Coalbrookdale, including the Old Furnace used by Abraham Darby I to smelt iron with coke, which was seen as a pivotal moment in the Industrial Revolution.

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But while it is the big, multi-million schemes which attract the most attention, the vast majority of the money goes on thousands of smaller schemes, each of which make a huge difference in their communities.

Shropshire has received more than £222 million in National Lottery funding over the years, including £6,050 to Shropshire Wildlife Trust to encourage people to take an interest in wildlife, £10,000 to Shropshire Community Leisure Trust for Easter and summer holiday activities for young people, and £9,500 to Shrewsbury-based Shropshire Youth Association for its art room.

Sandwell has been one of the biggest recipients of lottery cash, receiving £136 million of funding over the past quarter of a century, supporting more than 2,000 projects.

Sandwell Council has received large grants for the restoration of West Smethwick Park, for the Tipton Sports Academy and for Sandwell Community Lifetime Canal Project.

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Sandwell Christian Centre received £9,445 to refurbish a community hall, the Walk Works scheme received £5,145 for a project on healthy eating and cooking, and the Emconet group was awarded £9,960 for counselling and support for East Europeans affected by hate crimes.

More than £113 million has been spent on projects in Wolverhampton, including £350,000 to support the Zebra Access project for the deaf and hard of hearing. Over the past two years, it has supported more than 350 people by providing activities such as coffee mornings and educational trips to Wolverhampton Crown Court and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. It also supports deaf people in filling out forms and has trained families and carers in British Sign Language.

Chris Beech, project development manager at Zebra Access says the money is helping deaf people to take more control of their lives, and have similar opportunities and experiences to people with hearing.

"We’ve set up a monthly youth club in partnership with The Way, a centre for disabled young people, where they can enjoy various activities such as sports, music and life skills workshops," he says.

"We’ve also employed a community development officer, who develops links with local groups such as the police, local council and health services to help improve their engagement with the deaf community.”

Dudley has received more than 1,800 grants worth in excess of £92 million, with £300,000 going to Top Church Training last year for its work supporting 170 people through activities including arts and crafts, a drama group, a breakfast club and a wellbeing course, all held at Priory Community Centre

Jenny Masterman, 34, has been attending Top Church Training's activities for the past 12 months, and says the experience has changed her life, improving her self-esteem following nine years of domestic abuse.

"It has helped me secure a part-time job at a local high school as a lunchtime supervisor," she says. "I couldn’t have imagined doing this before receiving Top Church Training’s support. I now feel that I have a supportive community around me and I’ve even brought my mum and children to the crafts group, which has helped bring my family closer together.”

Karen Fielder, head of operations at Top Church Training, says: “This National Lottery funding has given us the opportunity to make our dreams come true. Our activities have been so popular and we’re seeing people of all ages getting involved."

She says the charity's allotment has also seen people coming together, forging friendships and sharing their skills with one another.

"We also offer volunteering opportunities in our community café, which is helping to build people’s confidence and aspirations.”

Other grants in the Dudley area include £10,000 to Dudley Hospital Radio for new equipment, £8,183 to St Paul's Community and Learning Centre for an information service and to give older people and vulnerable adults access to computers.

In Walsall, more than £96 million has been distributed through 1,900 grants, including £5,900 to Walsall Creative Factory for its project marking 40 years of the punk movement, looking at the fashion, politics and attitudes behind the subculture. Walsall Friendship Group received £3,900 for activities and trips for people recovering from mental ill health, while £9,960 went to the Walsall Pride festival.

Wyre Forest has received in excess of £45 million, which has been shared among approximately 700 projects. Among them are Home-Start Wyre Forest, which used its grant to support a befriending services for vulnerable families in deprived pockets of the area, and Wyre Forest Nightstop and Mediation which provides emergency accommodation and crisis support for young people.

The Forgotten Favourites project received £6,640 to run arts and crafts classes for the elderly, £8,150 went towards a tennis project in Cookley, and £10,000 to KD7 Scouts to replace the roof on the group's hut.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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