THREE community projects in Basildon have been awarded nearly half a million pounds in grants from The Big Lottery Fund.

St Luke’s Hospice in the town has secured a grant of £470,000 to support its one-to-one counselling sessions and other activities.

Two other Basildon community activities – Gateway radio station and Basildon Ladies’ Self Defence – have received £9,000 in lottery funding each.

The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for distributing funds raised by the National Lottery for good causes around the country. This year, £2.7million has been given to 32 projects across Essex.

The funds given to St Luke’s Hospice will go directly to its Problems Overcome with Empowerment and Resilience (POWER) initiative.

The project will meet increasing demand for support services at the hospice, based at Fobbing Farm.

The project’s two main activities will be one-to-one counselling and peer support groups, with the funds enabling people to access one-to-one counselling to deal with the emotional pain of having a life-limiting illness or coming to terms with a loved one’s illness.

Peer support groups will be run by attendees who have been given the confidence to offer their own support to those going through similar experiences.

The hospice’s support and care is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, offering more than 25 different services.

It also works with GPs, hospitals, community nurses and other health care and social care professionals.

It celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015, and previously received an award from the prestigious Health Care Foundation to pilot a groundbreaking Shared Care Pathway project with Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital supporting people with liver disease.

The good news comes after the hospice’s charity shop in Market Square was burgled in March this year.

Gateway 97.8 FM will be using its grant to run radio production courses, titled “Gateway to Production” for excluded students and people not in employment, education or training.

The courses, which will take place in the radio’s studio in Eastgate Centre, will aim to help them build new skills and confidence and help them to find work.

Danny Lawrence, Project Lead for Gateway to Production, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding as it means we can help more people from our community, as well as supporting our existing work that gives people of all ages the chance to learn transferable skills.

“We would like to thank National Lottery players for their support.”

Representatives of St Luke’s Hospice were contacted by the Echo but could not be reached for comment before we went to press.