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Call issued for young people to make a difference in their community

Young people with a passion for where they live are being encouraged to ensure their voice is heard and make a difference to their community.

Cumbria Community Foundation is looking for young people aged 16 to 25 and living in West Cumbria to join the #CanDo Youth Advisory Panel.

#CanDo encourages community organisations to apply for funding of up to £5,000 for community projects, led by young people. The applications are considered by a youth committee, ensuring that decisions are taken by the very people who will benefit for generations to come.

The committee meets regularly to examine and debate applications, and has a say in which projects they feel will make a difference in their communities and should be supported.

Nearly 30 different organisations that work with young people have received funding to carry out projects in their communities, so far.

This is the fourth round of recruitment for the youth advisory committee, which is made up of young people with a wide range of lived experiences and who are from different backgrounds and forms a crucial part of the Foundation’s grant making and helps steer its charitable work in a more youth-led direction.

Some of the #CanDo Youth Committee 2022-23 members

Sophie Crozier, 24 and from Cockermouth, joined the panel about a year ago. She explained: “Being a part of the #CanDo Youth Advisory Committee has been a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the inspiring projects and people in the local communities of West Cumbria.

“I’ve met some remarkable people from doing this, and it’s allowed me to develop skills and knowledge in evaluation. This has been a fantastic initiative to get involved in, in terms of feeling as though you have a say in what’s happening in your community, but also to feel more in tune with what’s happening at a local level.

“I would recommend this experience to anyone who is considering applying, and only wish that I could continue on next year.”

Twenty-four-year-old Thomas Allaker joined last October and says the difference they are making to their communities is vital.

“We meet once every couple of months to review applications for funding for youth projects, and we discuss what we like about a proposal, what doubts we might have, and what adjustments we think should be made before we approve funding, with the aim being to ensure the funding allocated has the best chance of improving young people’s lives,” he said.

“It’s a chance to help support young people in the part of the country where I grew up, especially those who might not have had the opportunities that I had. Hopefully the funding we allocate helps project provide these opportunities to the next generation.

“Anyone thinking about it, go for it!”

Fellow panelist Aimee O’Driscoll, 19, who lives in Whitehaven, added: “It is an amazing opportunity that has been very rewarding for me. I enjoyed learning about all of the beneficial projects that are in the local area that I perhaps wouldn’t have come across otherwise.”

Over the past three years, the youth committee has awarded £123,840 in funding to 27 youth-led projects in West Cumbria, including a recent grant to Whitehaven Sea Cadets to run a nationwide campaign to save the bees. The cadets packed and posted ‘bee bombs’ – native wildflower seedballs – to every unit in the UK, inspiring planting that could result in more than 15,000 square feet of bee-friendly habitats.

Funded by Sellafield Ltd as part of their SiX – Social Impact Multiplied programme, with match funding from Thomas Graham & Sons and local donors, #CanDo is part of Transforming West Cumbria, a multi-year social investment programme developed by Cumbria Community Foundation.

Annalee Holliday, Senior Grants & Programmes Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “We are very excited to be offering this opportunity again to young people in West Cumbria. The #CanDo Youth Advisory Committee was launched in 2020 and has been very successful. We believe that young people should be heard and have their views valued and acted upon. Young people have enormous potential to make a positive change – their involvement is crucial to the future of our communities. The young people on the panel bring expertise and a fresh pair of eyes to help us decide which projects are funded.”

Applications to join the #CanDo Youth Advisory Committee are open now and will close on Wednesday 10th January 2024. For more information, download the #CanDo Information Pack.

For more information or to apply for a grant from the #CanDo Fund, click here or call the grants team on 01900 825760 or email

Legacy is still helping the elderly

Laurel House in Brampton is still supporting older people in the community more than half a century after it opened its doors, despite being sold almost 20 years ago.

The property was gifted to the senior citizens of the town in the sixties and was set up by Mrs Mary Cartmell as a warm and welcoming place for the older generation as somewhere to socialise, have a meal and enjoy a variety of activities.

For 40 years the property on Main Street played host to endless hot meals, laughter, companionship and even carpet bowls upstairs until it became too expensive to run. It was sold in 2004 and the proceeds were invested to provide grants to local groups supporting older people in Brampton through The Laurel House Management Committee.

As the committee members themselves were growing older the decision was made to transfer remaining funds to Cumbria Community Foundation (CCF) this year to carry on the legacy.

The Laurel House Brampton Fund has now been set up and continues to operate in the same way honouring Mrs Cartmell’s wishes. Some former committee members remain involved and have been advising on grant applications as well as ensuring CCF continue to support the same groups as part of the transfer.

L-R Carol Saunders, Diane Davidson, Maureen Granville, Michael Godridge, Ellen Clements

Mrs Maureen Granville who is now in her 80s, has been instrumental to Laurel House’s success throughout its history and has very fond memories.

Mrs Granville said: “Laurel House contacted the WI where I was a member asking for some help cooking lunches. We used to make up to 30 lunches as well as send out meals to elderly people. I have some lovely memories, like on pancake day one year we made up a huge bowl of batter only to discover we didn’t have a frying pan.

“Laurel House brought happiness to many socially isolated elderly people. It was a warm and happy place. Mrs Cartmell would be so pleased to know that the charity is still helping people, it’s a wonderful way to remember her and the memories of cherished times.”

Mrs Granville became a trustee of the Laurel House Management Committee when it formed and served as its secretary, alongside custodian trustee and treasurer James Williamson until it transferred to the Foundation in 2022. Their commitment to ensuring Mrs Cartmell’s legacy lives on has been extraordinary.

Cumbria Community Foundation began receiving applications to the Laurel House Brampton Fund earlier this year and has been giving out grants to volunteer groups that work with older people and charitable not-for-profit organisations that support people over the age of 60 in Brampton.

Ellen Clements, senior grants and donor services officer at the Foundation said: “All five applicants that we have so far awarded have received previous funding from the Laurel House Management Committee. I have been working closely with the previous Trustees to ensure that the funding goes to the groups that are a priority for the fund and they are happy to support.”

Brampton Bus Buddies, which was set up in 2014 is one of the groups that have been awarded funding by the Laurel House Brampton Fund.

Harry Urwin Simpson, treasurer, said: “We help people overcome isolation and enjoy the company of other people. For some it’s about getting their independence back after losing their driving licence due to ill health. For others, it’s simply about having a friend to travel with. This generous grant will allow us to treat our members to a meal out on one of our outings especially in this current climate.”

Tim Cartmell is a member of Cumbria Community Foundation’s main grants committee and is also the son of Laurel House founder Mary Cartmell. He said: “My mother’s aim was to support the older generation in Brampton and I think it’s fair to say she succeeded. It’s incredible that well over half a century later we are still supporting people that ironically would have been youngsters all those years ago. She would be delighted.”

If you know of an organisation that could possibly be supported by the Laurel House Brampton Fund, click here.

Helping refugees build new lives in Cumbria

Refugees who have escaped with their lives from war-torn countries have spoken of their appreciation to Cumbrians after finding sanctuary here.

Families from countries including Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria have been helped to settle with grants from Cumbria Community Foundation’s Welcome Fund.

In many cases the grants have paid for essentials such as children’s clothes.

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said Cumbrians have made a huge difference.

“It has been wonderful to see the generosity of Cumbrians in helping refugees and asylum seekers who have come to the county after being forced from their homes,” said Andy.

“We established the Welcome Fund at the request of the local councils, charities and churches when the UK Government agreed to welcome refugees fleeing war in Syria. Further events, including the war in Ukraine has created a growing need and, as a result of generous donations, we have been able to help many desperate families as they attempt to adapt to their new circumstances and homes in Cumbria.

“I would very much encourage any Cumbrians who are able, to make a donation to the Welcome Fund, large or small. As the testimony we have received from these families shows, it can make a real difference.”

Youssef Abadi was shot in his right arm, stomach and foot while sitting outside his house in Syria. The bullets are still in his body: an unwanted legacy of the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011.

Youssef and his wife Aisha managed to escape their country. They spent several years at a refugee camp in Lebanon before coming to Penrith four years ago. The couple and their three sons have been made extremely welcome in Cumbria. “The people are very friendly,” says Aisha. “They are very helpful in helping me to learn English.”

Aisha is hoping to enrol on a hair and beauty course. Youssef was a lorry driver in Syria. His wounds cause ongoing pain and health problems, which make it hard to find work. “People are very nice here,” he says. “Our neighbours called an ambulance to take me to hospital when I was ill.”

Further support came from the Welcome Fund. The family received £750: £150 for each person. This was spent on clothes – mainly for the children – food, and on transporting Youssef to and from Wigan, where he went for hospital treatment.

Aisha and Youssef miss their friends and family in Syria. “I haven’t seen my family for 11 years,” says Aisha. “When I speak to my mum on the phone, I always cry.”

Roqia Hashimi and her family fled for their lives from Afghanistan when the country was seized by the Taliban in 2021. “My husband was in the Afghan army when the Taliban took control,” says Roqia, who was pregnant with her 18-month-old son Amir at the time.

The family, which also includes son Mustafa, and daughter Marwa, both in primary school, arrived in Penrith in 2022. “They are good people,” says Roqia of the Cumbrians who have made her family so welcome. “They ask if they can help us. There are no other Afghans in Penrith. It can feel lonely. Our neighbours are very important to us.”

The family received £750 from the Welcome Fund. Most of it was spent on winter clothes. Roqia used some of it to buy spectacles. She is hoping to learn to drive. That would be impossible in Afghanistan. Under the Taliban, women are now banned from many public spaces.

Lana with her son, Vov

Svitlana Semiamista – “Lana” to her friends in Cumbria – managed to leave Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, with her son, Vov, who was then aged 7, a few days after Russian troops invaded the country in February 2022. She came to Lazonby that August, staying with a local woman who had volunteered for the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Lana is now renting a house in the village. She is a lawyer with a PhD in philosophy and worked in Kyiv’s high court as an assistant to a judge. In Cumbria she took a job as a cleaner in a local pub, and now cleans at Bells of Lazonby. “One day I came home from working in the pub,” she recalls. “There was a card with £200, from a neighbour: ‘Maybe this will help with things for the house.’ It’s amazing. People are very kind.” Her fridge and washing machine were bought by neighbours. Cumbria Community Foundation’s Welcome Fund provided £150 each for her and Vov, which was spent on clothes.

Lana plans to stay in Lazonby at least until Vov has finished primary school. He is happy here, as is Lana – when she can put events back home out of her mind. “It’s difficult to work as a cleaner after 20 years as a lawyer. I have more chance of a good job in Ukraine. But I don’t know when the war will stop. I must build my new life, step by step.”

To apply individuals and families must be supported by a recognised professional such as a caseworker, faith leader, support worker, representative of a support organisation or a host family.

The Welcome Fund prioritises relief of hardship where it is not covered by Government support, initiatives which support resettlement including access to education and work, and initiatives which promote community integration and reduce social isolation.

To donate to the Welcome Fund, click here or call 01900 825760

*Names of the Abadi family have been changed

South Lakeland joins global network of ‘age friendly’ cities and communities

Older people living in south Cumbria are thriving, thanks to a dedicated mission to make the area more socially inclusive.

As members of the UK Network of Age Friendly Communities, Cumbria Community Foundation is working with residents and key partners to develop a local approach to becoming an age-friendly borough.

Age Friendly is a global scheme, based on the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly Communities framework – creating social and built environments that promote healthy and active later lives for all.

Cumbria is defined as having a “super-ageing” population, which means the number of older residents is increasing, while the number of younger residents is decreasing.

A private donor has given the initial capital to Cumbria Community Foundation to establish Age Friendly South Lakeland and employ an Age Friendly coordinator for a two year period. Further funding was also received from the Morecambe Bay CCG Population Health Fund.

Katie Gatt Age Friendly coordinator

Katie Gatt’s new role as Age Friendly coordinator will see her engage with the community, raising awareness of the opportunities, events and activities on offer. She also works with older residents to shape the community, identifying where there might be gaps.

Katie said: “I’m really looking forward to embracing this new role. Working with our older residents is a real honour, they have so many interesting stories to tell. It’ll be great to be able to help make their futures a little easier”.

Trudy Brayshaw and Alison Nicholson from the Kendal Integrated Care Board (ICB) administering a covid vaccination to Carole McGovern.

When setting up an Age Friendly community, the first six months involves direct engagement with the people of all ages who live there, to identify priorities and create an action plan. In South Lakeland a steering group has been set up, to ensure it is driven by the very community it is creating.

As part of the scheme, there are other opportunities to get grant funding for smaller and larger initiatives.

October 1 was International Day of Older Persons and, to coincide with that, an Age Friendly Festival was held in Kendal Leisure Centre.

High Sheriff Samantha Scott with The Walking Netball ladies.

Organisations and partners were invited to network before the doors opened to the public between 11.30am and 3pm.

The festival showcased what is on offer in the South Lakeland area, helping signpost people to the different relevant agencies and gave visitors the chance to try their hand at activities such as walking netball, Boccia, New Age Kurling, Swimming and much more.

Alex Scott, Julia Dunlop, Glenys Marriott, Sam Scott and Katie Gatt

More than 20 organisations attended with representatives from Active Cumbria, Kendal Library, Carer Support South Lakes, Age UK South Lakeland along with Mayor of Kendal Julie Dunlop and the High Sheriff of Cumbria, Samantha Scott.