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Giant leap for First Steps project as it lands major award!

29th Tachwedd 2021

The Stroke Association in Northern Ireland’s First Steps project has been named the 2021 National Lottery Northern Ireland Project of the Year.

The initiative is an emotional support and counselling service for stroke survivors and carers to help them overcome mental health challenges.

During the pandemic, beneficiaries were given free one-to-one sessions with qualified counsellors trained in recognising, understanding and working with the emotional effects of a stroke.

The National Lottery Awards celebrate the inspirational people and organisations across the UK who have done extraordinary things with National Lottery funding.

More than 1,500 nominations were received in this year’s campaign and the First Steps project emerged the Northern Ireland winner following a public vote earlier this year.

Ursula Ferguson, Services and Engagement Lead at the Stroke Association in Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted to have won this award and to receive this recognition.

“National Lottery funding has enabled us to provide vital support to stroke survivors and carers who often struggle with the impact of stroke.

“We would like to thank everyone who voted for us and National Lottery players for making our work possible.”

Jonathan Tuchner, from The National Lottery, added: “The work of the Stroke Association NI is changing the outlook for people and families affected by stroke for the better.

“National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million for good causes every week throughout the UK, should be very proud to helped support this wonderful project. They fully deserve this recognition.”

A National Lottery grant of £48,903 from The National Lottery Community Fund in May 2020 funded the First Steps project for six months and allowed the service to provide free, professional, one-to-one counselling by telephone or online.

In September, they received a further £498,771 of National Lottery funding for a three-year programme, in partnership with NI Chest, Heart and Stroke to help stroke survivors and their carers develop emotional resilience and re-adjust to live after a stroke.

Nodiadau i olygyddion

For further information please contact: Ruairi O’Kane at the National Lottery Promotions Unit on 07788612804 or email ruairi.o’

National Lottery players raise more than £30 million every week for good causes.  

Since The National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £45billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community  

Since 1994, The National Lottery has awarded over 660,000 individual grants across the UK. 

The majority (70 per cent) of National Lottery grants are for £10,000 or less, helping small projects make a big difference in their community!   

For more information about projects funded by The National Lottery or The National Lottery Awards visit and follow the campaign on Twitter: @LottoGoodCauses #NLAwards   

Pic caption: The Stroke Association in Northern Ireland’s Associate Director, Barry Macaulay and Service and Engagement Lead, Ursula Ferguson with their National Lottery Awards trophy after their First Steps project won a public vote to be named 2021 National Lottery Northern Ireland Project of the Year. Credit: Bill Smyth/The National Lottery