Blyth charity nets £60k from National Lottery to help in recovery from pandemic

A charity supporting disabled people across Northumberland recover from the pandemic has received a vital funding boost.

By David Sedgwick
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 8:00 am
Paula McLain who feels supported by Headway Arts to achieve her ambitions.
Paula McLain who feels supported by Headway Arts to achieve her ambitions.

Headway Arts, Blyth’s Arts & Cultural Centre, has received £60,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Since 1995, Headway Arts have supported people of all ages to contribute to the cultural life of their communities.

Its three-year Reaching Out programme aims to address the loss of skills and confidence and declining mental health that many disabled people and those with learning difficulties have experienced during lockdowns, due to loneliness and isolation.

During the height of the Covid-19 crisis, Headway Arts supported members by making arts-based therapy workshops available online to new and existing members, many of whom are clinically vulnerable and were shielding.

Now, thanks to the funding, the charity can expand the reach of its positive work to more disabled people across Northumberland – particularly those living in rural, isolated areas of the county.

Paula McLain, a learning disabled choreographer and dance artist who feels supported by the charity to achieve her ambitions, said: “I want to meet new people and feel happy, to run workshops, have more confidence… to show people in the community what I can do – do professional work and teach others.”

Allie Walton-Robson, creative director at Headway Arts, said: “This is wonderful news for our community as throughout lockdown, Headway Arts has strived to offer support.

"Thanks to National Lottery players, we will now be able to help rebuild the confidence of very clinically vulnerable people through this new programme of creativity.

“During the pandemic learning disabled people have been hit extra hard and many have described our work as a lifeline.

"It’s vital for human beings to keep connected, to express ourselves, to be heard and not forgotten. Headway Arts are ready to reach out with creativity and warmth.”

Duncan Nicholson, head of funding for the North East and Cumbria Region at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We are proud to support Headway Art’s positive work, helping to empower those with learning disabilities so they can rebuild the skills and self-confidence they lost during the pandemic.

“We applaud the volunteers and groups, like Headway Arts, that have been a lifeline to so many and will now play a key role in supporting their communities to build back, prosper and thrive.”