The Department of Health has awarded 30 voluntary sector projects grants totalling over £4 million as part of the Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development (IESD) Fund and a further 11 projects have been awarded grants totalling over £1.6 million as part of the Health and Social Care Volunteering Fund (HSCVF).
The IESD projects cover a range of different services from dementia friendly swimming to increasing support for those bereaved by suicide. HSCVF projects work across a range of areas including autism, chronic or long term conditions, obesity in children and mental health.
Minister for Care and Support, Norman Lamb, said:
Volunteers and community projects make a difference to millions of people’s lives and help us to build a fairer society. I am delighted this money will help these projects to continue supporting people with health and care needs in their local communities.
One of the charities benefitting from the scheme is the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), which will use the funding to develop its dementia friendly swimming project by providing low intensity exercise, relaxation sessions and Swimfit for people with dementia and their carers.
Head of Health and Wellbeing at ASA, Lara Lill, said:
Dementia is one of the biggest health challenges facing us today. The Dementia Friendly Swimming project will contribute to making a difference to people’s lives. It is designed to create a safe and friendly environment working to lower the barriers to participation.
Charity VoiceAbility will use the funding for its Speak Out On Line project to create the UK’s first digital engagement platform for people with learning disabilities.
Deputy CEO of VoiceAbility, Paul Morrish, said:
As an advocacy charity committed to strengthening voices, championing rights and changing lives, we’re delighted the government has invested in a project that will help put the voices of the people we work with right at the heart of decision making.
Charities Samaritans and Cruse Bereavement Care will use their funding to provide support groups for those bereaved through suicide.
Executive Director of Policy, Research and Development at Samaritans, Joe Ferns, said:
We will be running a series of sessions for small groups of people to meet and have facilitated discussions about their experiences, how they feel and how they are coping. Using this experience we will then set up groups across England and Wales.
While bereavement of any kind can cause intense feelings of grief and loss, Samaritans and Cruse know that bereavement by suicide can be particularly traumatic. People can be left coping not just with loss, but also with painful questions, which can cause feelings of anger, guilt and desperation.
Charity Best Beginnings aims to give all babies in the UK a healthy start in life, and the Director of Development, Helen Hunter, said the funding will help them improve the health and wellbeing of families from disadvantaged backgrounds who are known to suffer from health inequalities.
Ambitious about Autism will use the funding for its myVoice project, which supports young people with autism.
Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, Jolanta Lasota, said:
We are delighted that the Department of Health is generously funding our myVoice project. Through the project, young volunteers with autism will be able to have a direct influence on the services they access.
Other successful organisations include the Royal Voluntary Service, South Yorkshire Housing Association, Royal National Institute of Blind People and Diabetes UK.