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Mental health through sport and intensive care among causes supported by first community grants of 2022

ach quarter, the Trustees of Ardonagh Community Trust (ACT) receive applications for the Community Grant programme from colleagues across The Ardonagh Group for up to £5,000 (or equivalent local currency) towards a project or charity close to their hearts and connected to their local community.

In this first quarter of 2022, a fantastic variety of causes were nominated by colleagues and together our ACT Trustees selected six incredibly deserving projects to receive funding.

Read the stories behind each of the projects being supported and why our colleagues have nominated them – plus how you too can apply, with applications now open for the second quarterly Community Grant programme of the year.

The Intensive Care Society

Nominated by Ian Barclay from Geo Underwriting

It goes without saying that we all owe a huge amount to our health services around the world who gave their all to support those in need during the pandemic and who continue to do so. The Intensive Care Society supports all those working in the profession across the UK, and they’re marking this year’s Intensive Care Week in over 270 hospitals across the country. Since the pandemic, many intensive care staff have unfortunately left the profession, so the week will play an important role in giving back to and celebrating staff, as well as to encourage those early on in their career journeys to consider intensive care as a specialty.

The £5000 grant will fund various aspects of the society’s plans including materials to go up in units to create a sense of celebration and resources for teams to use so that as many people as possible can participate in the week.

My sister-in-law has been on the front line, as a Consultant in the COVID Intensive Care Unit at Blackburn Hospital, throughout the pandemic. Over the last two years, both she and her colleagues have faced extreme physical and emotional challenges, including making life and death decisions, and enduring extremely challenging working conditions. She has gone above and beyond, and this year will be completing a ski trekking challenge to raise money for the Intensive Care Society and Doctors in Distress. I myself am taking part in a 220km bike race on 25 June in the Pyrenean mountains to raise money for the charity too. Intensive Care Week will occur for many years to come and will continue to raise awareness about what it’s like to work, or be a patient, in intensive care. Its intended legacy is one of increased interest in intensive care as profession, and greater public knowledge about what it takes to care for the country’s sickest patients.
Ian Barclay, Geo Agriculture

Kick Start FC

Nominated by Michael Cunningham from Be Wiser

Created with the purpose to ‘Tackle the mind’, Kick Start FC is a mental health support group established by Michael himself in Wiltshire to help men and the women with their mental health through the medium of sport.

The free football sessions offer an outlet for mental health as well as a supportive and inclusive community where people can take things of their mind, develop a positive and confident mindset, and share experiences without judgement. Every week over 100 people benefit – mind and body – by taking to the pitch, as well as taking part off it through activities including walking groups and social events.

The £5000 grant from ACT will help Michael expand on the success of Kick Start FC further to create sessions for teenagers aged 13-17 so that young people in the local community can likewise benefit – caring for their own mental health and feeling part of supportive network. The money will also go towards opening a Social Hub which will be used to provide a safe space for teenagers to talk and provide workshops and educational tools to create a better understanding of mental health.

I created Kick Start FC two years ago due to my own person experiences of mental health as well as family and friends. Mental health is a very important subject and whilst more people are opening up and talking about it there is a still long way to go to eradicate the stigma that attaches itself to the subject. Everything we have done so far has been through self-funding via quiz nights, raffles and football cards. The grant is going to help us help so many people and effectively save lives.
Michael Cunningham, Be Wiser
Football focused mental health charity Kick Start FC team pictured with their team flag

Leeds Hospitals Charity

Nominated by Emma Scott from Towergate

The Leeds West One office chose Leeds Cancer Centre, part of Leeds Hospitals Charity, as their charity to support throughout 2022 and Emma is the charity’s contact for the office.

Leeds Hospitals Charity supports eight hospitals across the Leeds, helping them go above and beyond by providing funding for anything from specialised research nurses to touches like reclining chairs so that loved ones can stay the night with their sick children.
The £5000 grant from ACT will fund a new ultrasound scanning machine, which will be used to detect the recurrence of skin cancer. By having the machine, patients will no longer have a separate appointment for diagnosis, meaning anxious waiting time will be cut and, if required, treatment can be provided more quickly.

I work closely with the charity as contact for the West One office, and we’ll fundraise throughout this year – we’ve just raised over £170 in our Valentine’s Day raffle and have plans for more events to come. The charity is close to my heart as they treated my aunt who had a rare type of spinal cord cancer. With their help she was able to fight for four years – it was four years we could make memories and she was able to see her son go to university. More recently they are currently treating a family friend who has a terminal brain tumour. If it had not been for the speedy treatment, he would have only survived 3-4 months. I understand that to be able to provide potentially life-saving diagnosis or treatment within a single appointment is immeasurable. Not only to the individuals suffering themselves, but their family and loved ones. The ultrasound service will help ease the stress they face at this time of agony and distress and help curb the fear and anxiety which is so prevalent when waiting in between assessment and treatment. We never know if we or our family will be in need of treatment such as this, and the knowledge that this service could be available and vastly improve the already high level of care provided by the Leeds Cancer Centre is a small comfort.
Emma Scott, Towergate
Volunteer from Leeds Hospital's Charity pictured with medical staff

Cycling Sheffield Youth Cycling Project

Nominated by Gary Bennett from Lutine

Gary came to know Cycling Sheffield taking part in the Lutine Ride4Life team, when they used the Doncaster Cycle Track to prepare for the 2021 Ride4Life from Doncaster to London.

Cycling Sheffield supports young racing cyclists to develop and provides opportunities to race professionally. As well as their elite program, Cycling Sheffield also runs several community initiatives to get more people in the Sheffield region involved in cycling.
The £2345 grant from ACT will help Cycling Sheffield deliver their youth cycling project. Aimed at 5–16-year-olds, the project helps young riders get on a bike for the first time to teaching race skills to older riders. The project began last year, and within a few weeks more than 60 boys and girls joined sessions. The money will buy equipment to run their coaching sessions and to teach young people how to look after and maintain their bikes.

It was such fantastic news to hear that ACT were able to support my nomination for Cycling Sheffield. The grant will help them develop their facilities for the kids in Sheffield, as part of the weekly sessions set up to support the local community during lockdown. The benefits of cycling are well documented, and it is wonderful to help Dave and his team grow the bike handling and maintenance skills of the members in a safe environment. I look forward to seeing the next generation of pro cyclists coming out of Yorkshire soon!
Gary Bennett, Lutine

Sickle Cell Care Manchester

Nominated by Leeroy Dewah from Swinton

Sickle Cell Care Manchester has been chosen by the ‘Our Origins’ D&I group, which Leroy is an active member of, as their chosen cause. Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition that affects red blood cells and can be extremely painful and cause organ damage. Although sickle cell disease is found across populations, the risk is much higher in people of Africa and Caribbean origin.

The charity works with people in the community to raise awareness of the disease, and with people affect to provide support. Many of charity’s face-to-face services are now beginning to resume but need to be adapted as those with the disease are vulnerable to Covid. The £5000 grant from ACT will go towards these vital services – funding 66 home medical visits or mentoring sessions, or 38 group training sessions.

I am so delighted that the Trustees have awarded Sickle Cell Care Manchester with an ACT Community Grant. This means a lot to me, as myself and other members of Atlanta’s Our Origins community were touched by this charity’s dedication to supporting people living with sickle cell disease. I really appreciate Ardonagh making a positive contribution to a local community charity doing such amazing work. The recent economic strain after the pandemic meant private funding for the charity reduced significantly so this donation will go a long way to covering the cost of vital services and providing lifesaving support.
Leeroy Dewah, Swinton

The Cannabis Industry Council

Nominated by Richard Cupit from Towergate

The Cannabis Industry Council champions the uses of cannabis and hemp for medicinal purposes and aims to increase patient access for people living with a range of conditions – from chronic pain to epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Although cannabis was legalised in the UK three years ago, access to treatments varies hugely. The council seeks to change this by influencing policy makers, working with medical institutions to improve access to treatment, improving guidelines and publishing research.

The £5000 grant from ACT will be used to fund a health economic research study with the aim of demonstrating that cannabis medication provides both strong medical and economical outcomes for patients and the health services that care for them. The study will initially focus on chronic pain, with the potential to expand the research to further conditions and aims to ultimately make treatment available to more people that could benefit from it.

I am absolutely thrilled we are able to support the fantastic work that Mike, Elisabetta and the team are doing with the Cannabis Council to help improve patient access to the hugely important medicinal cannabis medicine. I’m proud to be associated with them and of the amazing work they do. They are funded by member contributions, which means that operating costs are very tight, this money will help the lives of many suffering patients and it makes me proud to work for Ardonagh (Towergate); who are such a supportive organisation too!
Richard Cupit, Towergate