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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Barrow pensioners’ support group wins £999k

PRACTICAL pensioners have fixed it to receive a lottery grant worth almost £1m.

Barrow RespectAbility project has been awarded the grant from the Silver Dreams Fund beating competition from thousands of other registered charities across the UK.

The project works to support and encourage older people to utilise their skills, develop new ones and encourage social interaction.

Participants are encouraged to share their skills, which has resulted in more than 50 older volunteers leading the majority of the activities, ranging from cooking and crafting to IT.

Set up as a pilot project by Age UK Barrow and District in 2012, the £999,736 grant will see the project expand to reach older people with dementia and people caring for their partners.

The four-year plan will also safeguard 12 jobs.

Joanne Smith, deputy chief executive of Age UK Barrow and District, was delighted with the announcement.

“It’s the biggest news we’ve ever had,” she said.

“We’re quite amazed we’ve got it because we were up against some very big players.

“It’s been really hard but our staff have been fantastic; we’ve got 50 volunteers involved and they will take it forward.”

With flagship projects like Men in Sheds in full swing, the challenge now is to expand on the success of the past 18 months.

As a pilot project RespectAbility had to engage with 300 beneficiaries.

“We have doubled that,” added Ms Smith. Everything we’ve done we’ve exceeded which is absolutely amazing.”

A furniture restoration project will be launched soon to complement the portfolio of activities including DIY, knitting and Tai Chi, delivered from Lakeland House, in Abbey Road.

Many of the groups now produce handmade items which are sold at craft fairs, on the charity’s ebay site, and to the local community.

A key objective for the RespectAbility project will be to widen access for the most vulnerable groups: those with life-limiting illnesses, including dementia, carers and isolated men.

These people have the greatest need but a lack of transport, companionship, respite cover and physical difficulties are all barriers to participation. The scaled up project will address these issues and increase access.

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