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How are Scottish communities staying connected during these difficult times?

Sean and Megan, Matchbox Cineclub - winner of the 2020 National Lottery Award for the Arts

The National Lottery

4 min read Partner content

This St Andrews Day, we celebrate the Good Causes that have made a huge difference to Scottish communities, thanks to funding from The National Lottery,

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, it has funded over 64,000 Good Cause projects in Scotland.

This includes large-scale projects such as Scotland’s first design museum, the V&A Dundee, which received over £19 million of funding towards its building and opening in 2018, but also much smaller-scale projects that make a huge difference to Scottish communities - which has been especially important in these difficult times. 

2020 National Lottery Award for the Arts winner, Glasgow-based Matchbox Cineclub, produce subtitles for films that open them up to a wider and more diverse audience.

Their goal is to reduce the stigma around captions and ensure viewers who read them get as much out of them as possible. 

Co-founded and run by Sean and Megan (pictured), the pair have captioned 275 movies during lockdown thanks to National Lottery funding.

They have worked online, training others how to produce effective subtitles. They’re both in agreement about the need for good subtitles, which open movies up to more diverse groups.

Sean said they’re looking to offer “an equality of experience” to audiences, which involves a mix of the script and describing what’s happening on screen. “There are a lot of choices you make, what to include and what not to. You need to describe things that happen to give context for people with hearing difficulties.”

Sean’s motivation comes, at least partly, from his brother Stuart, who has cerebral palsy and a mild developmental impairment. And while providing subtitles helps people with disabilities, Sean says that a huge number of people without hearing difficulties make use of them – including those learning English as a second language. 

Megan is clear about her ambition too. She wants captions on more movies, not just special performances, at weird times, that don’t suit people who work. She said, “cinemas need to be brave. We want all people to be able to enjoy captions.”

Adapting to new circumstances

A world away from on-screen activity is Leith-based National Lottery-funded charity, Crops in Pots, who operated a cafe and market garden prior to lockdown.

However, since March it has been using its workshop to repair and service donated bikes which it passes on to key workers.

Two of these bikes were received by Edinburgh-based Rosa - a support worker at two Edinburgh hotels that opened their doors to homeless people at the start of the pandemic - and Gemma - a support worker for a disabled adult.

Thanks to players of The National Lottery, £30 million is raised for Good Causes every week, funding projects across the UK and helping communities come together.  

When the lockdown started, they still needed to travel to work, but the city’s public transport system was operating a reduced service and the idea of catching a crowded bus seemed ill-advised. However, having the bikes meant that they have not had to rely on taxis as they were before.

Tom, a paid sessional worker at Crops in Pots, who has been servicing and repairing bikes since the start of lockdown, said, “I’m privileged to be a part of this. I’ve been massively impressed by the speed with which Crops in Pots has adapted to helping out in completely new circumstances.”

Radio - a faithful companion

For many in lockdown who have been unable to leave their homes, the radio has been a faithful companion.

National Lottery-funded Jambo Radio is based in Glasgow and made up of volunteer presenters who put together their own shows. They provide multi-lingual information on COVID-19 online, through radio and live broadcasts to people from African and Caribbean communities.

One of their presenters, BB, started volunteering in March because of her passion for her community and roots as well as Scotland.

She finds that helping out with the radio allows her the opportunity to celebrate both Scotland and Africa with her community.

BB said, “I love using my voice to entertain, educate, update and regale the listeners. I get to show my personality, using it to make people smile at a time when so many feel lonely and worried about the future.”

Thanks to players of The National Lottery, £30 million is raised for Good Causes every week, funding projects across the UK and helping communities come together.  

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Partner content
Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

Find out more