Whopping Lottery windfall of £428,666 for Ashfield Play Forum

TOYS FOR US -- sisters Lucy and Amelia Corbett choose their toys from the toy library during Ashfield Play Forum's 30th birthday celebrations last year.
TOYS FOR US -- sisters Lucy and Amelia Corbett choose their toys from the toy library during Ashfield Play Forum's 30th birthday celebrations last year.

One of the most successful and enduring organisations in Ashfield has won the Lottery -- in the shape of a whopping windfall worth £428,666.

“It is absolutely fantastic news,” beamed Lynn Riley, manager of Ashfield Play Forum, which is based on Morven Avenue in Sutton. “We are thrilled, not just for the Forum but also for all the people in the community who use our services.”

Formed in 1984, Ashfield Play Forum is a charity open to all groups and individuals who work with children under 16. It has gone from strength to strength, and its services include a toy library for under-eights, a scrapstore providing free materials donated by local businesses, room hire and the loan of equipment.

“The Big Lottery funding, which is spread over five years, will help us to continue all these things -- and more,” says Lynn.

The cash will fund three key initiatives. The first is free, accredited, play-related training for anyone interested in working with children. The second is free play events across Ashfield for children during the school holidays. And the third is improvements to the Forum’s headquarters, which the group bought, using Lottery funding, in 2000, and now owns.

“This money will help us grow as an organisation,” added Lynn. “It will have a big impact for the benefit of the Ashfield community. The training will help people to work safely with children and set up groups themselves. The events will include lots of different activities, suich as crafts and sports, and will involve other local community groups.”

Thousands of youngsters have been helped by the Forum, which is always interested to hear from would-be volunteers or local businesses keen to support its work.

THE Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities.

It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes, and invests more than £650 million a year in projects, big and small, in health, education, environment and charities. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £33 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.

The Reaching Communities arm of the Big Lottery, from which the Ashfield Play Forum grant has come, was set up to help voluntary or community groups in areas across England most in need. It has a pot of £200 million.

Ashfield Play Forum had to go through a complex application process to be considered for a grant. But the adjudicators were hugely impressed by the organisation.