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Four Welsh projects in running for major UK award

Four fantastic projects from Wales are amongst 17 finalists from across the UK appealing for public support in order to be crowned Project of the Year in the 2023 National Lottery Awards.

Hear We Are, a project run through Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff to encourage a more accessible arts sector for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people; Pembrokeshire mental health support charity Get The Boys A Lift (GTBAL); Project SIARC (Sharks Inspiring Action and Research with Communities), which aims to safeguard sharks, skates and rays, off the Welsh Coast whilst cultivating a new appreciation for the underwater environment in Wales; and Wales’s first LGBTQ+ football club, Cardiff Dragons FC – have all reached the public voting stage in this year’ National Lottery Awards.

The National Lottery Awards celebrate the inspirational people and projects who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding and attracted more than 3,780 entries this year.

The Welsh quartet are among 17 shortlisted finalists from across the UK, who will compete in a four-week public vote from 11th September to 9th October to be named the UK’s National Lottery Project of the Year. Winners will receive a £5,000 cash prize for their project and an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy.

Flying the flag for Wales in the Arts, Culture and Film category is Hear We Are – a Deaf-led project exploring the perspectives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, particularly those working in or excluded from the creative sector. Since the project began in February 2021, Hear We Are has worked to establish a network of safe spaces for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people across Wales to meet, share experiences and test out creative ideas. Run through Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Hear We Are helps to nurture and develop talent, encouraging a more accessible arts sector for all whilst finding solutions to issues raised by participants.

Representing Wales in the Community and Charity category is Get The Boys A Lift (GTBAL),  a not-for-profit organisation launched by a group of friends in Pembrokeshire who were keen to encourage discussions about mental health. The project has gone from strength to strength since 2016, now offering a mix of in-person and online counselling services to anyone over 17. The team run a clothing and coffee shop in Haverfordwest called ‘Our Place’, offering a unique café experience where visitors can chat to counsellors and make new friends. The project’s drop-in service has provided around 500 people with free and easy support and its online counselling service, launched during the pandemic, also gives clients the option to have sessions remotely.

Hoping to make a big splash in the Heritage category this year is Project SIARC (Sharks Inspiring Action and Research with Communities). The marine environment along the Welsh coast is teeming with life and Project SIARC is doing all it can to make things even better. The programme, which launched in 2022, brings together local communities, fishers, researchers, and government to safeguard sharks, skates, and rays, whilst cultivating a new appreciation and opening-up access to the underwater environment in Wales. The project is delivered in partnership by ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Natural Resources Wales, Bangor University, Blue Abacus, Minorities in Shark Sciences, North Wales Wildlife Trust, Shark Trust, Swansea University, and several collaborative partners.

Looking to score a winner in the Sports category is Wales’s first LGBTQ+ football club, Cardiff Dragons FC. Founded in 2008, the club has emerged as a shining example of an organisation where inclusion and acceptance take centre stage; it has led the way in providing opportunities for LGBTQ+ people to take part in sport, creating a warm and welcoming environment and a community that’s inclusive of all identities. With a goal of providing football for all, Cardiff Dragons FC, which is supported with National Lottery funding from Sport Wales, is home to three teams.

Jonathan Tuchner from The National Lottery, said: “We’re so pleased to have received so many nominations highlighting the excellent work that National Lottery-funded projects are doing up and down the UK. It’s no secret that times are tough, so it’s great to see so many people and projects dedicating so much time and energy into giving something back to their communities.

“It’s thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, that the work of these amazing projects is made possible.

“These projects are making an incredible impact in their local community and they thoroughly deserve to be in the finals of the National Lottery Awards Project of the Year 2023. With your support, one of them could be a winner.” 

To vote for any of these projects please go to lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards . Or simply use their specific hashtag on X (formerly known as Twitter) #NLAHearWeAre , #NLAGTBAL, #NLASIARC  and #NLADragons.  Voting runs from 9am on 11th September until 12pm on 9th October.