Over the past ten years, community groups across Eden and South Lakeland have benefited from more than a quarter of a million pounds thanks to the generosity of a locally owned family business.
Westmorland Limited, a second-generation family business, which started in 1972 when the Dunning Family opened Tebay Services in Cumbria, set up a charitable fund in 2010 so that people working for company could access funding for community projects, which they were personally involved in.
The fund is managed by Cumbria Community Foundation and in that time, the Westmorland Family Community Fund has awarded 47 charitable groups grants of between £250 and £24,536. Each year, the Foundation receives a variety of grant applications and is able to support organisations such as Growing Well and The Oaklea Trust.
Growing Well, near Kendal, received £14,000 to support its mental health activities at Low Sizergh Barn. The charity provides a safe, supportive working environment to nurture mental health recovery on two hectares of land. The on-farm Occupational Therapy team provide daily support to volunteers and run life skills courses on managing mental health and returning to work or education.
Growing Well Chief Executive, Mary Houston, said: “We are extremely grateful for Westmorland’s grant, which has helped 100 people recover from mental ill health over the past year – and crucially has helped us keep on growing through lockdown due to the closure of the site from March to June.
“Our volunteers are now back working on a farm abundant with summer produce, and it’s thanks to funders like Westmorland Ltd that we were able to maintain our farming operation through these difficult times and fulfil our commitment to our Crop Share customers, so they were able to receive their weekly bags of fresh, organic vegetables throughout lockdown.”
The Westmorland Family Community Fund helps projects which support older adults, children and young people, groups who manage village facilities and groups operating or providing services in the travel to work area for Westmorland Limited; especially the communities of Tebay, Orton, Shap, Penrith, Kirkby Stephen, Stainton and Appleby.
The Appleby Hub, run by The Oaklea Trust, can continue to offer a range of community activities thanks to a grant of £6,290 from the Westmorland Family Community Fund.
People affected with mental health issues, those with dementia, and young people will benefit as the funding contributed to three community projects: A Safe Place support group for those who are struggling with their mental health, My Smart Music for those with dementia and their carers, and a youth group for young people aged 11-18 years.
Sue Green said: “Cumbria Community Foundation and grants from its fund holders have been invaluable by enabling organisations like us to support other smaller organisations that lack the governance structures that are needed. Oaklea’s aim to support stronger communities has been enhanced by the Foundation’s support. Appleby Hub has experienced a significant hit due to the pandemic lockdown, but we are looking to rebuild and support people that have been affected.”
Ellen Clements, Senior Grants & Donor Services Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “We are proud to manage the funds for Westmorland Limited as they are vital in supporting some of our most rural communities. It gives community groups a real opportunity to improve the lives of people and places where they live.”