You may have noticed on our website, on Twitter, and/or in the General Discussions forum, that we've been publishing stories about how our grants and your projects have positively impacted on the individuals and communities who have worked, trained, volunteered on, or visited them. Some of those impacts have been truly life-changing!
Take Rosie Bristow, who, while pulling pints post-university, dreamed of doing something a little more theatrical. Thanks to one of our Young Roots grants, she's now a fully fledged circus performer and researcher into the history of the circus.
Or how about 25-year-old Hannah Steele, who, following an apprenticeship funded by our Skills for the Future programme, secured a permanent post at the London Transport Museum, and now visits secondary schools getting students to create travel plans for their local communities. And of course, 23-year-old Elinor Meloy, who started volunteering at the HLF-supported Newport Wetlands reserve after regularly visiting the site as a child, and then came to work in our Wales office!
As well as us sharing the young people's stories we tell with you here, please use the comments below to share with us how being involved in an HLF-supported project changed your life, or how you've seen your project change the life of someone else.
We look forward to reading your stories.
Sometimes you meet people who know exactly where they're going! We recently visited Sam Turner, a trainee stonemason at York Minster. He comes across as a 20-year-old who has his sights firmly set on becoming a first-class mason; we're delighted to have given him a bit of a helping hand.
We've been lucky to see 2 amazing young people from Yorkshire highlighted through the Changing Lives campaign.
Last week we saw Sam Turner, apprentice stone mason and then this week William Fakes budding archaeologist. William's passion for getting muddy meant that when the local HLF supported park project set up an archaeology group he got involved and hasn't looked back. He's won a national award, is heavily involved in his local Young Archaeology Club and is planning to continue with archaeology so he never has to have a job behind a desk. It is great to see the difference that National Lottery money can make to young people's lives as they are starting to make important decisions about their futures.
Changing lives in the North East: Bishop Auckland brothers take castle by storm
The Robinson brothers had never visited nearby Auckland Castle until an HLF-supported project saw them step through its doors for the first time.
Nine-year-old BillyJoe and his brother John, 15, joined the Heritage Hunters, a group of young people who had just received funding to discover the story of their castle. It was to change their futures - and that of the castle - for the better.
Changing lives in the East of England: young naturalist finds hope in Suffolk wildlife haven
Writer Lizzie Guntrip explains how regular visits to RSPB Minsmere have helped her manage the symptoms of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) in this beautifully written article that will truly inspire.
Our latest Changing Lives story also features our first ever comic strip!
It tells the story of Danielle, who's career as an amateur footballer was cut short by injury and a heart condition, leaving her angry, frustrated, and increasingly in trouble with the police.
Her 'reality check' came when she got involved with an HLF-funded project, and discovered her local football pitch was on the site of a Roman military camp...
Here's a lovely story - 19-year-old John, who has autism, has been fascinated by the Vikings since he was eight years old. He's also a member of Prism Arts Studio Theatre West, a theatre arts company for people with disabilities based at Distington Community School in Cumbria.
As part of an HLF-supported arts project about the Vikings’ impact on West Cumbria, John's beautiful drawings of Vikings and their lives are being used to teach local children about their heritage.
The project is so successful that John is staying on as a volunteer at Prism after his finishes school this summer.
Our Changing Lives story this week comes from Samantha Bannerman who tells us how a traineeship supported by HLF's Skills for the Future programme allowed her to break into the heritage sector.
"Coming from a working-class background I did not know anyone who worked in heritage, and from what I was reading, there was an expectation to volunteer or accept unpaid internships."
Samantha saw the one-year paid museum traineeships advertised online, and applied for the Collections Intern position at the Black Watch Castle and Museum in Perth. Samantha was offered the role and as part of the programme gained skills in collections care and documentation. Three years later Samantha is working as a Curator at the St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum.
“I believe it is so important for there to be a diverse workforce and a variety of routes into the sector. Everyone, regardless of their background, should have the chances that I had.”
This week’s story is about 18-year-old Calum who has volunteered at Great Fen project for over four years. Calum has developed his skills by taking part in wildlife identification workshops, organising minibeast hunts for the public and learning about ecological surveys.
Calum thanks the National Lottery for the opportunity to volunteer on the Great Fen project and the chance to develop his skills in preparation for his degree in biology and ecology starting this September.
Joe Foster has become a shining light in a project to conserve a major river network after overcoming years of depression.
He is tackling pollution, flooding and invasive species as an apprentice with the Eden Rivers Trust in Cumbria.
The 20-year-old has grown in responsibility to the point where he is considered an ambassador for the charity’s drive to enhance and protect the Eden network of rivers, becks and lakes which are under threat from pollution and invasive species.