MORE than £60,000 has been awarded to voluntary groups in North Dorset who are helping disadvantaged people overcome the effects of the pandemic.
Dorset Community Foundation’s Corton Hill Fund was set up last March by a family to address issues affecting people in the north of the county, including disadvantaged children and teenagers, isolated older people and those at risk of poor health and wellbeing.
Among the recipients of the latest round of grants is Age UK North, South and West Dorset, which has received £8,000 towards its running costs as it continues to feel the effects of a year of lost fundraising. The charity has been supporting older people isolated at home with befriending calls, online chats and virtual social events.
Volunteers have also been teaching users how to get online, said the group’s corporate partnership officer Aimie Haylings. “We know that many of our users have struggled for lots of reasons,” she said. “The most crippling of these has been loneliness and isolation – particularly for those that do not have access to or know how to use technology, in order to keep in touch with friends and family or to take part in online games or classes.”
Youth group The Rendezvous in Sherborne will use a £5,000 grant to run its Discovery project, aimed at young people with anxiety and mental health issues. The one-to-one programme will allow them to share their feelings to bolster their confidence and self-esteem.
Chief executive Helen Da Silva Wood said: “Anxious young people rarely laugh. Their anxiety makes them fearful. This grant will change that. By reducing levels of anxiety and reducing social isolation these young people’s lives can be transformed. They will have the opportunity to live lives filled with friends, fun, laughter and hope.”
Mindful Café at Gillingham Social Club, which provides a safe space for Alzheimer’s sufferers, re-opened for a handful of members and their carers for the first time since the autumn thanks to a £1,500 grant. Chairman of trustees Sally Nutbeem said: “We had just eight people from our database and for the time being we will keep it low key supporting the people known to us.
“We played socially-distanced bingo and used some of the grant to buy prizes. It was lovely to see our members again, they were so pleased to be out and doing something. It will be nice when we can reach out to more people.”
Countrymen UK has been awarded £1,000 towards the running costs of supporting 40 older men and their carers at Rylands Farm at Holnest, near Sherborne. The group has been staying in touch with members, many of whom are retired farm workers, through the lockdowns with phone calls and online sessions but it will be opening up its activities again through the spring.
Anxious young people rarely laugh. Their anxiety makes them fearful. This grant will change that.
Home-Start North Devon supports isolated parents by assigning them a volunteer to help them cope with a variety of issues, including mental health, anxiety and loneliness. A grant of £3,000 will help the group with volunteer costs and running a Mothers In Mind mental health group.
“The coronovirus pandemic has exacerbated many of the mental and physical issues suffered by our families – during lockdowns we have continued to provide help via electronic means and socially distanced support and we are re-starting our group sessions when the current restrictions are lifted,” said funding co-ordinator James Toup.
Other grants went to Citizens Advice Central, MOSAIC, Future Roots, Prout Bridge Project and Weldmar Hospice Care.
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “We are proud to work with the family who set up the fund, who have entrusted us to make sure the grants go to where they will be used most effectively.
“We know the groups who can make a real difference in their communities and our donors value that. The family’s generosity will dramatically improve the lives of people all over north Dorset and we are delighted to play a part in that.”
Find out more about setting up a fund with Dorset Community Foundation here.