The Jac Lewis Foundation, based in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, is a charity providing mental health and wellbeing support to the community. The Foundation was established in 2019 in memory of Jac Lewis, a popular and much-loved member of the community and player for Ammanford AFC. It provides access to free counselling, wellbeing workshops, play therapy, training courses and a place for community members of all ages to come together and chat.
Their wellbeing centre, built by local builders and businesses at no cost to the Foundation, is located on the pitch at Ammanford Football Club. It now employs a full-time counsellor and a further 60 trainee counsellors are involved, providing support to people for a range of issues through GP referrals, self-referrals, and walk-ins. To date, over a thousand people have accessed their support, with therapies ranging from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, EMDR for PTSD, Play Therapy for children, Family Therapy and counselling.
The Foundation received two grants worth a total of £19,240 from The National Lottery Community Fund in 2020 and 2021, specifically for their Bereavement through Suicide Support Service, one of five projects the charity is currently running. This service helps people across Wales who are recently bereaved by suicide by offering immediate access to counselling, information, and group support. The grants also funded a psychotherapist and sessional supervision costs. Over 100 people who have been bereaved through suicide have benefited from the service so far, using the rapid response model of contacting anyone affected by a suicide within 48 hours, safeguarding them and offering support at any time in the future.
Liz Thomas-Evans, Director of Services at the Jac Lewis Foundation said: “This project was born from the heart and the goodwill of people in the community. Without the support of the local Ammanford community and the money raised by National Lottery players, this vital mental health service wouldn’t be possible.
“Suicide numbers in Wales increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore this funding has been instrumental in developing this new service to support families losing a loved one through suicide at this very difficult time.
“We would like to say a big thank you to The National Lottery Community Fund for their continued support with the Wales Bereavement through Suicide Project. The grant application process was easy and accessible, and the Funding Officer was very helpful. I would definitely encourage people to put an application in.”
The Foundation is passionate about putting the community first and regularly checks in with the people they support, ensuring the service is fit for purpose and meeting the needs of the community. The community is heavily involved in the charity, whether offering their time and materials for the wellbeing centre or taking part in the numerous fundraising activities which directly funds their work.
The valuable work of the Foundation is having a positive impact on the community and beyond, providing quick and easy access to counselling, reducing the stigma of mental health issues and creating a lasting legacy of support.