£50,000 donated by Ardonagh Community Trust to causes put forward by colleagues
Each quarter, the Trustees of Ardonagh Community Trust (ACT), the registered charity of The Ardonagh Group, receive applications from colleagues across the Group for the community grant programme to fund charitable projects.
Throughout 2021, the Trustees reviewed and approved a brilliant variety of causes put forward by colleagues and in the final quarter of the year, seven more incredibly deserving charities were awarded a total of over £30,000 to put towards projects that will make a difference to the communities they serve.
Find out more about each of the charities and hear from some of the colleagues about their connection and why they nominated them.
The Down Syndrome Centre
Submitted by Trish Callanan from Arachas
The Down Syndrome Centre, Dublin, Ireland was opened in 2014 with a mission to provide services and facilities for children with Down Syndrome and their families, and provides a place for families to meet, receive support, access therapy services, and build support networks. The centre believes that children with Down Syndrome should have the same opportunities as their peers and feel included in society, and their ethos reflect ACT’s own to create a brighter future.
The community grant will be used to enable the centre to continue providing these essential services which are otherwise not widely available in Ireland. As a charity they charge a nominal fee of €25 for most of their services to support running costs, and then subsidise the rest. The €3,000 provided by ACT will help another 120 families make the most of their excellent service for free.
Helping Angels Charitable Association
Submitted by Samantha Litherland from Atlanta
Helping Angels Charitable Association supports the needs of adults and children with disabilities and complex needs in Stoke-on-Trent and wider Staffordshire in the UK by providing opportunities to explore activities to promote independence and develop skills to help them to live a happier more independent life, ranging from; cooking, to maintaining a home, and travel.
The next phase of the charity’s development is to open a café in the local park to allow people to gain work experience and earn a small income, as well as to generate funds that will go back into the charity. The £5,000 awarded by ACT will be used to prepare the space for renovation, to buy furniture, and to decorate so that the café can be the welcoming space it deserves to be – for both the people it supports and the visitors from the local community who will use it during their trips to the park.
Submitted by Kelly-Ann Knight, Ardonagh Group
Based in Chichester in the UK, BrightRide is a non-profit social enterprise that aims to help residents who are less able to get onto two wheels get out on to bikes – helping them to benefit not just from cycling’s physical benefits, but to combat loneliness and promote connection with nature. The organisation has special ‘trishaw’ rides to enable elderly and less mobile residents to enjoy the great outdoors, explore the local area, and meet people for a chat.
Having started in 2021, BrightRide has a ‘pay what you can’ approach which allows them to cover costs of those who can’t afford but would benefit from the experience. The £3,000 grant from ACT will be used to help the team of volunteers are looking to increase the number of rides they can do each day by enabling them to purchase a new battery for the trishaw to reduce time between recharging, meaning even more residents will be able to enjoy getting out and about.
Kelly-Ann explained why she was supporting BrightRide. “Rich, the founder, is a close friend of mine who has been a keen cyclist for all of his life. He advocates for the benefits that cycling can have for our physical and mental health and the passion that he has for this is infectious. Many people have trouble experiencing this level of freedom and through his research and talking to others, Rich found that this can be a really valuable way to support those who are isolated. The fact that a trishaw is used means physical ability isn’t required and riders can benefit from the fresh air, exhilaration and wonders of the countryside which can in turn help them mentally.”
Submitted Veronica Marshall, Towergate Insurance Brokers
Foyle Hospice in Derry, Northern Ireland, was established over 35 years ago when Dr. Tom McGinley attended a young male patient who was dying of cancer at home with no access to palliative care. This led him to begin fundraising, eventually fulfilling his vision to provide care for the dying – beginning with a home care team, and which evolved into a hospice and later saw the addition of a Day Care Centre. With over 80 dedicated staff and 500 volunteers, the hospice provides free services to all the patients and families it supports.
Foyle Hospice is only 30% Government Funded and requires over £3 million to run per year, which has been particularly challenging during the pandemic, when more people that ever have needed to use their services, in particular the bereavement support which the hospice provides counsellors and facilitators for. The £4,990 community grant from ACT will fund 192 hours of Healing Hearts counselling for grieving children and teens aged between 4 and 16 years from the counties of Derry and Tyrone who have been directly affected by the impact of cancer in their families.
Action Cancer NI
Submitted by Lisa Hurst, Dawson Whyte
Action Cancer is one of Northern Ireland’s leading, local cancer charities which aims to save lives and support local people through cancer awareness, prevention, detection and support. As part of their screening programme, they have the ‘Big Bus’ a bespoke mobile unit and helps women aged 40-49 and 70+ have screening at a convenient location and without having to go into a medical setting. The service also provides aftercare for people who have been diagnosed with cancer, inclusive of the wider family circle, offering counselling, as well as holistic therapies.
The cost of one screening is £80, meaning that the £4,800 grant from ACT will enable 60 screenings to be completed, potentially meaning the early detection, and prevention, of this disease in even more women from across Northern Ireland.
Lisa described why Action Cancer NI mattered to her and her connection to it. “This is a free screening service for women in NI and is very close to my heart. My sister went for a routine screening and its advanced technology detected her cancer and saved her life, as it was already Stage 4 and she had experienced no symptoms. This is a service that is saving countless lives through early detection. I regularly volunteer for the charity at events, but their fundraising efforts have been severely affected by the pandemic. There is no other service like it in the UK and we are so lucky to have it.”
James Support Group
Submitted by Gareth Vaughan, Towergate Insurance Brokers
In Inverness, Scotland, in 2017 a local dad James Mullery, aged 28, took his own life. He left behind his wife, three young children, as well as his parents and many friends. His family found it very difficult to find the support they needed to cope with such a loss and over the next three years worked to develop the James Support Group, which provides monthly support groups and operates a 24/7 helpline to help those struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one through suicide. To reach as many people across the Scottish Highlands as possible, the charity runs a bus service so that they can bring their resources and support to even the most rural places in the region. Isolation is closely connected to mental health and can make it more difficult to reach out for help, so this service is vital.
The charity is expanding its services across the Highlands to offer more local visits, and the £5,000 from ACT will be used to cover the cost of advertising and fuel for the bus for an entire year so that even more people can get the support for grief they need.
Seren’s Wish Toy Appeal
Submitted by Leila Jackson, Ardonagh Group
A very seasonal application came to support Seren's Wish Toy Appeal, based in Cheltenham in the UK. In its third year, the appeal was first conceived by Seren (then aged 7) after she watched a programme that documented how not all children are lucky enough to get presents at Christmas. Inspired by Seren’s wish to make Christmas special for less fortunate children, mum Bethan started buying a monthly gift to give away at the end of the year. Following local press coverage, the project quickly grew, and soon hundreds of referrals came from local schools, social workers, and healthcare providers nominating children to receive a gift.
Each individual referral consists of a unique list of gifts lifted from a child's actual letter to Father Christmas, which Seren's Wish uses to create a 'Santa Sack' to the approximate value of £50 – as well as a wrapped bar of chocolate, so that the child also has something to gift their parent or carer. Seren's Wish fundraises throughout the year to be able to provide 250 Santa Sacks for children in need. The £5,000 provided by ACT will mean Seren's Wish can support even more children in 2021, by enabling an additional 100 Santa sacks to children in the local community, to bring some extra special joy at the end of the year.
Leila said, “I became aware of Seren's Wish via my daughter Lilac's school, and I reached out to see how I could help. The charity I set up to support my daughters’ journey with cerebral palsy, Lilac's Little Legs, has benefitted hugely from the local community, and I saw this as an opportunity to try and give something back. In particular, after volunteering in the nearby Sixth Form college, I saw first-hand how real the poverty is in our area, which was something I hadn’t appreciated before. I’ll be supporting Bethan to wrap and deliver the Santa Sacks, and will also continue to support Seren’s Wish with their social media to raise awareness of the charity.”
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