The Border Fund

Susan is not from Cumbria but has lived in the county for half of her life. As a mature student she was able to realise an opportunity previously unavailable to her and undertake a degree course.

Susan’s first job in the voluntary sector was funded through Cumbria Community Foundation. After becoming a beneficiary in a will and wanting to give something back, the Border Fund was established. It transpired to Susan that if her charitable giving exceeded 10% of the estate then the total tax bill was reduced from 40% to 36% overall, which was an incentive to increase her personal giving.

The Border Fund provides funding to charitable projects supporting adults with homelessness, hearing loss or other significant life events, as well as providing training to build skills and confidence. It will also support mature students seeking a career change or to undertake a professional qualification or work-based education.

The first grant made from the fund was awarded to Cumbria Deaf Association to provide sign language classes in Carlisle and West Cumbria. It is estimated there are 450 deaf people across Cumbria and over 40,000 with a hearing impairment. Unable to take the same part in conversations, deaf people often feel frustrated and embarrassed.

Ian Wilson, Appeal Director at Cumbria Deaf Association, said: “There is a very definite shortage of Sign Language skills in Cumbria, with interpreters being brought in from out of the county. Our research has shown that the main stumbling block to running Sign Language courses is that people are put off by the cost.

“This funding means we can start running introductory courses and, if successful, aim to attract people to more advanced courses where the skill can lead to job opportunities as well as significant benefits for deaf people.”

Susan said: “I have found the staff at the Foundation extremely helpful. Guiding me, genuinely trying to ascertain my interests so that my donation can be used to the best advantage. Mirroring the areas in which I am most concerned. I feel included and involved. They know what’s going on in Cumbria and where there is a need, and I’m truly grateful for all their help and advice.”