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How The National Lottery are helping us to support more people experiencing social anxiety in Cornwall

We’re super excited to be celebrating being awarded almost £220,000 in National Lottery funding to support our work with people who feel anxious and avoidant in social situations. The grant will be used to run more activities across Cornwall that support people in growing confidence and self-acceptance whilst making new friends.

As many of you know, Quiet Connections is a young social enterprise, founded in 2017 by Hayley Stanton who experienced social anxiety herself and struggled to access support. The next year, Hayley was joined by her Co-Director Stacie Clark who has similar experiences. Having met on Cornwall School for Social Entrepreneurs’ Start Up course, they have made it their mission to change the way that people who feel anxious in social situations are supported and to increase awareness of social anxiety.

Already, Quiet Connections has supported over 500 local people through courses, coaching and quiet get-togethers, where people are encouraged to gently ‘stretch their comfort zones’ at their own pace through meeting new people, trying new things and practising their social abilities in a safe space to improve their confidence and self-belief. In that time, we have also reached around 3,000 people through our awareness raising activities, including our successful creative exhibitions that enable Team Quiet to share their stories in quiet ways.

“Coaching helped me realise that each and every one of us have individual stories that are important enough to be shared; actually, they need to be heard. It offered me a whole new mindset and the confidence to know that it is OK to use my voice”

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, funds our new ‘Connect, Stretch, Grow’ project, which will see new groups running across Cornwall. This means that opportunities for support and connection will be more easily accessible. We’ve trialled community groups and courses over the past year or two and both the feedback that we have collected and the learnings we have gained have helped to shape this new project. This project also creates up to 20 new volunteer opportunities so look out for more information on volunteering coming soon.

At the same time, thanks to this National Lottery funding, we will be able to focus on reaching people in the local community who aren’t yet ready to join in; offering support, reassurance and, eventually, online courses to ease anxieties and help them to take positive steps towards participation.

“The best bit is that there’s no pressure to be anyone but yourself. Other people can relate to how hard and stressful it can be. It’s really good; a chilled atmosphere and no pressure to participate.”

This funding is wonderful news for people in Cornwall who are feeling anxious and avoidant in social situations and want to access our support, which up until now, has been limited to certain areas and types of support because of available funding. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to increase the support we are offering across Cornwall. This is so important for all of us because social anxiety is a huge, unspoken issue affecting more than 1 in 10 of us –that’s almost 57,000 people in Cornwall! Yet, we all know it often feels like we are the only person feeling this way. But now we have an even greater opportunity to show people like us that they are not alone; bringing people together in safe, supportive spaces to gently stretch their comfort zones and build truly understanding friendships that offer the encouragement and support we all need to grow.

“They were really welcoming and helped me get the confidence to get a job. Now, I’m earning money and I never thought I could get to this stage but because of them I have. I am so happy I attended Quiet Connections, it really helped and I would definitely recommend it!”

This is amazing news for Quiet Connections too. We’re all delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund is recognising and supporting our work in this way. And we, too, want to recognise the work of our awesome funding officer at the National Lottery Community Fund, Steve, who supported our funding application, drew out all the information he possibly could from us, and pitched our project to the panels of decision-makers along the way. Thank you for believing in us and championing our cause, Steve!

In fact, throughout this long process, we’ve been supported, encouraged and championed by so many people. We want to thank every one of you; from all the kind professionals who specifically wrote something in support of our application, to the participants who gave us feedback and testimonials, the locals who completed our research surveys and our mentors who are always on hand for advice. Our application couldn’t have been successful without the support of the people we work with, the people who support us and professionals who signpost to us so here’s a huge thanks to YOU.

Save the Date

We’ll be holding our Connect, Stretch, Grow launch party on Tuesday 12th May, which also just happens to be Quiet Connections 3rd birthday. We’d love you to celebrate with us! Keep your eyes peeled for more information as we firm up our plans.

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