A MALVERN-based support network for families with special needs is one of the first projects in the UK to receive cash from the newly-named National Lottery Community Fund.

The community funder, the largest in the UK, changed its name earlier this week from the Big Lottery Fund and has now awarding almost £300,000 to What Makes You Different Makes You Beautiful.

The group supports children who have disabilities and additional needs, as well as their families, across Worcestershire.

Various activities are held at its centre in Howsell Road including cookery, coffee mornings and parties.

Day trips are also provided to places like farms, theme parks and bowling alleys and there is a weekly club especially for the children’s siblings.

This provides a safe and welcoming space, bringing families together so they can meet others in similar situations, helping to reduce loneliness and create new friendships.

Founder Kim Philpotts said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we can continue to support families with special needs across Worcestershire. As a mother who has a child with a brain injury, I discovered that there wasn’t the support and respite out there and I’ve put my heart and soul into helping change this.

“Our activities are a lifeline to the whole family unit. It’s so important to also support the parents and siblings of children with disabilities and additional needs. We’re so grateful to be able to carry on this vital work.”

Matt Poole of the fund said: “We’re delighted to be supporting What Makes You Different Makes You Beautiful to help children with special needs, and their families, thrive. Thanks to National Lottery players, people across Worcestershire will have more opportunities to come together, sharing memorable experiences and sparking new friendships.”

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by lottery players for good causes. Last year - as the Big Lottery Fund - it awarded over half a billion pounds and supported over 11,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. 90 per cent of the grants it makes are for under £10,000.