Transforming West Cumbria, mid-term report 2023

PAGE 16 | TRANSFORMING WEST CUMBRIA TRANSFORMING WEST CUMBRIA | PAGE 17 Veterans struggling with mental or physical disabilities will soon be able to get “paddle boarding on prescription” thanks to a grant from Spark. The ACE SUP School CIC is the brainchild of Colin Fox, from Egremont. ACE SUP School CIC applied through Cumbria Community Foundation and was awarded a Try It grant of £5,000. It was used toward buying a fleet of topof-the-range boards, portable flotation devices and the first year’s insurance. Colin said: “I suffer with mental health issues and paddle boarding helps, being on the water and the solitude: you’re so busy trying not to fall off, that there’s not much room for anything else in your head. “You lose yourself in the environment. I’m ex-forces and have friends who suffer from PTSD and other mental health and physical disabilities, and I wanted to do something to help those guys – but not just them, all veterans. “Paddle boarding in Cumbria is so expensive, because everyone is chasing the tourist pound.” He continued: “The people I think will benefit most are the very ones who are least likely to be able to afford it. If you’re struggling with depression or mental health issues, sometimes it can be hard to maintain work and so you can’t afford luxuries like paddle boarding. “I want to make it accessible for those guys through social prescribing.” The school will offer lessons and access to the club for paying members, with their funds then covering the cost of the free lessons. “The highest price is still considerably less than other providers are charging,” said Colin, “but that’s to fund the free lessons we will do.” The ACE SUP School CIC has an agreement with a GP surgery to accept social prescriptions and will also be working with Groundwork NE and Cumbria. Colin hopes to expand the scheme to accept referrals from other mental health providers. The school is licensed by the National Trust to paddleboard on Wastwater, Buttermere and Crummock Water. Spark empowers people who think creatively about addressing social problems, through an enterprise-based approach. It aims to support the development of a vibrant social enterprise sector in West Cumbria, where social entrepreneurs and community activists flourish and communities benefit. Co-created by Cumbria Social Enterprise Partnership, Cumberland Council and Cumbria Community Foundation, Spark was designed to inspire, encourage and nurture, both new and existing social entrepreneurs. Through the Spark programme Cybermoor Services Ltd’s advisors are supporting wouldbe social entrepreneurs to commence their business journey and helping existing social enterprises to grow and become more resilient. Development grants to test new products and services are also available. The Spark programme offers three levels of support: 'Think It' which is support for aspiring entrepreneurs and community activists to consider social enterprise as a business model; 'Try It' which is one to one tailored support and business grants for existing social enterprises to help trial new ideas; and 'Grow It' which is one to one tailored support and development grants for existing social enterprises to increase impact and become sustainable. CASE STUDY: ACE SUP School CIC Colin Fox Laura and Amanda Heaton-Sutton from Proud & Diverse Cumbria CIC with drag queen Nova. The social enterprise received a Try It grant to work with young LGBTQ+ people before and during Whitehaven’s first Pride event, held in September 2023 Encourage and nurture new and existing social enterprises The Spark scheme inspires and nurtures new and existing social enterprises Started May 2021 38 new start-up social enterprises supported 15 existing start-up social enterprises supported 6 Try It grant awards, total investment £24,810