Norwich women’s group launches social enterprise with share of �1.1m windfall

An art group which helps empower women in Norwich to learn new skills and boost their confidence is among dozens to have benefited from a �1.1m handout.

The money has come from Norfolk County Council's Living Well in the Community Fund, which encourages projects to help adults live independently for longer and improve their quality of life.

A total of 42 community groups, churches, voluntary and charitable organisations and councils will share grants of �1,098,977.

The cash handout is the third round of funding, and applications for the fourth – worth �440,000 – are now being accepted.

Among those groups is Sweet Arts, a Norwich-based group which offers free creative workshops for women, some of whom come from difficult backgrounds which have left them isolated and lonely.

The group was awarded �50,000, which created one job and secured another at the Sweet Factory, a social enterprise which equips women with employment skills.

Toni Lawton, project manager, said: 'The Sweet Factory is about moving women towards employment, building skills, breaking isolation and increasing confidence. The money has secured jobs, and allowed us to buy machinery and hold events, allowing us to reach even more women and improve their wellbeing.'

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The group hopes to help about 80 women over the next 12 months, with the Sweet Factory eventually progressing to selling the goods made by members.

Funky Fitness, an older people's disco-dance fitness group from Bowthorpe was awarded �4,360, while the Norfolk African Community Association was given �5,000 to run a gardening skills project for Norwich's African community.

Shelagh Gurney, cabinet member for adult social services at Norfolk County Council, said the fund supported those who made communities 'happy, healthy and supportive places to live'.

'If we can support groups and organisations to provide targeted opportunities that will help communities, we hope more people will be able to live more independent lives,' she said.

For details or to apply for a grant of up to �50,000, see or call 0344 800 8020.