Voluntary and community groups awarded £83,000 in grants to continue to provide important support to city residents through the coronavirus pandemic.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council announced 41 groups are to receive funding through the latest wave of its community and voluntary grants fund. The authority has allocated £50,000 to the fund, which has been matched by a further £33,300 in money given by the Community Foundation for Staffordshire.

It is the latest funding to be awarded by the council directly to support local groups in delivering important community services, after more than £100,000 was awarded to 65 voluntary and community organisations during the first national lockdown early in 2020.

This round of funding has prioritised charities and community groups based in the city delivering services to Stoke-on-Trent residents which address one or more of the following areas: Mental health support, particularly services which focus on reducing health inequalities involving harder-to-reach groups and communities,  Tackling loneliness and isolation, Preventing domestic violence and abuse or supporting victims.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “I’m delighted to announce that a further 41 community and voluntary groups will directly benefit from this funding. We have such fantastic groups in the city who work so hard to support local people at this most trying of times. The grants are another boost to help these important groups continue to invest in services and support people in the city who need help the most.”

Leanne Macpherson, Head of Programmes at The Community Foundation, said: “Every year the voluntary sector makes an invaluable contribution to the lives of people across the city. We’re pleased to have been able to work with the city council on this initiative, and to bring more benefit to the sector than we could have if we’d each worked separately.  As many voluntary organisations understand, it shows how more can be achieved by working in partnership.”

Groups to receive funding include charity Men Unite, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Samaritans and Just Family Community Interest Company (CIC).

Men Unite founder Craig Spillane said: “This is amazing news. Covid has exacerbated anxiety and depression and we’re seeing more and more men affected. We offer socially-distanced drop in, phone and online support with mental health issues for 5,326 men across all of Stoke-on-Trent. We have a counsellor on site one day a week and offer signposting to many other services. We respond rapidly to suicide attempts. This money provides extra funding that will go towards employing two support workers who will be available 12 hours a day, seven days a week, to offer socially-distanced face-to-face, one-to-one and group support, expanding the counsellor support we offer now. It will make a huge difference during these difficult times.” Visit Men Unite here 

Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle Samaritans director Carol Grant said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that the work that the Samaritans does for our community has been recognised. Covid has been extremely challenging for so many people. This funding will help us do more in the community. We can provide better support for our volunteers who have continued to work from our branch in Burslem during this pandemic. We can provide help to those who need it most, at a time and in a manner of their choice. With this funding we can put in place better social distancing measures, and deliver a more considered operational plan for the longer term. It means we can now provide Covid-friendly remote training for our volunteers, and when the time is right it will allow us to reach out and engage more in our community who rely on us for help and support. Our volunteers play an invaluable role, and we are always on the lookout for potential volunteers to join us. With this additional funding, there has never been a better time to get involved. We provide both listening and support volunteer opportunities, please click on the link to register your interest: https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/volunteer. Please continue to follow the public health guidance, stay safe and be well.”

Just Family CIC is a community-led organisation based in the Torus Wellbeing Clinic in Shelton. It provides specialist perinatal, maternal and parent mental health wellbeing support to families in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and surrounding areas. The organisation delivers mental health support to mums, dads and children using a whole family approach, through play sessions, baby bonding sessions, birth trauma sessions and physical activities such as yoga.

Just Family CIC founder Janine Proctor said: “We are working with around 50 families and individuals right at the moment. This additional funding will allow us to provide our vital mental wellbeing support to pre-natal and post-natal mums, dads and families. We will deliver group sessions, one-to-one sessions and social activities, all with a focus on bettering mental wellbeing for the whole family. Delivering services like ours helps to reduce isolation, anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder, building a positive mindset to move forward. It really is great news for the people that we support who find our service and support invaluable at times of distress.” Visit www.facebook.com/justfamilycic for more information.

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