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Charity’s 20th anniversary exhibition takes pride of place in the Cumberland Infirmary

Cumbria Community Foundation’s 20th anniversary exhibition ‘Giving Back, Looking Forward’ continues its tour around the county and is now appearing at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

Anyone visiting the hospital over the next couple of months can view the 20 images, which are on display in and around the coffee shop in the atrium of the Infirmary. The exhibition focuses on inspirational and moving personal accounts of how giving through Cumbria Community Foundation has changed Cumbrian lives for the better.

A spokesman for North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to work with Cumbria Community Foundation on this photographic exhibition and extend our congratulations on the organisation’s 20th anniversary.”

Cumbria Community Foundation exists to address disadvantage across the county. In its first 20 years, more than £44 million has been given out supporting some of the county’s most disadvantaged people. This is made possible by the support of families, businesses and charitable trusts that choose to give through the Foundation.

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of the Foundation, said: “I am immensely proud of what has been achieved over the last 20 years. It’s quite humbling to see this selection of photographs together in this exhibition and to read the stories about truly inspiring Cumbrians. We are fortunate as a charity that we have generous donors who set up funds and enthusiastic supporters who have dreams of a better Cumbria and go about making it happen.

“The exhibition has been to all corners of the county to showcase the work of the community groups supported by our grants and I am very grateful to the Cumberland Infirmary for giving us the opportunity to show it to a wider audience.”

While the exhibition photographs are not currently for sale, they can all be found in an accompanying book to mark the Foundation’s 20th year, titled Giving Back, Looking Forward’. For a copy of the book or to find out more about the work of Cumbria Community Foundation, visit or call 01900 825760.

Supporting Cumbrian Farmers when they need it most

Helping to maintain and develop a sustainable farming community in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, was the aim of The Farmer Network, when it was formed in 2006.

Since then, it has been raising the profile of farming, as well as encouraging collaboration between farmers and helping them to apply for funding for training and development courses.

Based in Penrith, it now has more than 1,100 members. The Foundation has supported it from its very beginning when during times of hardship in the years following the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001, it provided help and support to farmers where it was most needed.

The Foundation has provided ongoing funding support worth more than £175,000 to farmer initiatives including its training voucher scheme, farming landscape and fell gather events and most recently, the Business Support for Young People Programme.

The first grant helped to establish the Farmer Network. The funding helped towards promotional costs including a new website, training workshops for farmers, school visits and farm walks for the general public, team member training and organising and managing a training programme for nine young people to become employed farm assistants.

One of its aims is to encourage young people aged 16-25 to get into agriculture and set themselves up as self-employed farm assistants. Farming and forestry together contribute around 3% of total employment in the county and the average age in the farming community is often quoted as nearing 60.

Then came the Cumbria Farm Assistant Scheme, which involved training in a wide range of technical skills, including tractor driving, basic animal care, health and safety, basic farm maintenance and business skills, such as self-employment, finance and marketing. The youngsters were also able to apply for training vouchers through the Network to help pay for  training.

Elizabeth Moore, Training Co-ordinator, said: “Every course taken provides a vital skill to help these young people become more safety-conscious, efficient food producers of the future. Training to take the trailer-handling test is essential for the young person to be able to take livestock from the farmstead to outlying fields or to auction themselves, freeing up other family members to do other work.

“Those who have taken the sheep shearing course can hire out their skills to other farmers who can trust their ability to handle the sheep safely. One young farmer told me, very proudly, that for the first time he been able to shear all his father’s flock after attending the shearing course.”

Further grants provided vouchers worth £200 each year to people aged between 15 and 40 to spend on training courses needed to work safely on farms, while also improving employability among young farmers. Nearly all the applicants come from farm families that are under severe financial pressure – a quarter of farms have an income of £20,000 or less, with upland grazing livestock farms facing the greatest financial struggles.

James Hodgson, a farmer from Bampton, received a training voucher to enable him to subsidise the cost of trailer training. He said: “The scheme was very beneficial and the administration simple. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to pay for my trailer test without the voucher. Passing the test has allowed me to transport equipment and livestock, such as taking my cattle to shows and auction marts, which improves the viability of the farm.”

Liam Braithwaite from Scales Farm, near Penrith, said: “The £200 Training Voucher gave me the opportunity to gain a licence sooner than expected as it is very expensive to operate a 360 digger. This has given me more options with work as I am now qualified to work on sites away from the farm as well.”

Other initiatives the Network offers include Fell Gather events, which promote sustainable communities through sustainable energy and recycling and attracts around 1,500 people each year.

As well as supporting farmers directly, the Network also aims to help them by educating people in more urban areas about farming, food, the environment and local, rural communities. The farming road shows are run by volunteers, who are members of the Network, and are trained in how to interpret different aspects of farming to the general public. The events help increase knowledge about farming, food and the landscape.

The Storm Emma Hardship fund was set up with grants from Cumbria Community Foundation in response to the devastating snow and wind conditions experienced in Cumbria in early 2018. The Farmer Network administered the fund, awarding more than £30,000 to 79 farms.

The Farmer Network administered the fund, set up in recognition of the hardship faced by households impacted by the extreme weather and was not a compensation scheme with awards typically between £250 and £500, with a small number of the worst affected households getting £1,000. Almost 80 farms were supported.

More recently the Network started The Business Support for Young People programme for 18- 30 year olds who have a farm-related business idea but are limited by the resources or opportunities available to them. It offers business planning, one-to-one support from an experienced farm business adviser and the chance to apply for a low interest loan and training grant, plus ongoing support from a volunteer business mentor.

Farmer Network Project Manager, Kate Gascoyne, said: “The first group will be started in October 2019 and we want to hear from young people who are keen to develop a business idea related to farming. We are delighted to receive this grant which, in these uncertain times, we will use to guide and support these young people to enable them to become the future of farming in Cumbria.”


A confident future

Imagine not being able to work, play sport or socialise. There are many people in our community who feel excluded from enjoying these things which most of us take for granted.

More than 7,000 adults in Cumbria have a learning disability. Many feel isolated and wouldn’t take part in activities outside their comfort zone. However, due to the support of Carlisle Mencap, its 400 service users across the county are looking at a more confident future and a sense of improved well-being.

Tim has come on leaps and bounds since he started attending Carlisle Mencap, so much so that he also helps the team leaders on day trips and at activities. Tim was a very shy youngster when he first started attending Carlisle Mencap. Now in his teens, he has gradually improved his sense of well-being and his confidence. He has become a lot more independent by taking part in projects run by the charities award-winning studio facility, based at its Grace Little Centre for children. The studio produces animation and films, arts and crafts projects, including work for exhibitions. A great example of how Tim has grown in confidence is that he was happy to be interviewed by the local media when a film made at the studio won the National Crimebeat Award. Tim has also taken on some part-time work outside Carlisle Mencap and has developed into a mature, happy, confident individual and his team leaders and support workers can’t speak highly enough of him.

Carlisle Mencap has received more than £75,000 from Cumbria Community Foundation since 2002. The first grant received was to run pilot activity sessions for young people, aged 13 and above. From then on, grants have supported the employment of care workers, a weekend youth club, toys and equipment, a bi-weekly club for 8 – 18 year olds with learning and/or physical disabilities in the Wigton and North West Allerdale area, and the Activate Sports Development programme, which helps people with learning difficulties join in with mainstream exercise.

Carlisle Mencap was established more than 50 years ago, by a group of parents who wanted to provide a number of quality services for young people with learning disabilities and their families to make life easier.

It provides a wide range of services including children’s activities, adult and children’s community services, including outreach support and supported living, a rights and advice service, and a Cumbria autism family support project. Respite is available to children and young people 24 hours day 365 days a year at the Grace Little Centre and for adults at California House. The charity also runs Doves Café on Chapel Street and a shop on Botchergate, both of which are run by clients and supported by a small team of volunteers.

Its Activate Sports Development programme is designed specifically for people with learning and physical disabilities. It uses sport to develop physical and social skills, promote self-esteem, improve physical well-being and general health, and empower people with a learning disability to be more confident and happier.

One young man who is autistic was initially extremely anxious, unsettled and reluctant to join in. With encouragement, guidance and a routine, he became an integral part of the group, enthusiastic and noticeably fitter. Over 40 members have benefited from the project, increasing their social circle and now feel included in mainstream activities outside of their comfort zone.

The project has given people the chance to get fit and exercise in a supported environment. It started with playing football, then a snooker night and then gym sessions with specially adapted equipment to provide inclusive Crossfit sessions.

Dan Campbell, Sports Development Officer, said: “Our guys come from a learning disability world that is small and without access to exercise. We’re taking them into the wider community and encouraging them to exercise like everyone else.”

31 year old Carl is enjoying his new found fitness: “I go with people who have disabilities and make new friends. I have lots of friends now. It’s really nice. I feel more confident in myself than before. I’m getting really good at things, when I started I could only do five press ups and now I can do 20. I struggled to do sit ups at first and now I can do 15. We do circuits, six stations, six circuits with 45 seconds on each.”

Earlier this year, the charity celebrated its 50th birthday and Chief Executive, Sheila Gregory, is proud of what has been achieved over the years. She said: “Over 50 years we have grown into a large charity with over 150 staff and 400 services users across Cumbria. Although many things have changed for the better, there are still terrible injustices to fight against. We are still campaigning. The inequalities are still there, but hopefully the inequality will get better – one being the dreadful statistics on the early deaths of many people with learning disability.”

Helping turn lives around

Project John is based in one of the most deprived wards in Barrow and many of the youngsters that it meets have never had the skills or opportunity to take part in local activities.

More than £22,000 in grants has helped turn the lives around of its most hard to reach young people, by giving them real opportunities to grow self-esteem and self-worth participating in community activities.

Project John, is a supported housing project and drop-in centre for 16-25 year olds. It has been providing accommodation, support and training to young people for housing related issues as well as teaching them independent living and employability skills since 1993.

Its first grant administered by the Foundation was awarded in 2009. The grant was used to fund a confidence building trip to Manchester for a group of young people, some of which had never been out of Barrow.

Many of the young people Project John works with are either single or parents with babies. They have no experience of managing their finances even though they live on a very small budget. Another grant funded its ‘Keep you warm’ project, providing young people with the skills to produce home cooked meals, as often young people come to Project John, with no cooking skills and live off unhealthy food.

Nicola Kell, Project Manager, said: “Evidence showed our tenants were unable to sustain having a warm flat during the cold winter months on their limited income. Tenants have a budget of £52 per week and out of this money they must pay for gas, electricity, water, TV licence, clothing and food.

“The grant meant that we could fund cooking courses to provide the tenants with lasting skills in how to eat economically and healthily. A £10 voucher was offered as an incentive to complete the course, which could either be used towards their gas bills or the purchase of a warm, winter coat.”

Many of its young people lack confidence and have low self-esteem and need help with dealing with drug and alcohol abuse. A grant for its Summer Programme helped to get 24 young people off the streets and actively involved in organising and taking in part in a range of their chosen activities to help build life skills and community cohesion.

In 2012, 12 young people travelled to Portsmouth by train to join the tall ships for a theory week on board a training boat, and in 2013, 10 young people spent a week sailing around the UK on the Ocean Youth Trust’s 72ft Challenger Yacht.

“These activities greatly increased the young people’s confidence and self-worth. They learnt communication skills and how to work as a team and it gave them an opportunity, they would never have prior to this grant,” said Nicola.

In 2018, Project John opened a ‘Hub’ on Cavendish Street, which includes a coffee shop, a family room, training kitchen, ICT facilities as well as space for other charities. It offers support and guidance for young people, including housing and benefit advice, accommodation advice, debt management and budgeting, employability skills, parenting skills, independent living skills, legal advice, early help assessments, meetings and contact sessions.

Project John also applies for funding for its individual tenants. Take Ryan for example, he was a young homeless man living in supported accommodation with Project John. He had a bad start in life and has no support from his family. Ryan decided it was time to turn his life around and started attending college but had some setbacks with minor offences. After taking an interest in sailing, he wanted to take part in the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s voyage around Malta. He received a bursary towards the cost of the trip but was unable to meet the total cost.

A grant of £295 meant that Ryan could go on the trip. The grant covered the cost to meet the ship in Malta and covered payment for his passport and an overnight stay in a hotel.

Nicola said: “Through sailing, Ryan has developed leadership skills, communication skills and teamwork, all skills which will enable him to seek employment in Barrow. Ryan is a role model for other young people in our community that face disadvantage and he will be encouraging other young people to try new experiences.”

Funding available for overseas travel

Young people who are wanting to travel abroad and experience foreign culture can apply for funding towards the cost.

The Mary Grave Trust was set up in 1971 by Burton Dunglinson in memory of his mother, Mary Grave, who was from Maryport. Having worked in America in the 1920s, Mr Dunglinson was aware of the value of travel for young people.

The trust began working with Cumbria Community Foundation in 2005. It awards an average of £55,000 each year, supporting more than 70 young people, primarily from West Cumbria.

Young people aged 11-21 can apply for up to £1,200 if they are travelling abroad through educational or youth group trips, work experience or gap year activities. Priority is given to those living in Workington, Maryport and Whitehaven areas and is means-tested, meaning household income must be £594 or less per week.

Most grants fund school trips such as language trips to France and Spain or art and religious studies trips to New York. Other activities supported include work experience in Spain, peer education in The Gambia, a maths winter school in Singapore, an expedition up the Amazon and a guide exchange visit to Eastern Siberia.

Mark Bailey, Deputy Headteacher at Netherhall School, said: “I have organised more than 30 international trips over the last two decades and during that time, hundreds of our students have benefited from the support of the Mary Grave Trust. Seeing at first hand the seminal experiences gained by our students has been a true joy; our school cannot thank Cumbria Community Foundation enough for the support it has shown to our young people and the phenomenal experiences it has provided. The impact that the foreign tours have had on each and every student has been incredible.”

Year 13 student, Chloe Lambert, said: “Without the Mary Grave Trust, I wouldn’t have been able to visit New York and fulfil my dreams of going to such a magical city. What the Trust does is remarkable, and I will be forever grateful to it.”

Gary Higgs, Grants & Donor Services Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “The Mary Grave Trust, which is now worth £1.8 million, is a great example of local philanthropy and how one man has left a lasting legacy for local young people to enjoy for years to come.”

If you would like to apply for a grant, contact Cumbria Community Foundation on 01900 825760 or visit: Mary Grave Trust Fund

Funding available for Clifton and Winscales groups

Community organisations near the Winscales Moor Wind Farm are encouraged to apply for funding.

The Winscales Moor Community Benefit Fund supports community, educational, environmental, or sporting related activities. Examples of projects that the fund will support include improvements to community buildings, increased use of renewable energy and nature conservation.

The fund, managed by Cumbria Community Foundation, was set up by Your Energy Ltd to deliver a range of community benefits in association with the wind farm. Community groups in the parishes of Winscales, Great Clifton and Little Clifton are eligible to apply.

Earlier this year, Cumbria Wildlife Trust received £2,100 for its Get Cumbria Buzzing project. The grant focussed on work in the Winscales area as Graham Jackson-Pitt, Senior Living Landscape Officer, explains: “The fund has helped to really get Cumbria buzzing! This new initiative, delivered through Cumbria Wildlife Trust and other local partners on and around Cumbria’s west coast, has been working with local communities to increase numbers and diversity of pollinating insects including bees, butterflies and hoverflies.

“The project has been working at the Great Clifton roundabout and on both the Distington and Stainburn by-pass with Highways England and local volunteers to clear unwanted scrub, plant wildflowers and spread their seed. We’re also working with partners to make sure that the future management of these sites is correct and will make long-lasting positive changes to these local green spaces.”

Gary Higgs, Grants & Donor Services Officer said: “We’re very proud to have been managing the Winscales Moor Community Benefit Fund since 2008. Almost £45,000 has been distributed to local community groups and projects in the Winscales area. We want to support and encourage more projects that promote and/or implement the sustainable use of energy and resources.”

The deadline for the next round of applications is 28th February 2020. For more information on the Fund contact Gary Higgs on 01900 825760.