Big Lottery Fund
‘This year people have opened up to each other…we want that to continue’: The Devon organisations supporting their community, thanks to National Lottery Funding
New figures released today reveal that nearly £1.5 million has gone to community groups across Devon this year, thanks to National Lottery players. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, vital National Lottery funding has enabled inspiring local good causes to carry on their amazing work and bring glimmers of hope to their communities.
The money, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, has helped communities to overcome some of this year’s obstacles to deliver crucial support and bring a sense of togetherness to people while they have had to remain apart.
One project is tackling a problem faced by many men, in quite a unique way, thanks to a £10,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund. Beer Men’s Shed, located in Beer, East Devon, is providing a place for an often forgotten section of the community to connect.
Chris Pickles, Chairman of the Beer Men’s Shed, said: “I moved here when I retired and quickly realised after chatting with my neighbours that there was lots of residents of Beer and the surrounding area who were feeling very isolated. Many of them were living alone or retired and spending lots of the day by themselves, with all the skills they had honed over their life going to waste.”
Chris, along with four others, decided to try and combat this problem by setting up workshops and drop-in sessions in their own garages where men could get together, work on projects and make friends. It was a huge success and soon they were able to open a purpose build workshop. It was up and running in late 2019 and word was beginning to spread to neighboring towns and villages. Then COVID-19 hit.
“In March when we had to stop, it was very painful for many of the men who come along. The sessions really do mean a lot to people” said Chris. “One guy said to me ‘today’s been a great day, I had a walk along the cliffs’; a year ago, he could barely bring himself to get out of his armchair. When it was allowed, we started doing socially distanced sessions in our workshop, but that meant we couldn’t operate at capacity. It didn’t feel right leaving some people out.”
Now, thanks to National Lottery funding the Beer Men’s Shed will open a second workshop to help them with demand for their project.
Another Devon project supporting their community thanks to National Lottery funding is Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub. The project will see the construction of the Sidmouth Fisherman's Shed where the town's annual Sea Festival is taking up permanent residence, creating a dedicated space where local people can meet and connect with their community.
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