January 2009 – O2 It’s Your Community has now given away over £1million to more than 1,200 community groups all across the UK to help improve where they live with 98 successful projects coming from Northern Ireland.

O2 It’s Your Community was launched in July 2007 after research showed that nearly half of Brits wanted to make a difference in their local area. It’s Your Community provides a quick and simple process that gives near instant cash awards of between £100 and £1000. To date, over 5,500 have applied for an It’s Your Community award with 98 successful projects in Northern Ireland.

£1,000 may not seem like a lot, but It’s Your Community is living proof that a little can go a long way.

All over the country groups and projects have benefited from the programme with a great example being Re-think, in Kilkeel, who are a group of volunteers that works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover for a better quality of life. The group organises walks that encourages physical and mental well-being. They were given a £600 It’s Your Community award to buy some extra walking boots which means the group was able to touch more people which has improved the quality of life in the area.

An It’s Your Community award has proven to bring communities together and tear down social divides that separate neighbours from getting to know each other. A perfect example of this is a group called The Environment Club at St. Joseph’s School in Derry. The club was awarded an It’s Your Community of £1000 to buy tools so the group could put together flower baskets for local elderly residents for free. Since then the project has been very well received and sparked a greater interest and understanding between the two age groups. Maryjo Gill of St. Josephs Boys School has been delighted with the success of the project, “The pupils are more interested in the people in their community particularly the elderly people, and they have developed an interest in the bigger picture in terms of the environment.”

Bill Eyres, Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility for O2,said “It’s Your Community is a unique programme in the way that it cuts out the red tape eliminating many hurdles and loops a project would have to go through to achieve funding. The money is instant and easy to access to anyone wanting to make a positive change to where they live. The programme was set up to give people the chance to make a difference and I believe we’re hitting that target.”

O2 It’s Your Community awards have helped people to become heroes and make a difference to their communities all over the UK. And after this success, O2 are committed to continuing its support for projects into the future

Each month up to 60 projects throughout the UK receive up to £1000 of It’s Your Community funding. Awards must be for the benefit of the community or to build community spirit. For more information about the hundreds of projects which have already received an award and how to apply for one, visit www.itsyourcommunity.co.uk.

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