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National Lottery funds are vital for LRSN's future

The Lincolnshire Rural Support Network has been awarded a grant of £80,000 by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, from the Government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund. The fund was launched in April to support charities and social enterprises during the coronavirus pandemic.

Welcoming the grant, LRSN’s Health and Wellbeing Lead, Gilly Steel, said: “The coronavirus pandemic had an immediate effect on the rural community: people’s feelings of isolation increased, stress and anxiety levels rose and the physical and financial consequences of the enforced lockdown meant that our resources were called upon to a much greater extent that we could have anticipated. The funding from the National Lottery and the DCMS has arrived at a crucial time for our charity and will help LRSN to support good mental health for many more families in these difficult times.

“As soon as lockdown was imposed, our caseload increased significantly with many new service users coming to us with problems that were specific to the coronavirus pandemic. At one point in May, we had over 100 active cases, including 19 that were specifically related to coronavirus; this is an exceptional number for our small volunteer-led charity. We are finding that existing mental health problems are exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with many clients finding it much harder to cope and see a way through their problems.”

As well as the increase in casework, LRSN’s income streams have been badly impacted by the pandemic. Fundraising events have been cancelled and supporters have been limited in the activities they can undertake to generate much-needed funds for the charity.

"We can now concentrate on supporting the many farming and rural families in Lincolnshire who need our help and put the question of funding on the back burner for a few months"

Project Manager, Alison Twiddy added: “In common with every other organisation, our finances have been put under a great deal of strain this year. Since March, we have been unable to hold or benefit from many of our usual fundraising events so our income streams are severely affected. This much-needed grant from the National Lottery Community Fund and DCMS has arrived at just the right time for us and we can now concentrate on supporting the many farming and rural families in Lincolnshire who need our help and put the question of funding on the back burner for a few months. Thank you to the National Lottery and the Government for providing this vital funding for LRSN.”

At the start of lockdown in March, LRSN suspended its healthcare clinics and outreach services at Louth livestock market and Spalding horticultural auction. Face-to-face visits to service users were also put on hold except for those in most urgent need. The opening hours of LRSN’s helpline, manned by volunteers, were increased from 8am to 6pm to 8am to 8pm and the charity’s website was restructured and updated to allow new ways of communicating during the pandemic. Counselling and support services for clients were revised, with virtual sessions using video calling platforms taking the place of most home visits.

The funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, will continue LRSN’s work to support good mental health in Lincolnshire’s rural and farming communities for the next six months.