A Northern Irish charity believes vital National Lottery funding will help its dreams of a new horticultural centre come to life.
Stepping Stones, which helps people with learning difficulties and autism find employment, is one of several charities across the UK to receive funding as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
To mark the Jubilee year, The National Lottery is providing over £22 million to communities across the UK to commemorate Her Majesty The Queen’s 70-year reign.
Funding has been given across community, arts, sports, and environmental initiatives that have galvanised their local community, whilst leaving a legacy in the name of the Jubilee
Multiple grants are being made to organisations the length and breadth of the country, thanks to National Lottery players who raise over £30m each week for good causes.
Stepping Stones has long held hopes of creating a horticultural centre for the people it supports to enjoy, and the funding, combined with a new building lease, is making that dream become a reality.
Paula Jennings, Stepping Stones CEO said, “This funding is fantastic. We’ve recently got the confirmation that Stepping Stones has the lease of Navigation House, so this funding then adds the opportunity to employ a member of staff to lead on the development of the horticultural project.
“This means the world and it comes at a good time. We’re starting a new project and this funding will allow us to continue the legacy as part of the Platinum Jubilee funding. This provides the start up for a fantastic opportunity for people with learning difficulties and autism in the Lisburn community.
“It’s fantastic that The National Lottery has distributed money for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and we’re very delighted to receive it.”
Jennings had originally hoped that the charity would be able to host a Platinum Jubilee party at Navigation House.
However, there are now plans to celebrate the Jubilee and another milestone anniversary later in the year.
Jennings said: “We’re soon to be celebrating our 25 years. The organisation has diversified over the years and this new project is going to take place in Navigation House, a new facility for Stepping Stones.
“In Lisburn there are so many things going on in terms of street parties and garden parties. We will have our party when we get into Navigation House.
“There’s lots of things going on in the community, a real kind of celebration. It’s a way for all the communities to come together in order to celebrate a lady who has given her life to the country.”
National Lottery Ambassadors Rachel Stevens and Roman Kemp visited organisations to learn first-hand how projects have gone beyond celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee and are creating long lasting change, thanks to The Platinum Jubilee Fund.
With music and theatre close to her heart, Rachel said, “What I love about working in music and the performing arts is its ability to connect people to inspire creativity and push boundaries together.
“One of the highlights of my career was performing for The Queen at the Golden Jubilee and it’s amazing to see others get the opportunity to use theatre and performance to celebrate her Platinum year.”
Roman added, “Thanks to National Lottery players, funding has touched so many communities the length and breadth of the UK – it’s amazing to see how the funding has been used.”
For further information on how The National Lottery is helping bring communities together to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, visit https://www.national-lottery.co.uk/jubilee-celebrations