From education to employment

Bridge Creative to support Leaders with Lived Experience with National Lottery Funding

bridge creative

Bridge Creative (@BridgeCreative2) based in Bishop Auckland is celebrating today after being awarded £46,114 in National Lottery funding to put people with lived experience in the lead to tackle unemployment among adults with learning disabilities in County Durham.

The new grant from the UK’s largest funder of community activity will see Bridge Creative launch its Experience & Opportunity Project, which will support young adults with learning disabilities and autism to dream big and reach their potential. The project will create innovative opportunities for people to become social entrepreneurs, company directors and positive influencers in their community, creating a new generation of leaders.

The project will also offer ongoing support for Bridge Creative’s two most recent directors, Dean Wyllie and Shaun Ridley. Both Dean and Shaun have a learning disability and will bring their lived experience to the board, ensuring that the organisation is led by the people it was set up to support.

Dean and Shaun have recently completed Inclusion North’s Bringing Change to the Board training, which took place via Zoom across 9 weeks, learning new skills and understanding the responsibilities of being a director of a company.

The funding will have a huge positive impact on Bridge Creative, enabling the organisation to continue supporting people to reach their potential for at least the next two years.

Managing Director, Ben Tinkler said:

“We’re very excited about this new project and the opportunities it will create for the young adults we support. People with lived experience understand exactly what is needed to access paid employment. In County Durham, there are very few employment options for people with a learning disability, so to be able to run a project like this, where people can become business owners and directors, it’s just going to be fantastic, and will hopefully inspire others too.”

The grant is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s Lived Experience Leaders programme, which is today announcing £2.5million of funding going to 49 projects across the UK. The National Lottery funding will support organisations to better embed experts by experience in all aspects of operations – including making it central to COVID-19 response, recovery and renewal – and enables the Fund and the wider sector to continue learning about how people with first-hand experience can become leaders, and how funders can support them.

Cassie Robinson, Senior Head of UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players, people with lived experience will use their unique expertise to lead social change and help their communities to thrive, which is vital in the response to – and looking ahead to the recovery from – COVID-19. We know that supporting those with first-hand experience to become leaders is a key enabler for civil society to do more, help more people, and for the sector to continue to make a positive impact.”

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