Voting open for charity’s TV bid

VOTING lines are now open to help a Morpeth charity win a TV funding battle.

Castle Morpeth Disability Association (CMDA) has made it through to the final of the Jubilee People’s Millions contest to win funding for a free handyman and gardening service for elderly, disabled and vulnerable residents.

But to secure the £60,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, the organisation must fight for votes from the public by pitching its project on ITV Tyne Tees evening regional news this evening.

The telephone voting line for the charity is open all day today. To vote for its project call 0871 626 8891.

Six schemes from the north east have been shortlisted, with two each night competing against each other for votes. Grants will be awarded to each of the winners, as well as the runner-up with the most votes.

The Morpeth bid will be up against the Survivors of Domestic Abuse project in Redcar.

CMDA Project Development Officer Sara Parker said: “We ran a pilot handyman scheme last year for things such as changing light bulbs and putting up shelves, and it was really successful, but we didn’t have the money to keep it going.

“When we had the handyman a lot of people were asking for help with gardens so when we decided to try to recreate the service we thought we would expand it to provide an all-round service for the community.

“The grant will pay for two full-time employees, a handyman and gardener, but we also want to recruit ten volunteers, aged 16 to 24 who aren’t employed and have no qualifications. They will work alongside the staff and we will put them through a relevant NVQ to give them the qualifications they need for employment.

“The grant would pay for their expenses, equipment, a lease van and insurance. There would also be a part-time admin assistant.”

The TV appeal features a Stobhill resident who can’t look after her garden since the death of her husband. She paid rogue traders £200 to clear it, but they made a bigger mess so now she keeps her curtains closed to avoid looking at it.

The grants have been launched to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and have the approval of Buckingham Palace. All projects will run in 2012, the jubilee year.

Big Lottery Fund’s Head of the North East James Turner said: “This year we’re delighted to be awarding these grants to help mark the 60 years of the Queen’s reign.

“What will make it particularly special is that the public will be able to choose which projects win awards with the Royal Jubilee accolade.

“2012 will be a special year for many reasons, but £60,000 could make it even more amazing for 60 local communities across the UK. I encourage everyone to tune into ITV Tyne Tees and vote for your favourite project — every vote counts.”