Sunderland Art Studio celebrates £250,000 lottery funding

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ART Studio bosses are celebrating after securing £250,000 towards expanding their work.

The money comes from The Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities grant and will be given to the charity over three years, from Saturday.

Artists at the Art Studio, Lombard Street, Hendon, left to right; Paul Fitch, Michael Hodgson with his glass painting inspired by the Rose Window at Durham Cathedral, Sue Sweeney, Cath Warwick, Josephine Sowray, Danielle Lamb, Barry Hill and studio manager Barney Craggs.

Artists at the Art Studio, Lombard Street, Hendon, left to right; Paul Fitch, Michael Hodgson with his glass painting inspired by the Rose Window at Durham Cathedral, Sue Sweeney, Cath Warwick, Josephine Sowray, Danielle Lamb, Barry Hill and studio manager Barney Craggs.

The Art Studio, based in Lombard Street, Hendon, provides art therapy for people suffering with mental health issues.

The grant is the biggest single amount for the charity – which used to be based in High Street– has received.

Barnaby Craggs, studio manager, said it will be used to develop more workshops, and reach more people who need help.

“We are working with between 20 and 30 members now and are looking to expand that,” he said.

“This money from The Big Lottery Fund means we can move forward, and we are very grateful for that.

“We are hoping to put on more workshops, bring in more artists and develop projects.”

The Art Studio has been running for 26 years and is seen as a vital service to its members. Sue Sweeney, 58, suffers severe depression and has been visiting The Art Studio for five years.

She said that now the charity can help more people is fantastic.

“It’s great,” she said. “You get such a level of emotional support from people here because everyone understands what you are going through.

“So the fact that more people can now have that is great.”

Sue, of Hendon, said the charity has given her a whole new life.

“Before I came here, I just stayed in the house really, and I was really depressed,” she said.

“It’s been a lifeline, and without it I honestly don’t know if I would still be here.”

Tessa Wiley, spokesman for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to make huge awards to make a real difference to people’s lives.

“These projects will not only benefit the individuals, but people in general by enabling disabled people to play a more active role within the community.

“All of the projects we have funded will help some of the most vulnerable people in our region.”