Big Lottery: Sunbeams Family
Learning Music Project


UPDATE: June 2012

As we begin our fourth year of our Family Learning Project, supported by a grant of £464,498 from the Big Lottery over a four-year period, we are delighted to announce that we have been successful with an application to the Big Lottery’s Supporting Change and Impact Fund for a further year’s funding for this project!

The Big Lottery Fund has awarded 36 of its grant holders in the North West region an extra year’s worth of funding to enable them to continue their work through the tough economic environment. Projects sharing in the funding - totalling over £4.9 million - provide vital services to some of the most vulnerable groups in society. Many face an uncertain future as their Lottery funding comes to an end, compounded by increasing demand from beneficiaries as other services are forced to scale back or close down, and welfare reforms begin to take effect.

Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust (Sunbeams) will receive a vital grant of £126,275 in order to cope with a dramatic rise in the number of beneficiaries and introduce additional therapy sessions.

The project, for families from highly deprived areas of Cumbria who have children with severe and debilitating disabilities, is delivered in Kendal, Carlisle and Barrow and is now reaching 136 families and 473 family members!

Many children with profound disabilities face serious communication problems so, as well as enabling families to learn and improve their skills together, the project continues to help family members interact more positively, improve their confidence, and strengthen their relationships.

The sessions feature dance, movement and music, especially singing, all accompanied by sign language and embedded with word activities to help families improve their literacy skills.

Annie Mawson, founder and Chief Executive of Sunbeams , said: “The Sunbeams approach is unique - renowned for its effective delivery to people marginalised by disability and/or isolation. We have consistently exceeded our projected outcomes over the past three years, which is why this funding is SO important to us. For example In Barrow, we hoped to serve 16 families for children with complex medical needs, but already this figure stands at 45, and 151 family members instead of the expected 80. It is impossible to turn vulnerable people away.”

Over the past 3 years, we have seen significant improvements in the children’s social skills, their communication skills and even improvements in the children’s physical health.

“ ... finds the environment relaxing and non-threatening. This allows him to enjoy the music, interact socially with other children and be exposed to experiences, which he would not otherwise be able to benefit from. Being able to ‘get up close’ to instruments such as harps, guitars, clarinets etc is wonderful for his general learning.”

‘Thank you again to every one at sunbeams; it is a perfect name as it is the place where every child shines.’ Debbie, Lucy’s Mum.


Bernie in Barrow is a real star on the drums!


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