The Community Chest was launched by Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council in June this year. As well as simplifying the range of grants previously offered, the new form of funding is designed to encourage organisations to innovate new ways that they can improve the lives of residents.
Charities, community and voluntary organisations are asked to demonstrate how their work will help support families and strengthen community resilience. The two councils can also use the Community Chest to commission an organisation to carry out a project which again helps meet its families and communities agenda. As with councillors' individual locality budgets, this money is going to where the community has demonstrated it is needed. Community initiative and support is an important part of reviewing the applications.
Close to £90,000 has been awarded to groups in the first batch of grants.
In Forest Heath Community Chest awards include:
· £23,286 to Suffolk West Citizens Advice Bureau to support a six month pilot scheme providing an outreach service to Lakenheath which will increase access to advice for benefits, debt, housing as well as free access to an independent financial adviser.
· £23,214 to Sharing Parenting to develop a comprehensive map of parenting support in the area, train parent support volunteers, run parenting workshops, a dads parenting course, and deliver a parenting conference. Overall the project aims to support the social emotional and behavioural development of children in school.
· £5,500 to the Suffolk Digital Cinema Network to further develop, attract new members and run more family or cross generation film events all designed to help combat isolation and strengthen community bonds.
· £5,000 to Unit Twenty Three to support the tour of a social enterprise play and workshops which will lead to the further development of the Young Carers network.
Cllr Robin Millar, Forest Heath District Council’s Cabinet Member for Families and Communities said: “These are the first projects to receive funding from our Community Chest and we hope that the work that these organisations will now be able to undertake will make a real difference to people’s lives. All of these projects look to target a social issue, whether it is debt management, problems with parenting, social isolation, or simply building that sense of community, and provide a level of early intervention to help our communities help themselves. I look forward to seeing the results.”
In St Edmundsbury awards have been given to:
· £17,500 to the Suffolk West Citizens Advice Bureau to expand their telephone service plus promote online services designed to help clients access information to help themselves, particularly those living in rural areas who can’t access face to face services in town. This in turn could lead to both better access to advice and earlier intervention in dealing with issues of debt, benefits, relationship breakdown and employment issues.
· £8,902.50 to Catch 22, Suffolk Positive Futures for a project which will seek to reconnect young people to their local communities, while teaching them life skills and building their confidence – all via free weekly sport sessions in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill.
· £5,000 to Home-Start which helps support families struggling with a range of issues from post-natal illness, isolation, the demands of young children, bereavement, or the challenges of raising children from multiple births. Home-Start volunteers will work with families to try to help them turn things around before they reach a crisis point.
· £1,500 to the Suffolk Accident & Rescue Service which provides local specialist critical care response in Suffolk.
Cllr Robert Everitt, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Families and Communities said: “There is a real mix of organisations and projects that have come forward for funding. Whether it is benefitting communities by involving youngsters in sport, providing support to families, greater access to Citizens Advice services or helping fund a life saving emergency response service – all
A combined total of more than £500,000 has been made available for 2016/17 – the deadline for the first round of applications has now closed and the organisations that have been awarded Community Chest funding will be announced in early January.
Further details about the Community Chest fund, the councillor locality budget scheme and West Suffolk’s Families and Communities Strategy can be found at: www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/community