The National Lottery Community Fund, Northern Ireland

Supporting families through partnership in services in Northern Ireland

Community & Voluntary Sector


Developing partnership in the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland

  • Supported implementation of 36 projects over 7 years
  • We held 63 networking and training activities over the lifetime of the programme
  • Captured learning from an investment of £25 million

The Challenge

In 2015 the National Lottery Community Fund in Northern Ireland embarked on an ambitious seven year investment of £25 million in community and voluntary sector services in Northern Ireland. The Reaching Out, Supporting Families Programme provided funding for 36 projects for ‘ordinary families facing extraordinary challenges’. The Fund was keen to capture learning about good family support  from this significant investment, and engaged CES to support the organisations involved, help them to implement their projects, work better together and to capture learning from their experience.

What We Did

Understand the challenge
Projects funded by the Programme addressed a wide range of adversities experienced by families in Northern Ireland, including poverty, disability, exclusion, trauma and discrimination. Each organisation funded worked in partnership with at least one other voluntary/community sector organisation and/or statutory service. We built in a strong co-design approach from the outset, to work alongside the organisations involved, offer advice and a listening ear on their journey from implementation to evaluation.

“Very approachable staff who didn't 'talk down' in providing knowledge or guidance.”

Bolster project lead

Design the approach
We created a network to provide opportunities for the organisations involved to share, grow and thrive, recognising that partnership is fundamental to improving outcomes for families.

We championed learning. We consulted on new learning needs emerging over the course of the programme through a Programme Steering Group and wider network. We hosted masterclasses and on everything from Adverse Childhood Experiences to storytelling for impact.

We celebrated good practice. We reached out to our international connections with the latest thinking about family support. We showcased good practice emerging from the organisations at two large conferences and other events.  

We captured learning from the Programme to understand what changed for services and families. We reviewed evaluation reports, consulted with the organisations involved, and captured learning from the Programme.

Support progress
We produced a wide range of resources from the project, including reports, infographics, video and animation. We shared these with the organisations involved and the National Lottery Community Fund, Northern Ireland, policy makers, commissioners and funders, to highlight learning from this significant investment.

“Melanie and her colleagues have been supportive, informative and always up to speed on the latest practice.”

Organisation/ project


Over the course of the programme, CES helped the organisations involved to evaluate their services. They were able to demonstrate that families reported increased confidence, enhanced wellbeing and reduced isolation. The organisations involved benefited from CES’s down to earth approach backed up by extensive knowledge and expertise.

“We want to pay tribute to the role that CES has played in developing and fostering relationships between the projects, allowing for best practice and innovation in how we support families in Northern Ireland.”

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund, Northern Ireland

Want to have a chat?

Get in touch

The Team

To speak to our team about this work contact us here

Want to work with a team like this?

Book a consultation
In partnership with

The National Lottery Community Fund, Northern Ireland


Research and Evaluation Implementation


Resource Library

We curate a growing library of useful, usable tools, reports and case studies in our Notion database. Explore
Explore Resources ↗
Community & Voluntary Sector

Related Case Studies