Delaying repayment of lottery money causes us problems, says specialist nursery

Sophia Baker, head of fundraising at the Peter Pan Nursery for Children with Special Needs, says the Olympics will not benefit many charities

Peter Pan Nursery for Children with Special Needs
Peter Pan Nursery for Children with Special Needs

A specialist nursery has criticised the amount of lottery funding allocated to the Olympics at a time when many charities are struggling to stay afloat.

The Peter Pan Nursery for Children with Special Needs, a charity that runs sessions for children with disabilities in Staffordshire and Cheshire, has an income of about £250,000 a year, with almost £100,000 coming from the Big Lottery Fund. But the charity’s BLF funding is due to run out next year and it has been told it can’t reapply for money for its existing project.

Sophia Baker, head of fundraising at the nursery, said that the government decision to allow £425m of lottery money to be spent on the Olympics and to not repay the money until at least the mid-2020s has hit local charities hard. "We’re very proud of the Olympics, but a lot has been made of how it would benefit charities in the long run," she said. "Actually, it’s causing us problems. People aren’t being able to access funding through the BLF because £425m has been taken from the lottery."

Baker said that the games would bring few benefits to charities that are outside London or aren’t involved in sport. "We were told that corporate partners were going to set up charity schemes and that the games were going to make this great difference," she said. "But to an organisation like us it isn’t going to make a difference because everything has to have a sporting element and sport is such a small part of what we do."

She said the nursery was struggling for funding and that it could face closure within 18 months unless alternative sources of funding could be found.

Baker said she was aware of the Big Lottery Refund campaign being run by the Directory of Social Change , which is calling on the government to repay the BLF money used to pay for the Olympics sooner rather than later.

Jay Kennedy, head of policy at the DSC, said that about 1,000 organisations had supported the campaign so far. "For lots of organisations across the country, the BLF remains an important source of funding," he said. "There is no other funder that has its reach, which is one of the reasons why it’s such a problem that so much lottery money has been used to pay for the Olympics."

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