Our Blog £350k boost from The National Lottery Multicultural Cumbria is proud to announce that we have been awarded £350,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. The transformative grant will allow our charity to appoint staff and move forward with ambitious plans including creating the first multicultural centre in Carlisle. The news was revealed to the nation by presenter Stephen Mulhern on ITV’s Saturday primetime schedule before the main Lotto draw results.Reacting to the news, Multicultural Cumbria’s chief officer, Saj Ghafoor, said: “This makes me quite emotional.“Finally, we are getting the recognition that Cumbria is diverse. It’s what I have been working towards for the past 15 years.“It has been a battle to get people to appreciate how diverse Cumbria is and for that reason investment hasn’t been forthcoming. ”Our very own Tina Borgia, who runs the Dance Carousel Around the World Project, was part of a virtual ITV audience and was surprised with the news by Mulhern - footage that will be seen by millions of viewers this weekend. A former dancer who has a connective tissue disorder, Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Tina has worked with Multicultural Cumbria for the last 11 years. On learning of the grant, she said: “The grant will massively support the work which I am doing and hopefully encourage even more women from different diasporas to take part and enjoy dance.”It is by far the largest amount ever granted to our organisation - which was called Multicultural Carlisle until two years ago. The money will help to put the charity on a firmer footing and will go towards core costs of running the charity and increasing our capacity. Four part-time staff will be appointed, joining the two part-timers already employed.It will also help drive plans to set-up a long-awaited multicultural community centre, so that people can hold events and meetings and the charity is accessible to all.There are also plans for an international cuisine project and an international arts event, and other centres in the south of the county working in partnership with other groups. Saj added: “There is still more money that we need to raise to be able to do everything we want, but this is a very big jump forward.“Cumbria is very diverse, but people can feel isolated. The fact is we have more than 70 languages spoken in the county.“We hold Culture Bazaars and over the last three years people from more than 50 different heritages have attended.“Growing up here and having my kids here, there was nowhere to go. I really hope this funding is that step toward having a place to call home where everyone can come, ethnic minorities and local communities.“We are an organisation that means business and it has been about raising that awareness.“It’s not just about talking about different cultures but engaging people. I’m so excited.” Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said: “We are delighted to hear Multicultural Cumbria have received lottery funding, “Their work, across our county, in celebrating and promoting cultural diversity, bringing individuals and communities together and in providing ongoing support and encouragement to those in need is of incredible value. This grant will help them continue this work and with further impact and reach. “Well done to Saj and the team and we look forward, as one of MCC’s partners, to continuing to support their work for the benefit of the communities we collectively serve.” Andy Beeforth, CEO of Cumbria Community Foundation said, "Congratulations to Saj Ghafoor and all at MCC. It’s been a privilege to stand beside you for many years". In practical terms what does this really mean? It means we can engage, empower.and enable people of all backgrounds and heritages to develop and share their identities through community projects through four Programme areas. Culture, social, education, health and wellbeing.