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Projects to help communities recover from the coronavirus among recipients of £400,000 in grant scheme’s latest awards

Published: Wednesday, 10th February 2021

Projects that will help communities to recover from the impact of the coronavirus are among the recipients of the latest phase of a hugely popular grants programme.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has today (Wednesday) awarded £404,000 to 31 projects as part of its Community Investment Fund.

The money will help grassroots community initiatives right across the city, with a host of schemes that have been successful aimed at bringing people together in new ways and make positive changes to local areas, when the coronavirus restrictions lift and it is safe to do so.  

Successful projects include £24,193 awarded to Al-Maryam to refurbish Winchester Halls in Bentilee, including double glazed windows and disabled access. The works will support the local community in accessing the facility which provides free food boxes, family breakfasts, youth sessions and lunch clubs.

MHA Communities, based in Chell, has been awarded £10,542 to further its work in supporting older residents in the city. The money will be used to purchase 30 tablet devices for a project to help people with the skills, knowledge and confidence to access digital media so that they can understand the benefits of the technology and connect with other people.

St Paul’s Church in Longton has been awarded £14,717 to carry out improvements to the church porch, purchase materials for a gardening club and buy IT equipment. The funding will support a new community garden in the church grounds, giving the chance for local residents to come together outdoors in a safe way. The IT equipment will be used to provide virtual support for the community, connecting people through video calls and online ‘open house’ sessions. The building improvements will provide a drop-off point for donations for local charities.

Other projects to receive funding include £20,047 awarded to Air Space Gallery for a project to bring communities together to use printing presses to create cards and posters; £20,000 towards repairs to the roof of Baddeley Green Working Men’s Club so that community events can continue in the building; two projects totalling a combined £13,000 for Ddeaflinks to establish IT facilities and camera equipment for deaf learners; £25,000 for Foley Meir FC to improve its club pitch and adjoining land so that its facilities can be enjoyed by more community groups; and £25,000 to Stepping Stones Community Organisation to create a studio with cameras for young people aged 16-24 years to produce a twice-weekly interactive show to address issues that people may be suffering through the pandemic such as depression, unhealthy eating, cyber bullying and isolation.

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Public Health said: “Our Community Investment Fund is a hugely popular initiative and it is fantastic to see so many projects being supported that will make a big difference to people right across the city.

“A noticeable theme from the applications for this latest phase of funding was projects that will support communities as we look towards the coronavirus restrictions easing. We know that the past 12 months have been very challenging for all of us, and initiatives that this funding will support will help to address issues of isolation, support outdoor community activities and events, and help creative projects that will bring people together in new ways. We are all looking towards the next 12 months with optimism, and I hope that these projects will make a big difference to residents when the coronavirus restrictions do ease and it is safe for communities to come together again.”

The grants are the latest phase in the Community Investment Fund which has allocated millions of pounds to local community projects in recent years. Further waves of funding are to be made available during the year.

Fiona Priest from St Paul’s Church, Longton said: “"We are delighted that our application for the Community Investment Fund has been successful. It will help us to provide a better service to our parish and community through enhancing our green space for people’s wellbeing, improving online connections for those who are isolated and helping us to be a centre for our community.” 

Liz Daley from MHA Communities said: “We are so pleased to have been able to secure the CIF funding, this will make a massive difference to so many older people across the city. One of the most vulnerable groups, many who have no access to equipment or IT skills to use equipment, who’s health both mentally and physically during the pandemic particularly, has shown a massive decline through isolation and not having digital access. Not for much longer though, they will be able to access new and amazing information, to help them maintain their independence, for as long as possible. The world we take for granted each and every day will be opened up for them to explore. Shopping, making appointments, speaking to family and friends, returning to hobbies, making new friends, the options are endless. We are so looking forward to exploring with them all the possibilities they will have access to, improving their wellbeing and confidence as they learn. These are very exciting times, for us all.”

Council leader Abi Brown said: “The last year has been tough for all of us so it is great to see local communities benefitting from this scheme. The grants will help community initiatives across the city to help their local area recover from the effects of the pandemic.”