Guest blog from the Big Lottery Fund: The Spirit of 2012

This is a guest blog from Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund

“The volunteers at the Games did a fantastic job. We need to capitalize on that success but there is a danger of the volunteering legacy fizzling out.” These are words taken from the recent Public Accounts Committee report ‘London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: post-games review.’

Without a national showcase, wall to wall media coverage, dazzling graphics, thumping tunes it would be easy to conclude that the legacy from the Games had indeed fizzled out.

But so much of what the Olympic and Paralympics celebrated continues every day, unheralded, unseen and unspoken – thousands of people are volunteering in their community with local projects, thousands of people have been inspired to get more active.

We have a strong civic sense in this country, the Olympic and Paralympic Games helped shine a light on that. So rather than be concerned about what might not happen let’s take an athlete’s psychology, ‘think positive,’ and see what is happening and what is possible.

Research issued on Tuesday by the Legacy Trust UK  suggests that the Olympic and Paralympic Games did inspire a generation and it also inspired them into action: 84% of people thought that London 2012 made a positive difference to the UK; 73% of those involved in London 2012 activities have gone on to participate in another project as a result of their involvement; and 61% agreed that London 2012 had transformed the lives of young people.

These are impressive stats and I am proud that we have the opportunity to build on this insight with investment.

So, yesterday, on May Day, a day traditionally associated with community activity and celebration we announced £5.3m into four UK wide projects to rekindle the flame and keep the spirit of 2012 alive.  The projects are: Sustran’s The Big British Bike Ride; The Join In Trust; the British Olympic Foundation’s Get set to make a Change; and the Society Network Foundation’s Britain’s Personal Best.

These projects will engage, inspire and mobilise up to two million people across the UK. But this is just the start.  These projects set a marker for what we want to achieve with our £40m Spirit of 2012 Trust which will launch later this year and will be funded by our share of the money returned to The National Lottery good causes from the sale of the Olympic Village.

The Spirit of 2012 Trust has four ambitions: help volunteers involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games to maintain their commitment and energy for the benefit of their local communities; help inspire communities to think about how they can build on the Olympic and Paralympic values; build on the huge shift in perceptions brought about by the Paralympics to promote greater understanding of the issues facing people with disabilities; and provide a source of long term focus and support to carry this UK-wide spirit of engagement through into Glasgow 2014 and the great events that will mark the coming decade.

The National Lottery is playing a central part in ensuring we have a great legacy from the Games – a sporting legacy, a cultural legacy and a community legacy.  There is a huge opportunity for a UK wide body like the Big Lottery Fund to support projects and initiatives to try and harness the enthusiasm and passion across communities generated by the Games.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games gave an insight into what Britain was, is and could be.  These investments, which I am proud to announce on behalf of the Big Lottery Fund, will build on this insight and will help, in the words of the Public accounts Committee “the momentum of the games to be maintained”.

Peter Ainsworth, Chair, Big Lottery Fund

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