Over £3.5 million has gone to communities across Cumbria this year, thanks to the National Lottery.
The money, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, has reached 104 community groups in Cumbria, funding services and programmes ranging from anti-bullying workshops to food banks for local communities facing poverty.
Carlisle Mencap has been awarded over £73,000 of National Lottery funding to help individuals with learning disabilities and autism recover from the mental and physical effects of spring’s COVID-19 lockdown.
Over six months, three times a week, the charity has been combining art and nature to provide therapy to 25 members.
Through regular trips to local wildlife centres and outdoor green spaces these individuals have been inspired to create works of art in the charity’s studio.
They have also been getting involved in gardens – birdwatching and helping staff with planting.
Both art and nature are known for their therapeutic benefits.
Project leaders hope that engaging the group in these activities will help to restore some of the emotional resilience and skills members may have lost during the pandemic.
Sheila Gregory, CEO at Carlisle Mencap, said: “The funding from The National Lottery Community Fund has been invaluable to Carlisle Mencap.
“It has helped us to support a group of very vulnerable people who have often felt ignored during the crisis.
“We have been able to support people to regain physical fitness and mental health. It’s a great pleasure to see those who have been sad and distressed smiling and confident again.”
Duncan Nicholson, head of funding for North East and Cumbria at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “I am incredibly proud that we have distributed almost £27 million across the North East and Cumbria in what has been an extremely difficult year, helping to boost community spirit when it has been needed most.
“Our communities are more important than ever, and we’re delighted that so many groups, volunteers and community workers have stepped up to provide vital support.
“The good work of projects like Mencap Carlisle is essential to ensure those most vulnerable in society are getting the help they need.
“We should all feel inspired and reassured by the strength we have seen in communities throughout this turbulent year.”