Countywide grant-givers donations help to change lives in Northampton

Carol Spencer and Lee Gilbert have between them been volunteering at the 50+ BSL group for 15 years. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.
Carol Spencer and Lee Gilbert have between them been volunteering at the 50+ BSL group for 15 years. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

A Northampton British Sign Language group can now visit National Trust sites, and therapists can visit schools in the borough to help vulnerable children, thanks to a hefty new grant.

May was a great month for community groups as Northamptonshire Community Foundation awarded £187,747 to those in need - two of those recipients were Deafconnect and KidsAid.

The 50+ BSL is on once a fortnight at the community centre. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

The 50+ BSL is on once a fortnight at the community centre. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

Deafconnect, in Spencer Dallington Community Centre, received £5,000 grant to for activities and support groups for their 50+ British Sign Language (BSL) group. These namely include specialist groups for deaf people with different mental health problems.

Lee Gilbert is the BSL group leader, attending it since he was a boy. He took over the reigns of his older predecessors and is now giving back to them through his voluntary work.

The group has been running for 20 years now and used to be the "Darby and Joan group" in Green Street near to the train station.

Carol Spencer has also been volunteering by Lee's side at 50+ BSL for seven years.

Pictured left - right: University of Northampton senior lecturer Lucy Atkinson, KidsAid manager Suki Bassi and HR worker at the University of Norhtampton, Jagruti Patel. The university has teamed up with KidsAid as part of the ChangeMaker Fellowship.

Pictured left - right: University of Northampton senior lecturer Lucy Atkinson, KidsAid manager Suki Bassi and HR worker at the University of Norhtampton, Jagruti Patel. The university has teamed up with KidsAid as part of the ChangeMaker Fellowship.

She said: “The foundation supports the 50+ group in breaking down barriers that deaf people face daily, reducing social isolation, improving social mobility, learning new skills and developing confidence.

"If they don't come here where do they go? They have got nowhere else.

"We have found that their well being has improved, as it decreases their social isolation."

The money will help pay for coach trips and outside charities like Sign Health to give talks.

The community foundation, on average, gives out just over £1 million to charities and local causes annually, supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

The crucial funding has helped to support some of the county’s much-needed projects, including those tackling issues such as poverty, health and wellbeing and social isolation.

KidsAid received £4,800 to provide wellbeing workshops to vulnerable families to improve emotional and mental health.

The charity works across the East of England and provides creative arts therapy and counselling for children that have suffered any form of trauma including, abuse, neglect and serious illness.

Charity manager Suki Bassi said: "There's so many families out there that need support but they don't qualify for any support because their needs aren't high enough.

"But with the wellbeing programme - with NCF's money - we go out to community centres and we go and work for six weeks with parents and young children together. The aim of what we are doing is to improve attachments with parent and child but also to make connections for people in the community.

"So by the time the summer holidays come round they don't just lock a front door and put their child in front of the television - they know there's a community and they'll go to the park together."

This project will run for a whole year, mostly in Northampton, to improve physical and mental health.

Others from across the county include Citizens Advice Services in Corby and Kettering which received £4,968 to continue to provide a specialist advice service, supporting those on low incomes to address welfare and debt related problems.

Collyweston Historical and Preservation Society was awarded £4,597.87 to support an archaeological dig alongside a heritage celebration weekend.

Anthony Brinklow, grants co-ordinator at Northamptonshire Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted to support a variety of projects across the county on behalf of our network of donors and fund holders.

"We are able to support those in greatest need, helping a range of groups and organisations make a real difference to their communities.”