Celebrating our Changing Lives campaign

Camelot CEO Andy Duncan explains how National Lottery Good Causes money benefits people
Since February 2016, we have shared the stories of people whose lives have been changed for the better thanks to projects funded with money from the National Lottery. Our Chair Sir Peter Luff takes a look back…

Volunteers and trainees are the glue that bind together so many projects supported by HLF. But there's more to volunteering than that. Our Changing Lives series of stories has brought to life, often very movingly, the myriad ways in which getting involved has enriched the lives of the volunteers.

“Our rich mix of stories, told one each week over the past year, has shown just how vital getting involved in projects can be.”

Male and female, young and not-so-young, able-bodied and disabled, ethnic minorities, residents from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; the rich mix of personal stories, told one each week over the past year, has shown just how vital getting involved in projects can be for the volunteer, as well as doing much to protect, conserve and share the national heritage.

We have seen people from all manner of backgrounds becoming blacksmiths, boatbuilders, artists, archivists, gardeners, tour guides, curators, stonemasons and wildlife wardens. People have discovered skills or abilities they had never dreamed of, they have started businesses, gained qualifications, overcome personal challenges and tackled health-related issues. 

From Afghanistan to archaeology

  • The young brothers – Billy Joe (9) and John (15) – who joined the Heritage Hunters group of youngsters to discover not only the history of Auckland Castle but also talents and self-confidence which had been completely hidden. Shy Billy Joe would go on to record songs about the castle and perform them live while John designed a logo for his fellow young volunteers to wear. Read Billy Joe and John's story
  • Richard was diagnosed with PTSD having been medically discharged from the army where he had served in Afghanistan. Drifting in and out of jobs and suffering from depression, Richard discovered a project working with wounded soldiers to excavate a Bronze Age burial site on Salisbury Plain. His involvement proved a great personal boost. He described it as “a lifeline!”. Read Richard's story
  • Tracy, a GP from Hampshire, moved house and medical practice to mid Wales to become a regular volunteer at a bird reserve as part of an HLF-supported osprey observatory project. Read Tracy's story
  • Two retired Yorkshire nurses, Anne and Eileen, volunteered to research the history of First World War Red Cross Hospitals in the North Riding and, with no previous experience of public speaking, went on to become star ambassadors for the project and co-authors of a bestselling book. Read Anne and Eileen's story
  • Nottingham taxi driver Clive was an avid campaigner against racism and injustice. He took part in a project to highlight the role that slavery had played in creating buildings that were now major heritage visitor attractions. In many ways it proved a painful personal journey but he emerged from it feeling stronger and determined to explain what he had learned to others. Read Clive's story

A sense of wellbeing

Uncovering personal and community identities and reinforcing a sense of wellbeing and self-worth have come through in so many of our Changing Lives stories.

Ten of the people we have featured have completed apprenticeships; many have secured jobs; three have launched their own businesses on the strength of the skills and qualifications they achieved.

We looked at the tales of five volunteers with learning disabilities; a homeless person, and three who overcame physical health problems. 

“These stories are a direct link between the person who buys their National Lottery ticket, and the person who gains so much from taking part in a project made possible by the sale of that ticket.”

And the projects they have taken part in have benefited too. In one example, heritage sites where disabled volunteers took part have completely re-assessed how they can make it easier to welcome disabled visitors in future.

These stories all have one thing in common. They link the person buys their National Lottery ticket with the person who gains so much from taking part in a project made possible by the sale of that ticket. 

In the words of one of our volunteers:

“I wonder if people buying their weekly National Lottery ticket ever stop to wonder about all the good that this can do for so many people … they are transforming lives.”

I couldn’t say it better myself!

Read more

Read all of our Changing Lives stories on our Tumblr blog and share them with the hashtag #ChangingLives.

Where did our stories come from? Who took part? Find out in our special infographic.

Who we told stories about during the campaign
The heritage we told stories about
The words used most often in our stories
How lives were changed by National Lottery-funded projects
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