A local community group in Benarty is calling for your vote to secure £17,346 of National Lottery funding as part of this year’s People’s Projects.

Benarty Community Forum, which runs the Community Shop, is one of five groups in the STV region in the running for a share of a life-changing pot of £3 million up for grabs across the UK.

Since 2005, the partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund, The National Lottery and STV have given the public a say in how funding should be put to good use in their local area.

Designed to celebrate some of the incredible projects the National Lottery has supported over the past year, 95 community-based schemes are now shortlisted across the UK.

In each region, the three that receive the most public votes will each get a grant of up to £50,000 to help them continue their work to improve local people’s lives and help their communities to thrive.

The Forum showcased its project on STV regional news at 6 pm on April 1 telling local viewers exactly why they deserve to win.

If successful, they will use the grant for their next phase of their project is to expand and open up in the vacant property next door to the community shop.

This will provide more space to offer more and also the possibility of realising another ambition, to create a new social space in the form of a community cafe.

The other objective for the additional space is to have second-hand furniture that will be donated by the local community and surrounding area.

Michael O’Hare, Secretary of Benarty Community Forum, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to raise awareness and support for our work and, with your help, to secure further much-needed funding.

"We urge local people to get behind us. If successful, this will help us to make an even bigger difference to our local community by Benarty is a small, deprived community which features in the highest index of the SIMD rankings.

"Our aim is to provide a community cafe offering basic food and drinks, with free options as well as a donation option for those with the means to contribute.

"Within the community are many struggling families, and from what we have learned from our schools, some children and their parents are going without food.

"The problem intensifies during school holidays when breakfast clubs are closed. We want to alleviate some of the extreme poverty in our area by providing a cafe with some free options, removing the stigma attached to using food banks.

"Our initial plan was to build up to that in the coming years, but if we are successful in this application, we could really catapult forward and lift the project as well as our staff and visitors."

The People’s Projects has awarded around £42 million to 960 good causes across the UK since it started in 2005.

Voting closes at noon on Monday, 15 April 2019. People can vote once per region and will need a telephone number or email address to vote. To support the Benarty Forum and for Ts & Cs please visit www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk