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BIG Lottery Fund gives taste of independence for England's young wheelchair users

Hundreds of children with mobility issues are to get support to gain new skills and confidence during residential breaks as part of a nationwide Lottery good cause roll-out today.

Today 64 projects share in £14.8m from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme which aims to help those most in need and build stronger communities.

Whizz-Kidz will use a £348k grant to run life skills camps at various locations around the country and over the next three years so over 200 young wheelchair users can take part in sports, team challenges, cooking and other activities to help them become more independent.

Mark Lovell, Head of Youth Participation at Whizz-Kidz, said: “The young people that we work with us tell us that they often miss out on age-appropriate provision which could build their skills, grow their confidence and give them a taste of independence.  Whizz-Kidz closes this gap by delivering tailored training, but also crucially supporting young disabled people to gain real life experience by directing their own care - often for the first time – and by building friendships with other young people.

“Our life skills camps give young wheelchair users the opportunity to enjoy a unique break from their normal routine, strengthen their life skills, and encourage them to do things for themselves.  It is a vital part of Whizz-Kidz’s life journey approach giving every child the chance of a future full of potential and ambition.”

Young people will take part in three-day residential breaks away from parents and carers which will help bolster their self-esteem while encouraging them to do more for themselves so they are more independent when they return to their homes and schools afterwards. Many have complex care needs linked to neurological conditions so a team of highly qualified and experienced health care and nursing care staff ensure a safe environment throughout the day and night ensuring each young person receives tailor-made care.

Young adult wheelchair users will attend each camp to act as positive role models and inspirational speakers - such as ex-Paralympic athletes - will be invited to attend the camps to present awards.

Every individual will have the option to choose from a range of activities and from the first evening, a Big Brother style diary room will be open so that they can feedback their experiences, express their goals, thoughts, opinions and concerns in a confidential and safe environment.

Other projects to secure BIG Lottery funding today include The Royal National Institute of Blind People, which receives £200k to train blind and partially sighted adults across the country to run tele-befriending groups from their own homes so that individuals can help each other through weekly Talk and Support telephone groups. And Excell 3 Limited is awarded £298k to improve the educational attainment of a thousand children from inner city areas across Birmingham, Coventry, Luton, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, London and Bristol by improving literacy standards, preventing school exclusion, raising aspirations and encouraging parents to become more involved in their children's education.

Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: “Whizz-Kidz is an inspiring example of a charity that has fundamentally transformed the experiences of kids who need to use wheelchairs enabling them to have childhood experiences which many take for granted. This is just one among the many charities receiving £14.8 in Lottery good cause cash. At a time when we all wind down and enjoy the festive period ahead, these charities are working hard empowering people to drive change in their own lives, and in the lives of others, so that those in need can reach their full potential and lead fulfilled lives.”

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Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

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Notes to Editors

The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in June 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6 bn.
The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £29 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
Ends/ issued 14/12/12

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