Community Development Fund helps local organisations in tough times
We all search for positive stories to help us through hard times, and it’s certainly true that one of the few ‘silver linings’ of the Coronavirus pandemic has been a resurgence in a real sense of community spirit right across the UK. From local taxi firms delivering fresh, locally sourced produce from food banks, to Captain Tom raising donations of over £30 million for the NHS, many of us have felt uplifted by the feeling that adversity brings us together.
As we slowly and safely emerge from lockdown restrictions, local voluntary organisations, including sports clubs, youth groups and skills/training groups, are able to resume their activities – and groups like these are set to play a more important role than ever against a post-lockdown backdrop of economic uncertainty. This will be a tricky time for community organisations, who are likely to have seen their usual sources of funding dry up during the lockdown, and this is where Connexus’ Community Development Fund can really help.
Our Community Development Fund (CDF) has been set up to fund communities working together, on local projects, which have a positive effect in their area. Connexus is a not-for-profit business, and the CDF is us actively reinvesting in, supporting, and engaging with the communities we serve across Shropshire and Herefordshire.
The CDF offers grants of up to £5,000 for long-term investment in projects that benefit the communities in which our tenants live. These may be projects that support activities that people want, but no one currently provides; encourage interaction between different generations; and generate training or employment opportunities. No project is considered too small and applications are encouraged for everything from a few hundred quid all the way to the full £5,000.
With fewer leisure activities available to all of us under Coronavirus restrictions, and with many of us feeling a rejuvenated focus on health, the CDF has been proud to support local sports teams for kids and adults. Shawbury FC has just started their junior football training sessions (while following COVID-19 guidelines) and successfully applied for a CDF grant of £2544.90 for new kit to see them through the upcoming season. Besides the obvious benefits to youngsters' health, these junior football sessions will be a stress reliever for parents undoubtedly stressed by a unique summer holiday period.
In a similar vein, Ludlow Cricket Club has been buoyed by ever-growing numbers at the club (especially in the Juniors age-group) but were concerned that their training facilities could not meet this new demand. Ludlow Cricket Club were successful in applying for a £3,000 grant from the Connexus CDF that will go towards all-new triple-lane practice nets. So, watch out Joe Root and the rest – the next big cricket superstar could be coming straight out of Ludlow!
For fans of a different-shaped ball, the CDF approved a grant of £4,000 to the Clee Hill Rugby Club in South Shropshire. The club is run by a team of 40 dedicated volunteers from the local community and the CDF grant is being used to fund coaching courses to take the club to the next level, as well new storage boxes for all those muddy kits.
But it’s not just sports clubs that the Connexus CDF is supporting. Lakelands Academy in Ellesmere were granted £5,000 for a state-of-the-art upgrading of their theatre lighting and sound systems. Though their primary focus is providing top-level education for secondary school pupils, the theatre facilities are enjoyed by people of all ages from the Ellesmere community – something the CDF were only too happy to support.
Another grant that demonstrates the breadth of projects the Connexus CDF can support was the £600 recently given to Bishops Castle's Town Council for crime prevention measures. With a recent spare of home thefts in the area, the Town Council needed support for a project to offer every household in Bishops Castle a Smart Water kit – a security system that protects property, deters criminals and helps police to convict criminals.
With more and more of us feeling like we want to be actively involved in our local communities, the Connexus Community Development Fund is here to support these vital projects. And please don’t feel like your project is too small – some of the grants we’ve covered are large, but the CDF wants to hear about projects big and small. So, are you involved or do you know of a community project in Shropshire or Herefordshire that could benefit from a CDF grant? Find out more about applying here