AN ALTRINCHAM charity that works to improve the lives of adults with learning difficulties is celebrating after receiving thousands of pounds to provide new equipment.

Sale and Altrincham Mencap has been handed £3,000 by Lloyds Bank Community Fund to expand its programme of workshops and activities, which includes football matches, day trips and yoga and art classes.

The charity, which has been serving the area since 1958 and has almost 200 members, beat off stiff competition from community groups across the region to take home the prize following a public vote.

And administrator Noeleen Kearns – in her eighth year with the charity – was overjoyed by the news of receiving such a significant amount.

“It is absolutely fantastic,” she said. “That, to us, is a huge sum of money. “We were fundraising at the Manchester Arena throughout November and December – it was bitterly cold and miserable – and we didn’t even make that much over the two months.

“The main thing that we do is to offer them a place where they can socialise with their peers. They feel safe and secure here – it just gives them independence and confidence.

“I have seen the difference in so many of them, in terms of how confident they are. “Before we managed to get all these things running, a lot of them were basically sat in all day watching television.”

Now in its second year, the Lloyds Bank Community Fund gave grants to more than 1,332 local good causes in 333 communities throughout England and Wales.

Four good causes were nominated by staff in each community with more than 2.3million votes cast in branches, online and by text message at the end of 2013.

In each community the two good causes with the most votes both received £3,000, with the other two receiving £300 each to help them benefit their community.

Sale and Altrincham Mencap was up against G-Force, The Autistic Society Greater Manchester and Counselling and Family Centre in the local poll, with Mencap and the Autistic Society getting the most votes and receiving £3,000.

“The other wonderful thing that it did was it showed us the support that we have from the local community,” Noeleen added.

“One of the problems we have is that people seem to think that we are funded by national Mencap, which is not the case. Schemes like Lloyds – for us it is fantastic.”

Lloyds Bank has provided funding to 1,332 community groups in England & Wales through its Community Fund in 2013. To find out more about the community groups in your area, visit