Joy as projects across East Anglia are awarded lottery grants
- Credit: Ian Burt
Thousands of people who are in some way overlooked by society stand to benefit from £2.9m worth of Big Lottery Fund grants.
The money will help pay for a school bus for special needs pupils, new play equipment and will improve the quality of life for terminally-ill cancer patients.
Other projects being funded include a friendship group for vulnerable people, as well as therapeutic concerts and workshops.
One of the biggest grants is going to Age Concern Swaffham and District, which helps elderly people in that part of the county.
The first payment from the lottery is expected within a week.
The group's treasurer, James Dean, said the money would be used to help pay for two projects. He said: 'The first strand is to continue our befriending service, where volunteers visit lonely people in their homes.
'The grant will continue to find it for another five years and we currently cover a five-mile radius from Swaffham, but now we can do 10 miles, so there will be less lonely people.'
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Mr Dean said the second project was a 'hospital buddy service' which involved volunteers driving disadvantages people - who would otherwise find it difficult to get to hospital - to their appointments.
The volunteers also look after them while they are at the hospital and make sure they know what they have been told.
Mr Dean said: 'They then make sure the GP is in the picture. It's a holistic approach.'
Lyn Cole, Big Lottery Fund England grant making director, said she was delighted the lottery could help so many worthy groups.
She said: 'Whether it is supporting parents and their children to address anger and substance abuse issues or helping older people remain active and involved within their local community, these projects will make a huge difference to the lives of many.
'They are excellent examples of local people working together to help others in their community to build on the skills they have and maximise their potential.'
Grants to boost play, healthy eating and outdoor adventure
Three deserving projects in Great Yarmouth have received funding in the latest round of lottery grants.
Hemsby Hedgehogs received £10,000 to run play and stay sessions for local families.
'This will create a support network for families and engage them in positive activities.
Hannah Gray, one of the group 's founding member, said: 'We started in September 2013, as a group of mums living in Hemsby who wanted a playgroup in our village.
'We have grown to be one of the biggest playgroups in the county with some weeks having 40 children plus parents and carers.
'We have been running parent-led and all voluntary every term-time Friday in Hemsby Village Hall since we started.
'It's been a big success, and we've had support from local business and fundraising events to buy new equipment.
'This lottery funding will enable us to buy a weatherproof container to store our kit in to replace our leaky shed – mouldy toys are not nice toys.
'We will also be able to fund one of our mums to run some of the sessions and put more of her time into the administration of such a busy group.
'We are so pleased to receive this support and it will enable us to improve the playgroup experience for all the families from Hemsby and the surrounding villages who come along each week.'
An organisation which aims to bring back the love of food has also been awarded.
Feeding Inspiration, which is based in Caister Road, has been given £9,980 for their Creative Kitchen Scheme.
They will use the funding to run a range of activities based around nutrition and healthy eating, particularly targeting children and young people.
This will enable the organisation to provide better education in food and encourage healthier lifestyles.
The Caister Squadron of the Air Training Corps were awarded £2,123 to pay for outdoor activity and adventure training equipment.
This will ensure members have access to updated, safe equipment and will enable them to participate in enhanced activities.
Other grant winners from the region
-The Cross and Dragon Trust, Cromer, to receive £9,875 for an adventure week for young people at risk of anti-social behaviour.
-Attleborough Boxing Club to get £9,835 for a 'Girl Power' project to benefit young women.
-Salthouse Parish Council to receive £2,343 for the provision of a public access defibrillator.
-King's Lynn-based Big Heart and Soul Choir to get £10,000 for 20th anniversary celebrations.
-King's Lynn's Solace of Souls to receive £9,850 for a volunteer training programme.
-Norwich Men's Shed to get £10,000 to develop its service.
-Thetford's Arka Skills to get £9,915 to fun integration classes and activities for immigrants.
Do you have a story about a new project at your community group? Email Stuart Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org