Changing lives for East Anglia’s ‘change-making’ communities

Kelly Lindsay, director of Friend in Deed, on a visit to the Badgers Wood Care Home at Drayton Pict

Kelly Lindsay, director of Friend in Deed, on a visit to the Badgers Wood Care Home at Drayton Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Community projects across East Anglia are benefiting from a charitable fund, which is helping to turn big ideas into successful projects.

Volunteers working at Geldeston Lock l;ast summer Picture: Geoff Doggett.

Volunteers working at Geldeston Lock l;ast summer Picture: Geoff Doggett. - Credit: Geoff Doggett.

A charity that brings children to cheer up the elderly has received a massive boost to funds following a £10,000 grant from Aviva's Community Fund, which supports scores of good causes across East Anglia.

Friend in Deed aims to create friendship across generations by organising inter-generational projects that aim to enrich the lives of others with the primary aim of promoting kindness.

Kelly Lindsay, Friend in Deed director, said: 'Our aim is to focus on improving the mental and physical health of older people, including those living with dementia, who can so often feel forgotten and alienated from their communities.'

The organisation's Little Visitors scheme, which benefits from the grant, encourages participating parents or guardians to take children of all ages into care homes and sheltered housing to play games, chat to and spend time with residents, building long-term friendships sustained by the continuity of regular visits.

Fenella Bhaskar on the allotments at Stoke Holy Cross Picture: Contributed

Fenella Bhaskar on the allotments at Stoke Holy Cross Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

'Our scheme helps to enhance the lives of older people by letting them engage with children to brighten mood, improve mental health and promote integration in the local community,' says Kelly, a former Norwich teacher. 'Ultimately, we want to promote kindness across the generations.

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'The donation from Aviva will be hugely helpful because it will allow us to go into not-for-profit care homes or ones that struggle for funds. We currently visit 14 homes in Norfolk and Lowestoft and we aim to expand that figure to 20 by April, then 30-40 going forward.'

Jude Brooks, from the Aviva Community Fund team, added: 'There are change-makers across East Anglia doing amazing things to benefit their local communities.

'And, with a little help from the Aviva Community Fund – which makes grants in the categories of health and wellbeing, the environment and skills for life – 72 grassroots projects across the eastern region now have the funding to bring their ideas to life.'

Team members of UEA's men's lacrosse team Picture: Contributed

Team members of UEA's men's lacrosse team Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

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For example, a group of some 10 volunteers has received £4,000 to enable continued work on the restoration of Geldeston Lock, a community heritage project under way between Beccles and Bungay.

Bernard Watson, on behalf of the group, said work had started in 2017 with regular help from skilled visitors from the Waterways Recovery Group, who camp out in Bungay for a week while assisting with the work.

'The lock gates have already gone and the brick walls forming the basin are in a very fragile state of repair,' says Bernard, adding that in its Victorian heyday the lock allowed wherries to trade between Beccles and Bungay.

'When we get finished, hopefully next year, we very much hope the wherry Albion will visit us. Although the lock will never now be navigable, we want to get schools involved to explain its history to children and to keep it as a heritage icon and local attraction. Aviva's help has been invaluable.'

Still out in the fresh air, at Stoke Holy Cross just south of Norwich, about two dozen allotment holders are celebrating a £1,000 grant to enable them to store machinery securely, allowing members more opportunities to share equipment.

'It means our allotment holders will be able to access machinery at any time, so those who struggle to maintain their plots due to age, ill health or family commitments can keep on top of their own plots more easily,' said Ian Himpleman, chairman of the village's allotments association, which has been running for about 10 years.

Expressing the group's thanks to Aviva, Ian explained people unable to afford their own sheds will also be able to store personal gardening tools on site, or save them having to carry tools to the site.

An added bonus will be the ability to store parish council machinery used to maintain footpaths, freeing up limited and valuable space in the nearby pavilion building.

A successful sports team, meanwhile, will be improving its equipment stock following a £990 donation from Aviva's Community Fund.

The UEA men's lacrosse team, currently riding high in British Universities and Colleges Sport's division one, can now afford to upgrade essential equipment such as sticks, pads and helmets.

Club president and first team player Sebastian Grant said: 'Traditionally associated with girls' private schools in the UK, lacrosse is becoming one of the fastest-growing university sports.

'In my first year here, we had 100 members, now that's increased to 140 and it's one of the most competitive sports at UEA.' He added: 'The best way to describe it is like ice hockey without the ice.'

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