A North-Devon community project that offers support and advice to people suffering from deprivation and disadvantage is set to expand its services thanks to a bumper grant from the Big Lottery Fund.The Freedom Trust (FT) has been awarded \u00A3443,164 over five years to sustain and develop its social projects to help transform the lives of people affected by issues such as social exclusion, multiple deprivation, homelessness, substance misuse, mental health problems and learning difficulties. The award comes from BIG's Reaching Communities programme, which aims to build stronger communities and improve the lives of those most in need.Operating through its Barnstaple-based Freedom Centre, the Trust offers services such as a drop-in centre, soup kitchen, sign-posting and advice services as well as a social area with leisure activities.As well as safeguarding the future of these facilities, the grant will allow the Trust to increase the personal development and education opportunities available to service users. It will particularly focus on helping people to build life skills in key areas such as budgeting and debt management, maintaining a tenancy, training and employment and health and hygiene."This award is an amazing endorsement of the work we do at the Freedom Centre with the homeless and socially excluded of North Devon," said Phil Noall, Project Coordinator, Freedom Social Projects. "The Big Lottery Funding will not only enable us to secure the existing front-line staff salaries, but will allow us to recruit for much-needed additional posts. This money is a significant boost to the project and will enable us to provide more services to our service users."Mark Cotton, Big Lottery Fund's Head or Region for the South West, said: "The Freedom Trust is doing a fantastic job in supporting members of the North Devon community who may be facing difficulties in their lives. By extending these services and helping people to develop their life skills, the Trust can support this group further still.