Big Lottery Fund 'lifeline' for Essex disability charity

A social inclusion project for people with learning disabilities in Essex has secured £296,000 in National Lottery funding to enable it to continue.

The "Can Do Project", run by the BATIAS Independent Advocacy Service, provides advice, support and activities for people in south and west Essex.

Without the three-year extension in Big Lottery Funding (BLF), the scheme would have closed at the end of January.

BATIAS chief executive Carole Cecil described the money as "a lifeline".

The project, which was set up five years ago with help from an initial BLF grant, is used by between 80 and 100 people.

It covers areas including Brentwood, Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Wickford, Southend and Thurrock.

'Give people confidence'

Mrs Cecil said it was designed to allow people with learning difficulties and physical impairments to achieve "greater levels of social inclusion".

The new grant will be used to continue and expand its existing community group, friendship and dating service and sports group that make up the project.

She said: "It's about enabling people to do what you or I would wish to do, but very many people who have learning disabilities can find quite difficult to do."

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