The Community Project at Union Church in Margate has been awarded a £2,500 grant to help it to continue to support vulnerable adults in the Thanet community during the pandemic.
The pilot Unity in the Community programme started in May 2019 with the aim of supporting the isle’s vulnerable adults. Many of project’s guests have learning difficulties or mental health issues.
The grant from Allchurches Trust will help to fund a new kitchen, which will mean more community groups will be able to share the building as coronavirus restrictions continue to be eased. The grant means the project now has around a third of the £6,750 needed the work.
Pre-Covid The Community Project held three sessions a week for adults with physical disabilities, learning difficulties or poor mental health to help tackle isolation and make sure people are included in their communities.
Since the lockdown in March staff have kept in touch with service users by phone and have also put those in need in contact with foodbanks, helped arrange hospital appointments and taken part in socially distanced walks.
The hope is that the project can return to its face to face sessions at the church in September.
Project manager Melody Wimhurst said: We are thrilled to have this funding. The church has also helped us. It means we can refurbish the kitchen and help lots more vulnerable people when it is safe to reopen.
“We are getting set up now and we hope, government guidelines dependent, to open in September. We are really missing all our lovely service users although we have still been working with people over the Summer.”
Service user Barry added: “The project has helped me quite a lot with getting back on my feet and moving into a new flat and I hope to get back to normal soon.”
Kent County Councillor Barry Lewis, who is the Patron of the Community Project, said: “ I am delighted that our organisation have been recognised nationally in a grant of £2500, to expand the community work in Thanet and I’m sure that this is further proof that the organisation is reaching out to the most vulnerable people in the area.”
Allchurches Trust is one of the UK’s largest grant-making charities and gave more than £16 million to churches, charities and communities in 2018. Its funds come from its ownership of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.
Isle disabilities and loneliness
Thanet has the highest number of adults with disabilities in the county, some 31,348 according to census data, which accounts for around a quarter of the isle’s residents. Around half of those would class themselves as seriously limited due to health issues.
Thanet also has the highest number of disability benefits claimants with 16,238 people claiming either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Attendance Allowance (AA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), equivalent to 11.5% of the population of the district. Sadly, the isle has the largest gap in employment for people affected by disabilities with more than twice as many non-disabled people in employment – 83%- as opposed to just 44% of those who have a disability.
Loneliness and isolation can have a crushing impact on the lives of people affected by disability, with research from the Jo Cox Commission showing 50% of disabled people feeling lonely on any given day.
The importance of The Community Project is to break that loneliness and promote social inclusion.
If you would like to get involved with the Community project, contact Melody Wimhurst at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07760352290.