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Vital funding supports East Lothian community group

New Beginnings Club logo

Covid-19 restrictions are still having an impact on local community groups, and one of those is the member driven organisation, New Beginnings Club in East Lothian.

The club offers fun activities, friendship and adventure to people with disabilities across the region, but has been badly impacted by the pandemic.

The restrictions have meant outings and meetings for members have been cancelled or postponed since mid-March, leaving members disappointed and many unable to grasp the sudden changes; often requiring extra reassurance to help them understand.

This goes against the club’s goal of tackling isolation and loneliness to disable adults and older members of the population by helping them be active in the community. This can have a serious impact on their mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Now, thanks to a grant from Community Windpower and BeGreen Dunbar’s joint £255,000 Covid-19 crisis fund, club members will be able to spend more time together outside.

The £2,500 donation will enable the club’s Getting Out, Getting Active project to start, with an initial focus on the club’s allotments in Tranent, which brings great fulfilment to all those who enjoy being outdoors, creating a productive vegetable and fruit garden from scratch.

Members enjoy being able to share their produce, donating some of the fruits of their labour with a local food bank and the Community Kitchen in Haddington.

But in order to meet the needs of the more physically disabled members, especially those with mobility issues, the club needs to make the allotments a more user-friendly place for them to attend.

This means levelling out the grounds and making paving areas, providing raised beds for members to work at and creating an area with solid seating where the members can be given shelter from the inclement weather.

The money will also be used to replace the existing greenhouse, which has sadly been damaged beyond repair.

In addition ,the project is looking to purchase pop-up gazebos and folding chairs, to allow members to meet up in open areas; this follows the cancellation of recent planned trips to local parks.

Diane Wood, community benefits director at Community Windpower, which operates the Aikengall Community Wind Farms in East Lothian, said: “The New Beginnings Club provides a brilliant support mechanism to members of the local community who need it most.

“At times like these we need to support local community organisations, particularly those that are helping and protecting vulnerable members of our society who are caring for others and experiencing periods of loneliness.

“With most members having learning difficulties, the club focuses on self-determination and actively pursue activities around healthy living, self-development and creating new skills and abilities.

“This is especially important during the current pandemic, getting people outdoors and active while keeping them safe and helping them to keep a healthy mind.

“We know the £2,500 we’ve provided to is going to make a difference right where it’s needed.”

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