A REFUGEE from Guinea who has found his happy place in a community garden and an organisation which brings people with disabilities together are amongst the project to benefit from thousands of pounds of new funding.

About £1.5m of National Lottery funding has been awarded to dozens of projects across County Durham and Teesside.

Middlesbrough Environment City’s ‘Sustainable Community Actions’ is one of the projects involved, receiving £190,000. The funding is for a project designed to encourage people to grow their own food, consume energy efficiently, and to cycle and play outdoors.

Ibrahim, who moved from Guinea, West Africa, to England six years ago, tends to a community garden in Albert Park through Middlesbrough Environment City.

He said: “We think about the garden as a place for integration, because we all want to know more about the local community so there is no fear or intimidation.

“There are lots of different people who use the garden, like refugees and asylum seekers, university students, and people with learning disabilities. We all mix here, it’s like one big family.

“The garden is a way of improving your mental health. Many of us have had terrible journeys to get here; it’s a chance to set down and live peacefully and be free of fear.”

Julia Rostron, chair of Middlesbrough Environment City, said: “Middlesbrough Environment City are delighted that Middlesbrough has been awarded this funding from the National Lottery Community Fund. This project creates a fantastic opportunity to engage our local communities with sustainable living.

“Middlesbrough is home to very proud and resilient people and is very much ‘on the up’. Thanks to National Lottery players, this funding will provide communities the chance to initiate and take ownership of local projects and make decisions about their own future.”

The Northern Echo:

Difference North East in Durham has received £73,000 for a project designed to protect and promote the rights of disabled people in the region.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a patron of the organisation, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this is great news for disability rights in the region and a first for the North East. The reality is that disabled people are facing huge challenges in their day-to-day lives and support in this area is vital to help people here in the North East.”

Additionally, Consett Churches Detached Youth Project will also receive nearly £225,000, and Little Sprouts Health & Wellbeing in Stockton will also receive more than £150,000.

The Northern Echo:

The money, raised by players for good causes, is being distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK

Duncan Nicholson, head of funding for North East & Cumbria region at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “This money raised by National Lottery players has gone towards helping people to tackle some of the most pressing issues in their communities – combating loneliness, improving mental health and engaging young people”