Changing Lives has received £50,000 in funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to conduct a listening project into the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on people accessing its services and how they can be involved in conversations around a national recovery from the pandemic.

The funding, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will enable Changing Lives to work with Centre for Public Impact (CPI) to listen and share personal experiences of the covid-19 pandemic from people accessing Changing Lives services across the country. The project aims to narrate and tell their stories, to better understand people’s experiences of the pandemic who are often sidelined and ignored within society.

Thousands of people access Changing Lives service each year across the North East, North West, Midlands and Yorkshire, many who before Covid-19 were already facing some of the most challenging times of their lives. This includes people that are experiencing homelessness, domestic abuse, addiction, sexual exploitation and abuse.

The unprecedented impact of the pandemic has transformed communities but it often people in these groups that are least likely to share their experiences and have their stories heard. The project aims to amplify the voices of people already experiencing disadvantage and learn what the pandemic has meant for them. This is an invaluable opportunity to learn not only what needs to be focused on, but also how systems and processes can be improved to serve all of those in our society to make sure nobody is left behind.

The project plans to listen to 150 people across all Changing Lives services between now and December with the aim of a final report being ready in early 2021. Interviews will be conducted face to face, virtually, or over the internet and will aim to find valuable insight into how services and systems can be improved and aid a national recovery from the pandemic.

The funding will cover a dedicate member of staff, equipment and expenses to allow the research to be carried out. The data from the project will be analysed by Centre for Public Information will form a report which will then be shared with other services, practitioners, as well as policy holders.

Laura Seebohm, Executive Director of External Affairs at Changing Lives, says:

“We are so grateful to the National Lottery for supporting us to make this project possible.

When we first went into lockdown, we had to face up to the stark realisation of what Covid-19 might mean for the people Changing Lives works with.

We made assumptions about how people would experience social distancing and self-isolation, suggesting that this would be extreme for people who do not have a home or a loving family. But, in just three months we have learnt that listening is not a one-size-fits-all: it takes commitment, it requires relationships and trust and extremely rewarding. It has allowed people to feel valued and feel their voice matters. By listening, we can build the mutual respect through which relationships can be formed, every voice can count, and every person can play their part in rebuilding Britain.”

Changing Lives is one of 51 organisations across the UK to receive a grant of up to £50,000 through the Emerging Futures Fund. The funding, from the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will help harness the creativity of civil society and amplify the voices of communities through stories, narratives and public imagination projects.

Cassie Robinson, Senior Head of UK Funding at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges to communities across the UK and The National Lottery Community Fund has focused on getting much-needed emergency support out to communities and the sector. But it has also demonstrated the very best of civil society, which has met this huge challenge with creativity, commitment and a desire for change. We are now seeing new ways of doing things that we might not have thought of before.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, these new grants will support communities to consider how they can face the immediate impact of COVID-19 but also look to the future. The activity conducted by these community groups and organisations will generate learning and insights, and create space and capacity in communities so that they are able to anticipate, imagine and shape the future.”

The Emerging Futures Fund is a key part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s commitment to enabling civil society to be fit for the future – supporting organisations and the voluntary sector to create opportunities to help local communities thrive.

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis. The National Lottery is playing a critical role in supporting people, projects and communities during these challenging times. By playing The National Lottery, you are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of Covid-19 on local communities across the UK.

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