Olympics Threaten Community Funding

Community groups in Hackney have warned the government not to plunder National Lottery funds to pay for the London Olympics in 2012.

The government is considering dipping into the fund to make up for a shortfall in the soaring costs of the Games. However, the people who rely on the funding have said the move could spell disaster for hundreds of community projects.
Jim Armstrong, the Laburnum Boat Club co-ordinator, said his organisation relied on Lottery funding.

The club, based in Laburnum Street, Haggerston, was boosted by a £90,000 Lottery grant in 2005 which gave young people with disabilities the chance to go sailing and canoeing.

“The Lottery is an important source of funding for community groups in Hackney,” said Mr Armstrong.

“We support the Olympics, but not at the expense of community groups and would be saddened if there was any threat to our funding in the future.”

Liz Hughes, of the Haggerston Pool Trust, said: “We think before the Olympic organisers take any more they should make their case about how the Olympics is really going to benefit community groups.

“We want the government to be much more specific about what the legacy will be and how it will make up for all the projects which lose out.”

The National Lottery is already set to contribute £1.5 billion towards the 2012 cost, which will be raised through Lottery games.

However, with the final bill likely to top £3.3 billion, the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has not ruled out further contributions.

Projects in Hackney have benefited from a staggering £141 million since the National Lottery began 12 years ago.

Last year, the Stoke Newington Woodcraft Folk were given a £6,700 grant to send 25 children to the Global Village International Camp in Kent.

Hackney Cultural Carnival Arts received £5,000 to help organise the Fusion East Carnival finale in Bethnal Green.

The Hoxton-based arts charity, Standpoint Studios, was given £5,000 to carry out educational workshops in primary schools.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said the benefits of the Olympics would outstrip the losses to other projects.

She said: “It’s been made clear that money from the Lottery will be used to go to the Olympics.

“The Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will transform society and improve millions of lives.

“It will bring immense benefits to the country in exactly the areas that the Lottery was set up for in the first place.”