A lifeline Fenland charity has been crowned the people’s choice after winning a public vote delivered nearly £45,000 of Big Lottery funding.
Fenland Area Community Transport (FACT) has scooped £44,830 after being named a winner in the nationwide People’s Project competition.
Through the initiative, the public got to decide how Lottery cash could make a difference in their local community.
Hundreds of organisations applied to enter the project – run by The National Lottery and ITV – with 95 being shortlisted for a television vote.
Five organisations in each of the TV channel’s 19 regions competed for public votes and a share of a £3 million cash pot.
The three projects which received the most votes were in the running to win up to £50,000 each.
FACT – one of the Anglia West television region winners – already provides a crucial lifeline service to more than 1,400 people across Fenland from its base in Martin Avenue, March.
Its dial-a-ride service helps those who have difficulties using conventional modes of transport – such as the elderly and disabled – and it also runs a successful befriending and social club. Now, thanks to the People’s Project windfall, FACT can fulfil a dream project to expand its befriending and social club and meet growing demand.
FACT manager Jo Philpott said: “The People’s Project has been an amazing journey.
“From filling in the first application form, to being selected from hundreds of organisations to the shortlist, to being filmed and appearing on ITV, to then winning.”
FACT can now look forward to extending its regular activities for the vulnerable and isolated.
Mrs Philpott continued: “Our existing befriending and social club has enjoyed weekly bingo sessions, guest speakers and day trips.
“We have a waiting list of Fenland people who would like to attend, and this funding will enable that to happen.”
The club will now expand to run on more days in the week, enabling new and existing members to receive the benefits.
Mrs Philpott said the club helps attendees feel less isolated. They can also share problems, and people’s confidence and mental and physical well-being improve.
“Members who are older and vulnerable people can sometimes spend days alone and look forward to being collected by the FACT door-to-door transport service to ensure members can access the clubs.”
Anyone wanting to join FACT and attend the club can contact the charity on 01354 661234.