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£2.3m up for grabs for Cumbrian social enterprises

L-R: Paula Brown, Investment Manager at First Ark Social Investment, a member of the Brathay Hall team and Heather Dixon, Finance Director at Brathay Hall.

Cumbrian social enterprises are being encouraged to apply for social investment, offered by a Merseyside-based funder, to help them become more sustainable and enhance their social impact.

First Ark Social Investment (FASI) works with social enterprises and charities across the North West and is especially keen to partner with organisations in Cumbria.

FASI recently received an extra £2.3m in funding from The Growth Fund, a partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund, Big Society Capital and Access – The Foundation for Social Investment. It is now able to offer more ‘blended’ finance, made up of grants and loans, to social enterprises across the North West, including Cumbria.

Léann Hearne, Group Chief Executive Officer at First Ark Group, said: “We’re looking to work with any social enterprises that promote social investment – from an organisation that upskills unemployed people, to a creative enterprise or sporting venture.

“Many organisations in Cumbria might not be aware of the funds and strategic support we offer. We’re here to help social enterprises grow, become more sustainable, increase their social value and make a real difference within their communities.

“We’re particularly keen to support organisations in the area and want to raise awareness of how FASI can help create additional social impact and develop financial sustainability.”

FASI has a history of supporting Cumbrian organisations and has worked with the Brathay Trust, a residential outdoor centre based in Ambleside, to update the Lakeside centre’s outdoor activity facilities.

Brathay Trust’s mission is to inspire young people, build confidence and improve life chances through physical and mental activities. FASI has supported them on pre-investment planning and developing forecasts for social impact and economic value.

Brathay Trust received a £99,000 investment which allowed for a rope course to be updated and funded improvements to nine bedrooms in Brathay Hall, providing modern accommodation for visitors. This in turn generated increased income, which financed three additional jobs at the centre.

To apply for funding from FASI please visit: https://firstarksocialinvestment.com/pre-eio/

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