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Local good causes have been awarded over £5500 thanks to the new Portsmouth Lottery small grants fund.

Portsmouth Downs Syndrome Association, Portsmouth Abuse & Rape Counselling Service and Portsmouth Autism Support Network have all received funding from the sales of Portsmouth Lottery tickets.

Good causes, who have an annual income below £35,000 and positively benefit the residents of the city can apply for grants up to £5000.

Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association (Portsmouth DSA) were awarded £988 to fund fortnightly drama sessions for our young people and their siblings. The panel heard how children with a disability and their families can feel isolated, the drama sessions provide an opportunity for families to come together in a stimulating and fun environment, to make friends and work as a team.

Rachael Ross, Portsmouth DSA chair said: "It's fantastic news to hear we've been selected for funding. The children really enjoy coming together at these drama sessions on a regular basis to improve their skills and have fun, and I know the families and trustees will be thrilled to hear about the grant. It's very exciting and we really appreciate the support, thank you."

Portsmouth Autism Support Network (PASN) help families with children on the autistic spectrum, giving them access to information and a range of activities. They received £2080 to fund weekly football sessions.

PASN's funding & events coordinator Sharnna Carter said: "PASN will be using the grant to run weekly football sessions at Goals in Portsmouth, organised exclusively for the many children that suffer from autism living in our city. These unique sessions allow our members to play football without the pressure of being part of a team, unlike many that do. They focus on teaching football skills, building confidence and enabling a relaxed form of social interaction."

Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service (PARCS) aims to promote healthy relationships and alleviate the physical, emotional and psychological distress associated with issues such as rape and sexual abuse or exploitation.

Kim Hosier PARCS centre director said: "Male rape and sexual abuse survivors will have greater access to specialist counselling thanks to a grant from the Portsmouth Lottery. Breaking the silence that surrounds abuse is not easy, particularly for men, and PARCS wants to ensure that support is readily available when men step forward. The charity applied to the Portsmouth Lottery because it has seen a recent increase in referrals from men due partly to the widespread coverage of sexual abuse within sport."

Cllr Lee Mason, Chair Portsmouth Lottery Small Grants Funding Panel said: "We're delighted to  support local good causes, and the success of the Portsmouth Lottery has meant that we've already been able to donate over £5500 at our very first funding panel.

"The lottery is all about good causes and helping generate opportunities to raise money when resources are tight. 

"Portsmouth Autism Support Network, Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association and Portsmouth Area Rape Crisis are such important causes, offering much-needed support for families in the city.

"In addition to the small grants funding panel, the lottery also has registered charities who regularly receive a portion of ticket sales too."

Community groups and good causes can get more information and apply for the next funding panel.

To sign up to play the Portsmouth Lottery, where there's a weekly draw and a maximum jackpot of £25,000 plus smaller prizes, visit www.portsmouthlottery.co.uk