A NEWCASTLE Emlyn-based mental health charity has secured nearly £500,000 from The Big Lottery Fund to carry on its vital work in the community.

HUTS Workshop, based at Teifi Terrace, Adpar, has been awarded £495,979 over the next five years as part of a £3.5m payout from the People and Places programme to groups in communities across Wales.

The project is a continuation of the current Outlook scheme, which offers a befriending and outreach service to adults in West Wales with mental health conditions.

It will work across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire offering peer-led support networks as well as a drop-in service providing early intervention to people who have not yet been referred officially.

The funding, over five years, will fund salaries, overheads, training, expenses and delivery costs.

“This is amazing news and will enable us to plan our support services over the next five years,” said secretary and trustee Mo Spowart Davies.

"We are so very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for continuing to back us.

“To get this money at any time would be phenomenal but for any charity I think it is going to be grim in the coming years as local authorities look to cut back. There are less pots of money available and within those pots that do exist, there is less money.

“The thought of not being able to offer help to people out there who really need it would have been awful.

“We have had three years putting the befriending service in place. We know there are people out there who need help but it takes time to put things in place and let people know you are here to help.

“The skills the staff have are phenomenal and this is the only service of its type in the area. There is so little support and if one or two places close down, the impact is even greater.

“It is up to us to get our message across and reach out to people in the community who need help. The ideal aim is to intervene early and prevent problems from escalating. We can do part of that and if not, we can point people to other organisations who can help.”

Mo was also keen to thank the local community for the continued support HUTS has enjoyed over its 20-year history.

“People are always staging events for us and we would like to say a big thank you. Without that support over the years, we would not be where we are now,” she added.

Rona Aldrich, Wales committee member for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Programmes like People and Places are making a difference to the lives of so many people in communities across Wales.

“It delivers on our promise to use National Lottery funding to regenerate and revitalise communities, tackle disadvantage head on and leave a lasting legacy.”

The People and Places programme awards grants of between £10,001 and £500,000 for a broad range of community projects. For further information about the programme and how to apply for funding, visit biglotteryfund.org.uk/fundingfinderwales