TWO valued community projects are celebrating a £5,000 cash boost after coming top in a funding vote.
The Toby Henderson Trust Centre for Autism and Morpeth Division Girl Guides will each receive the sum courtesy of the Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund.
The organisations came first and second in a public vote for local causes that people wanted to receive the money.
The Toby Henderson Trust was set up in 2001 by mum Lesley Henderson after she struggled to find support for her autistic son Toby.
Now 18, he is just one of hundreds of young people to have received one-to-one support at the centre, which works with an average of 11 children each day, covering a range of conditions across the autism spectrum, including ADHD, epilepsy and dyslexia.
The new funding will enable the charity to offer 11 more children the opportunity to take part in sessions each week.
Mrs Henderson said: “There’s certainly a lot more help out there now, but still not enough and we pride ourselves on offering a very practical service for the whole family, not just the children or young adults.
“I think that is very important because if the family are in a better place, the child will be in a better place.
“One family recently called us the fourth emergency service for autism and our parents are very supportive, which is probably why we were awarded this £5,000.
“We do feel that we have the potential to change people’s lives and this is the sort of sum that will make a massive difference to us.
“We do have the physical capacity to look after more children, but we don’t have the money and that’s why this money will get more children support who desperately need it.”
Morpeth Girl Guides will use its funding to help send 50 members to Settle in North Yorkshire next July for the international Giggles 2013 event.
The scheme will see youngsters from across the globe come together for a host of activities, including kayaking, bushcraft, archery, day trips and the Three Peaks Challenge.
Division Commissioner Elaine Callaghan said: “The things the girls do now in Guides set them up for life — it’s not academic, it’s fun and it gives them skills for life.
“Some girls develop so much where they don’t have the peer pressure of having boys around and they can be themselves.
“Because of where we are it sometimes feels like the end of the world if we want to travel anywhere and transport is a big expense. This money will pay for a coach and makes it possible for some girls who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go.
“We may not see a difference in these girls in the next week, but in the years to come their confidence and the friendships they make will be a springboard for them making their way in the world.”
She added: “The support from Lloyds makes a significant difference to us. It is fantastic people still recognise that Guides are still here and appreciate what we do.”
More than 200,000 people across the UK took part in a public vote online and at Olympic Torch Relay events to select charities to receive a share of £660,000.
Lloyds Banking Group Community and Sustainable Business Director Paul Turner said: “Becoming the best bank for customers means being the best bank for our communities. The group has 30 million customers and has a clear role to play in society, helping communities thrive.
“The Community Fund highlights the group’s ongoing commitment to the communities we serve and doing more to help Britain prosper.”
Lloyds Banking Group, the largest financial services investor in UK communities, has provided funding to 132 organisations around the UK through its Community Fund in 2012. For details of its community investment visit www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/community