Community groups in Stoke-on-Trent have just weeks left to apply for a share of a £3m cashpot that has already made huge differences to dozens of groups in the city.
A total of 82 organisations have so far received £1.7m between them to spend on new equipment and improvements to their buildings and infrastructure through Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Community Investment Fund. Projects have ranged from new flooring for gymnasts, to a community garden and a tractor to improve ladsandads pitches.
Now groups are being encouraged to get their applications in before the December 31 deadline for the third and final round, with £1.3m still left to be handed out from the city council in grants ranging from £500 to £50,000.
Penkhull Village Brass, a community brass band that started in March 2015, received £13,500 to buy new musical instruments in the first round of the scheme in January. Ten months on, band manager Glynn Lewis says the funding had made a huge difference to the group.
He said: “The equipment we were using was beyond repair, so we used the money to buy replacements. Since we received the funding, and the extra publicity the group received on the back of it, it’s had a really positive knock-on effect. We now have just under 40 members overall and have even started a full children’s band. We actually sent the old instruments off to a charity in Africa and they are now being used over there, so the Community Investment Fund hasn’t just benefited our group, but also people thousands of miles away.
“My advice to any groups out there who have an idea of something they want to do would be to get your application in. We found the process very easy and straightforward. The application took about an hour to complete and it’s made a huge difference for us.”
Another successful recipient is Barnicles, a small independent café based in Fenton Town Hall. They were awarded £47,000 to help refurbish the kitchen, main entrance area and stairwell, and create a balcony and bar area in order to host more events and activities at the venue.
Director Nichola Twemlow said: "The Community Investment Fund is helping to bring a much loved community building back to life. Fenton Town Hall will be offering great food and a space for the community to use for events, music, parties and many other things. The application was easy to understand and the team at the council has been incredibly supportive throughout the process. I would strongly recommend that other community groups submit an application.”
Through the Community Investment Fund, the city council has pledged £3m over three years to support community groups, not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises and voluntary groups. The money is intended to be used on equipment or physical improvements to buildings, rather than paying for staff or running costs.
Applications need to meet certain criteria and demonstrate how they have an impact on:
- Supporting families to fulfil their potential;
- Creating thriving places and communities;
- Creating strong communities, where people live their lives well.
Cllr Abi Brown, deputy leader of the city council, said: “The investment fund has been a huge success so far, helping 82 groups and organisations across the city to take a step up and deliver projects they’ve always dreamed of. I’ve visited many of them myself and I’ve been so impressed with the work taking place and the innovative ideas. It’s fantastic to see what a difference the fund is making to residents and communities throughout all our six towns.”
Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “We’ve given out £1.7m so far and we still have £1.3m left to give out in our third and final round of the fund. The money is available and we want to see every last penny go towards helping community projects, so if you run a group get your application in, or if you know someone who does, make sure they know about the fund so they don’t miss out.”
For more information on the fund and to apply, visit www.stoke.gov.uk/cif
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987.