Local charities to benefit from our new community fund

Published on 10 January 2020

A care farm near Carlisle which helps to educate hundreds of local children is celebrating after receiving a financial boost from The Cumberland.

Susan’s Farm at Houghton teaches primary, secondary and special needs children about organic and environmentally friendly farming, as well as providing opportunities for people with long term mental illness, ex-offenders and teenagers with behaviour problems.

It is one of the first beneficiaries of a new charity fund set up by The Cumberland and has just been awarded £45,000 split over the next three years.

Founder Susan Aglionby said: "We are absolutely thrilled. I’m over the moon!

"I’m 75 at my next birthday and I need more help. Most of the admin is done by myself
I was doing emails last night at 11pm. And the farm doesn’t have its own computer. We will use this money to employ someone to work on the admin.

"I am absolutely determined that this organisation should be financially viable and stable, and this money will help us to achieve that."

Susan runs the farm with the help of two staff and says she cannot keep up with demand.

In addition to hosting school visits, the farm offers placements for people with disabilities, learning difficulties and also to those with long term mental illness, as well as offenders and ex-offenders and teenagers with behavioural issues.

"So many people benefit," says Susan. "Five of our care farming guys have achieved their quad bike driving qualification. They have long term mental health issues, some have been in hospital for 10 or 12 years. We are also working on offering NVQs."

Another charity to receive funding from The Cumberland is Dignity in Dementia, which is based in Arnside in south Cumbria. It will receive £60,000 over three years.

Co-founder Lesley Gill said: ‘It’s wonderful, we are hugely delighted to receive this money.

"We are very well known and have been doing lots of work in south Cumbria, but this will allow us to do more in the west and north of the county."

Last year The Cumberland increased its charitable giving, pledging to donate 1.5 per cent of annual profits to charitable causes, which amounted to £171,000.

Des Moore, Cumberland chief executive, said: "I’m proud and delighted that we have been able to help these good causes. We have found their work inspiring.

"We want to make a big difference in our community and that’s why we increased our charitable fund and created the multi-year awards, so we can have a longer lasting impact.

"We visited Susan’s Farm and heard first-hand what a positive impact it has for people who are in real need in our local communities.

"We also wanted to help highlight the issues around dementia, and supporting Dignity in Dementia will help to create dementia friendly communities across our region."

The new Cumberland Community Fund is managed for the building society by Cumbria Community Foundation. Chief executive Andy Beeforth said: "The Cumberland's generosity and commitment to our area has seen support go to a range of projects.

"Grassroots organisations have been hit particularly hard over the last few years due to the current economic climate, which has made it harder to secure funding; and yet these organisations are often the first and sometimes only point of support for individuals and communities trying to make a difference in their lives.

"Funding is available to tackle social problems such as poverty, unemployment and poor health, and build on opportunities where it will bring long-term change.

"The substantial, multi-year grants will further strengthen the organisations supported and make a positive difference for the communities they serve."