Home North West National Lottery Funding Surprise for Community Champion, Zafar

National Lottery Funding Surprise for Community Champion, Zafar

TV presenter Stephen Mulhern reveals life-changing award during ITV's Saturday night primetime programming

Sahara in Preston, a voluntary group supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and Eastern European women, will receive a £323,851 funding boost from The National Lottery this weekend.

News of the grant, from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will be revealed during the commercial break on ITV on Saturday evening (20 March) by Stephen Mulhern.

The money will be used to enable the group to support even more women across Preston and the surrounding area with a whole range of needs, from those needing to build confidence and self-esteem, poor housing, physical and mental health problems through to those experiencing domestic abuse.

Sahara in Preston, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, supports almost 400 women every single week, through a series of one-to-one sessions and more than 21 different classes.


Jackie Flynn, Trustee of Sahara in Preston, said she feared for the project’s future, “I was genuinely worried if we would reach our 30th anniversary but now, I am confident that this National Lottery funding boost will enable us to continue to operate not only into our 30th year but well into our half century year too! Our manager, Zafar Coupland, has worked tirelessly and is known for being the voice for BAME women in this region.”

The moment the grant is revealed to Zafar will be shown over the next two Saturdays (20 and 27 March) on ITV before the main Lotto draw results, during the ad break of Saturday Night Takeaway. The National Lottery currently sponsors ITV’s two biggest Saturday night shows: The Voice UK and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. The National Lottery draw results are aired every Saturday night on ITV during the advertisement break.

Zafar, who has been supporting women across the region for 17 years, said, “This money will directly translate into making a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of women across Preston and the town’s neighbouring boundaries. We really are the conduit to making a difference to lives and opening up huge opportunities which otherwise would not be accessible to these communities.

“And to receive national TV recognition, and on prime time Saturday night ITV, is just the icing on the cake, it is totally incredible!”

The filming of Sahara, Preston took place without any crew present to ensure production was covid compliant and safe for all involved.
Preston has received more than 1,000 grants from The National Lottery, totalling more than £118M, since The National Lottery began in 1994.

Meanwhile, across Lancashire, which includes: Blackburn, Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Blackpool South, Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster and Fleetwood, Morecambe and Lunesdale, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Darwen, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre and Preston.

North has received more than 9,000 grants from The National Lottery, totalling more than £566M, since The National Lottery began in 1994. These have all been used to support local community projects and organisations.

Gillian Halliwell, Head of Regional Funding for the North West at The National Lottery Community Fund, said, “We’re delighted to have awarded this vital funding to Sahara, thanks to National Lottery players.

“Working alongside many partners, Sahara does fantastic work across the region to empower women from diverse communities to tackle a range of issues they face in their lives.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the great difference Zafar and the team at Sahara will make to local women’s lives with this funding over the next three years.”

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