Great Lottery-funded projects under £5,000

Once Upon a Time is a prison-based project in Leeds. It allows sentenced men, many of whom are illiterate, the chance to choose bedtime stories for their children. They read the story into a tape recorder, and the tape is then sent to the child, accompanied by the book. This makes a huge difference to children and mothers. And the fathers, apart from acquiring new skills, learn to make a connection with their children, which many of them have never experienced before.

Carmarthenshire Domestic Abuse provides community support for people, in particular women and children, who have suffered domestic abuse. The Lottery award will go towards lifeline alarms, which will greatly improve the lives of people at risk.

Scotholme School Allotment Club is putting Lottery funding into a "Sow & Grow" project using "Heritage Seeds" of organic vegetables. Once grown, the vegetables are picked and cooked in the school kitchen as part of a healthy lunch. The children have also created wildlife and flower gardens.

Sensory Sailors is a project set up by a group of friends, one of whom is blind, to refurbish a buccaneer yacht called the Arctic Tern. It took more than two years to complete, after which they began to give sailing lessons to people with sensory impairments. A large number of disadvantaged children helped with the refurbishment of the yacht. Sailing in her has given them a confidence they would not otherwise have had.

Children's War Diaries collects children's war diaries from conflicts in the 20th and 21st centuries. Zlata Filipovic, one of the project's founders, kept a diary as a child during the civil war in Sarajevo in 1992. It was later published in 36 languages. The group hopes to publish its own collection of war diaries at the end of this year.

Herstory, History, Our Story dealt with issues surrounding homophobia within the young black community by means of a radio documentary. It looked particularly at issues of language and misplaced beliefs. People were afraid to contribute to the programme, so the project's founder devised a method of distorting the sound to make the voices unrecognisable. She hopes it helped participants to understand themselves better and to accept homosexuality in their communities.

This article first appeared in the 08 November 2004 issue of the New Statesman, Bleak morning in America