MORE than £2.5m of National Lottery funding was invested in Swindon last year, figures show.

A total of 28 grants were awarded to charities, youth groups and sports clubs dedicated to assisting the most vulnerable in August 2013.

Swindon Mentoring and Self Help Youth Project – SMASH – was awarded the most significant grant with £299,136, to mentor vulnerable or disaffected young people and allow children in crisis achieve their full potential.

Swindon Citizens Advice Bureau, received £149,643 toward a partnership with welfare groups across the area.

The Wheelchair Rugby League For All at St George Wheelchair Tag Rugby League Club received £9,855.

Rob Chappell, the managing director of SMASH said the cash boost has been a lifeline for the project.

“We would not be here now if it was not for the lottery grant,” he said. “They were our salvation in many ways. “It has enabled us to grow and deliver a service that is desperately needed. And it has allowed us to start planning for the future.”

The lottery’s financial backing also allowed the CAB to forge links with other debt and benefits advice charities across Swindon such as the Advice Points in Stratton and Park and Wiltshire Law Centre. Chief executive Claire Newport said: “The project was started to improve access to advice and volunteer training. It’s a really exciting project for us and it’s helping us to make the advice sector work. “We want to share our specialism and make sure we don’t duplicate work in Swindon.

“Funding is always squeezed and if we join together and share training, skills and expertise, it is all the better for the residents of Swindon. “For some of the smaller organisations, the extra money from the Lottery Fund is a lifeline.”

Now all 28 projects, and any organisation which has received Lottery funding, has a chance to gain recognition for its work as the National Lottery Awards 2014 open for entries.

The National Lottery Awards have seven categories, each reflecting an area of funding: Sport, heritage, arts, environment, health, education and voluntary/charity.

The winners will receive a £2,000 cash prize and national recognition at a star-studded event broadcast on BBC One later this year.

To see a project from Swindon celebrated visit or call 0207 293 3599.