National Lottery Community Fund: Swarthmore Education Centre says £200,000 grant will 'make a big difference'

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A Leeds education centre has said that winning more than £200,000 in National Lottery funding will allow it to “make a big difference to people’s lives”.

The Swarthmore Education Centre said the funds would go towards an arts-based programme in areas of the city that are affected by poverty and social exclusion, with its director saying she was delighted to be able to run a project in the place where she was raised. Based in the city centre, the organisation promotes lifelong learning through community projects, courses and activities.

The £200,162 awarded by The National Lottery Community Fund will go towards running a two-year project named Creative Communities. It aims to provide an arts-based programme for adults and will fund an artist to lead the sessions. All materials, lunch and a creche worker will also provided. There will be three six-week programmes annually in each chosen area, with the sessions delivered in community spaces that are well known and easy to access.

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Christine Baillie, director of Swarthmore Education Centre, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this grant means that we can engage with some of the hardest to reach members of the community in Leeds, offering access to arts based learning, which is often inaccessible due to the cost and location.

Swarthmore Education Centre, in the city centre, has just received £200,162 in funding from the National Lottery. Pictured is Christine Baillie, second left, with an award for Community Development at the Educate North Awards in Manchester for their Art at the Heart project, which supported Ukrainian refugees. Photo: ER PHOTOGRAPHYSwarthmore Education Centre, in the city centre, has just received £200,162 in funding from the National Lottery. Pictured is Christine Baillie, second left, with an award for Community Development at the Educate North Awards in Manchester for their Art at the Heart project, which supported Ukrainian refugees. Photo: ER PHOTOGRAPHY
Swarthmore Education Centre, in the city centre, has just received £200,162 in funding from the National Lottery. Pictured is Christine Baillie, second left, with an award for Community Development at the Educate North Awards in Manchester for their Art at the Heart project, which supported Ukrainian refugees. Photo: ER PHOTOGRAPHY

"Our target areas are Middleton, Belle Isle, Holbeck and Hunslet, and we are really excited to be able to engage with people who may be new to Swarthmore through our Creative Communities project. As I was brought up in the area, I am delighted to be able to seek out the talents in the communities and promote a sense of pride in what we can achieve. This will make a big difference to people’s lives.”

There will be an exhibition of the work produced within each community and Swarthmore Education Centre will also be working with volunteers to develop skills needed to move towards further training and employment. Recruitment will begin at local events, with the first session due to be held in September. More information about the project can be found on the Swarthmore Education Centre’s social media channels.

The National Lottery Community Fund issues a share of its funds to projects to support people and communities. In 2020, it distributed almost £1bn to charities and community organisations across the UK.