Under-threat Fakenham charity secures lottery funding

PUBLISHED: 08:39 16 September 2015 | UPDATED: 08:39 16 September 2015

First Focus managing co-ordinator April Simnor celebrates with volunteers of charity celebrating £285,000 lottery grant. Picture: Matthew Usher.

First Focus managing co-ordinator April Simnor celebrates with volunteers of charity celebrating £285,000 lottery grant. Picture: Matthew Usher.


A Fakenham charity which was on the brink of closure last year is today celebrating after receiving more than a quarter of a million pounds from the Big Lottery Fund.

First Focus, which has helped thousands of people in the Fakenham area over the last 13 years, has been awarded a £285,352 grant from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Fund.

It means that the charity is looking to expand its services to other areas, including Dereham, increase the amount of activities it runs and move to a new premises, in Fakenham, where it will open for four days a week. It is currently open twice a week.

April Simnor, managing coordinator at First Focus, said she was “shocked” and delighted by the news.

She said: “With all the hard work that went into the bid we were hopeful it would be successful but I am a bit shocked.

“First Focus would like to thank the Big Lottery and is overwhelmed by the support of the volunteers, members and other organisations that all work alongside First Focus in supporting individuals in need.

“We are humbled and thank the Big Lottery in supporting First Focus.”

First Focus helps a wide range of people by hosting clubs and support groups and providing a social meeting place at its current home at Cattle Market Street.

It provides an outreach service to support people in isolated rural areas.

Last year, the charity announced that it could close within weeks if new funding had not been found.

But support, including a £3,000 grant raised by the EDP and Fakenham and Wells Times’ joint Let’s Fight for Fakenham campaign, ensured that it survived.

The charity is now planning for the next five years and wants to move to a new premises in the town and open four days a week as soon as possible.

First Focus is looking for new volunteers to help with this expansion.

For more information, telephone 01328 855083, e mail or visit the website

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