Falmouth's Davies honoured by National Lottery for supporting families across Cornwall

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Jo, chief executive at WILD Young Parents Project, took her work supporting families nationwide to new heights during the coronavirus pandemic
Jo, chief executive at WILD Young Parents Project, took her work supporting families nationwide to new heights during the coronavirus pandemic

A Falmouth resident has been recognised and honoured by The National Lottery and Repair Shop host Jay Blades for her efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, supporting young parents, children and babies in the most deprived areas of Cornwall.

Jo Davies, 51, who is the chief executive at WILD Young Parents Project, was already running group sessions with mothers focusing on mental health, relationships, healthy lifestyles, including establishing smoke free homes, and building attachment with their children. But they took their work to new heights during the pandemic, offering remote support by listening or delivering items of essential food or prescriptions and supporting families countywide.

Last year the project supported 115 fathers, 214 mothers and almost 250 children. It also provided training to 206 professionals, including teachers and police, on how to work with young parent families.

The charity worker is one of 13 ‘Unsung Champions’ across Great Britain and Northern Ireland being recognised for their time and efforts in supporting some of the most vulnerable in communities during the pandemic.

“During Covid, like most other people, we moved all of our work online – usually it would be face-to-face – but throughout we had 17 groups of young parents joining every week,” said Jo, speaking as The National Lottery has revealed that almost half of people (49%) feel, that notwithstanding the hardships of the pandemic, one of the positives to emerge is the sense of community spirit and 58% have an increased appreciation for community workers.

“At WILD, the main thing is we believe in our families and, certainly within the next year, we hope to launch our ‘Believe In Us’ campaign, which the families will be leading.

Jo’s fundraising and campaigning efforts have earned her a lasting tribute in the local community, in the form of a bespoke bench, distinctively designed by BBC Repair Shop's Jay Blades
Jo’s fundraising and campaigning efforts have earned her a lasting tribute in the local community, in the form of a bespoke bench, distinctively designed by BBC Repair Shop's Jay Blades

“The campaign aims to help policy-makers and the wider public understand how young parents have a distinct set of needs that are nothing to do with their choices and more to do with things that have happened to them through their own childhood, and some of the challenges they have to overcome that most of us never have to deal with.

“A lot of our young parents go on to wonderful things.”

In some communities the actions of a few have made life bearable for many and Jo is just one example of the thousands of people and projects across the UK who have received National Lottery funding in order to support communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

National Lottery players contribute £30 million a week to good causes around the country, many of which are supporting the most vulnerable in communities across the UK during the Coronavirus crisis.

“The National Lottery are big supporters of what we do, and have funded two of our projects and very kindly given us some emergency funding around Covid, so they have helped us keep our head above water financially because the financial world for charities changed dramatically in the first few weeks of Covid,” said Jo.

This increased appreciation for people who help others in their community, has led to a greater desire from the public to honour them. So much so, that 12 times as many people would rather buy a drink for a local charity worker than an A-list celebrity.

Jay Blades said: “Like most of us, I have witnessed inspirational acts of selflessness and kindness this year as people have adapted their lives to help others. It has been an honour hearing about the stories of the 13 people whose work is being honoured with a bespoke bench being placed in their local area.”

Eden Project Executive Director Peter Stewart said: “We are thrilled to have this beautiful bench right in the heart of Eden for our visitors to enjoy. It is such a fitting testament to Jo’s great work with the WILD Young Parents Project. We salute Jo and all of the kind-hearted people who have used National Lottery funding to support their communities so brilliantly in this most challenging of years.”

Dawn Austwick, CEO of The National Lottery Community Fund said: “For 25 years The National Lottery has helped make amazing things happen, but never in such extraordinary times. People and communities have found themselves facing myriad challenges and pressures but have still found the passion and drive to support each other in so many ways. These bespoke community benches are a fitting tribute and show that their incredible work has not gone unnoticed and is in fact recognised, valued and inspiring others more than ever before.”

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