Arts and cultural leaders have spoken of the benefits that millions of pounds in National Lottery funding has brought to new projects in Sunderland.
The Lottery recently launched its online mini-series Untold Stories: Sunderland, which reveals how cash from the organisation is helping the people of Wearside.
As part of the series Apprentice star Katie Bulmer-Cooke and co-presenter Josh Wilkinson, from Barnes, visited the Foundation of Light’s Beacon of Light facility, arts programme The Cultural Spring, children’s charity Grace House and revamped performing arts hub The Fire Station.
In 2017 the National Lottery invested more than £15million into good causes in the Sunderland area, helping to enrich and impact upon thousands of lives.
Episodes in the series focus on each of the projects, and those who are part of them have spoken of the impact the money has had.
A total of £1.5million was given to the Beacon from the Lottery’s Sport England arm, which was spent on creating the facility’s indoor arena.
Since it opened its doors in September, tens of thousands of people have visited the site.
The Foundation of Light’s chief executive Lesley Spuhler said: “We’ve had 60,000 people through the door in the first few months of being open which is fantastic.
“We want to let people know that while we use sport as a way of engaging people and inspire generations to come.” Ms Spuhler said that the site is already providing results of how it is improving people’s lives.
“The Man vs Fat programme that we’ve been running for example has seen 60 people lost a collective 44 and a half stone,” she said.
“We’ve also had 400 children and their families in through half-term doing activities, which is wonderful to see.”
Elsewhere, the Fire Station project was handed £2.5million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to transform a decaying building into a cultural hub.
It now houses schemes such as Live Tales, a reading and writing project for Key Stage 2 children, and Dance City.
Paul Callaghan, of the MAC Trust, said: “The projects we have here help to give people the confidence to do things they would not normally do.
“And if we had not had the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we would not be where we are now.
“I’m very, very grateful for the money but also to the Heritage Lottery Find team for the support they have provided including from former Sunderland MP Chris Mullin.”
Untold Stories: Sunderland is available to view across the National Lottery’s social media channels.