An arts charity has vowed to continue to make a major difference across Wearside after being awarded a £350,000 grant.
The Art Studio Sunderland, based in Lombard Street, Hendon, has been handed the sum by the Big Lottery Fund.
We use art as a therapy, and it definitely worksBarney Craggs
The studio provides a free service for those suffering from mental health problems, and is set to celebrate its 30th birthday later this year.
All of its members are referred there by medical professionals, and at the studio, they are given access to a range of activities, including pottery, print-making, painting and film-making.
According to its manager, Barney Craggs, the studio aims to “use art as a therapy”.
He said: “This grant is a massive help for us.
“It basically means that we’re going to be able to continue for the next three years.
“They have seen the value of what we’re doing and decided to support us.
“The fact that we can be here for another three years is massive for our members, who all have a mental health illness.
“We use art as a therapy, and it definitely works.”
Three years ago, the studio received a £250,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
Back then, it had 26 members, whereas today, that figure is between 70 and 80.
Each member is able to spend two full days at the studio, which they can spread over the course of a week if they wish.
They are given access to a wide range of activities, while the studio often takes part in exhibitions.
The continued lottery funding has provided it with a major boost.
Mr Craggs added: “In the current climate, small organisations like ourselves are funding it difficult to secure funding.
“We weren’t that hopeful of receiving it this time, because of the amount of competition for funding.
“However, we were absolutely delighted to find out that they were continuing their support.
“It just allows us to continue to provide professional artists to come in and work with our members, and ensures we can keep such a valuable service in Sunderland.
“We celebrate our 30th birthday this year, which for a small charity is a big deal, and we’re delighted that we’re able to continue.”