Monday, 9 July 2012

Local Young People's Arts Fund Launched


Shaun Ferguson,
Double Joy pupils
and their
silk hanging
Young people in the Lancaster District are being invited to apply to the Nat Merriman Fund for up to £300, which they can use to experience the arts.

The fund was established in memory of Nat Merriman, a young man who passionately believed in the value of creative and performing arts in the lives of young people, who sadly died in 1994 aged 15.

Nat was born and brought up in Lancaster, attending Dallas Road School and Morecambe High School. He was actively involved in the local arts scene through organisations such as The Dukes where he found people with enthusiasm and initiative to match his own. His energy was enormous; he wrote poetry, prose and drama.

The fund aims to enable young people to widen their experience and appreciation of the creative and performing arts. It makes grants up to a maximum of £300 to individuals or groups, as long as the money is not used to fund any form of education that should be provided by a local education authority. 

Applicants must be aged between 11 and 25 years old and live in the Lancaster District.

The money can be used to fund young people to do work experience at arts festivals, residencies abroad for arts projects and much more - what will you do?

The fund has recently enabled Shaun Ferguson from Lancaster to do arts projects at an orphanage in Kenya.

Shaun went with a group from Lancaster and District YMCA to visit Double Joy Children’s Farm, a home and school for children orphaned by AIDS in Kenya that was set up by a woman from Lancaster called Mary Hinde in 1994. At Double Joy, Shaun’s art projects included producing a silk painted patchwork banner and a stencil/mural project for the hospital ward. 

Shaun said “I had known about the children of Double Joy Children’s Farm for many years. I had seen photos, read letters, and taken part in fundraising events, but I had never been. Throughout my stay at Double Joy I ran arts and crafts activities, and I also taught basic maths and English. This has really helped me professionally develop my role as a teaching assistant and has broadened my knowledge extensively. I would like to thank the Nat Merriman fund for their donation towards my trip.”

Rose Beatrice Atieno, a social worker at the Double Joy Children’s Farm, said "Shaun Ferguson was wonderful and full of encouragement to the children. He did art with classes of two to four children every afternoon, which was most remarkable for us to see."

Lou Andrews, a youth worker and leader of the group, said “The aim of the trip was to deliver an arts project to the children, involving us making a patchwork silk painted wall hanging, to make a short promotional film for the orphanage and to play games and sporting activities. We aim to take a further small group over to volunteer in 2013.”

“We have achieved much through participating in this project. We have raised awareness of AIDS and HIV, of child poverty and child slavery. We have mobilised groups of young people, supporting their ideas for fundraising and enabling them to make a real difference to the lives of other children and we have made an amazing piece of art and a film which continues to support the charity. We continue to fund raise for the charity today.”

The Nat Merriman Fund is administered by Lancaster District CVS, a charity that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and which also administers the Galbraith Trust and Community Grants for local community groups.

• If you would like to apply for funding or know someone that might, see the website www.lancastercvs.org.uk/nmf. If you would like to make a donation to the Nat Merriman Fund to enable more young people to experience the arts, please contact Lancaster District CVS by calling (01524) 555900.

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