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Project Aspire Changed Approach Before Awarding Its First Community Grants

Published on: 16 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 16 Jul, 2016

Play schemes, fitness classes and funding for social activities were among the successful bids made by community groups and organisations to Guildford Borough Council’s Project Aspire.

The grants panel evening took place at the Park Barn Social Centre on June 27. The picture show some of those who were making bids during the evening.

The grants panel evening took place at the Park Barn Social Centre on June 27. The picture show some of those who were making bids during the evening.

In total, £31,305 was awarded, in this, the first round of small grant applications, a part of £250,000 that will be invested in the Westborough, Stoke and Stoughton wards over the next three years.

Project Aspire has been set up by Guildford Borough Council to “support communities to develop local solutions to local issues”. It began earlier this year and could be said to currently be finding its way, as aspects of it have and are being tweaked as it progresses. It may also later cover the wards in and around Ash. One of its aims is “to seek to empower all our communities to take an active role in the decisions that affect their lives”.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS understands that the funding panel had originally been titled “Dragons’ Den” after the TV programme in which hopeful business people pitch their ideas to a ruthless panel of potential investors.

The name was dropped by the council’s Project Aspire team after it had been pointed out by members of the community that it implied a daunting process for this type of small community grants scheme, and that some of those applying and making a pitch in public may have felt intimidated.

Names who had been lined up for the “Dragons” panel but who were later dropped included Peter Gordon of Eagle Radio and the actress Jenny Seagrove, who lives locally.

Those who received the recent funding included:

Positivity in Progress, an organisation that helps people suffering from depression lead a positive life, and its fellow organisation Future World of Work, which helps people get back into employment, teamed up with the Guildford Children’s Centre in Bellfields and were jointly awarded £10,000 to put their schemes into practice at the centre.

Kings College in Park Barn was awarded £5,000 to help it become more accessible to the community. Part of the funds will enable it to be open out of school hours for community use of its buildings.

Meeting Point, a group that comprises mainly older people and which meets weekly at St Clare’s Church in Park Barn was awarded £750 to help fund its activities.

Likewise, Monday Chat, which also meets weekly at St Clare’s Church benefits to the tune of £300.

The Park Barn-based 4getMe-Nots – a social group for people who need a little encouragement in their lives received £360 so as to continue operating.

The New Life Baptist Church that meets in the purpose-built community building at Queen Elizabeth Park in Stoughton, was awarded £1,500 to help it set up a Friday lunch club open to all members of the community.

The Park Barn & Westborough Community Association was granted £500 to help it fund coach trips and outings for elderly people and young families.

St Peter’s Church in Bellfields was successful in bids to help run two of its groups (open to all), the Little Fishes Toddler Group (£500) and the Fab Friday Fun Club (£300).

A new running group called Westborough Warriors that will be free to join and which will meet at Bannisters field each week, received £500 to get it up and running.

The independent summer play scheme CHIPS, received £500 to help it continue its good work.

The Spinney Children’s Centre in Park Barn was awarded £4,620, Age UK Surrey £475, and Surrey Youth Focus £5,000.

Voluntary Action South West Surrey put in a number of bids for the work it does supporting the communities of Westborough, Stoke and Stoughton. These included its “Joining In!” project that supports community involvement, the brand new “Guildford Time Bank”, and a free and simple to use email and website system ideal for small groups, called “”, which was granted £1,500 in total.

Not all the groups who were successful were granted all the money for which they applied and others were not successful at all.

These included the Boileroom music and arts venue that has plans to extend its outreach into local communities, the Matrix Trust, a Christian charity that works to help young people, and the Park Barn-based Rhythm of Life community choir that applied for £3,200 to enable expenses to be paid for the coming two years to its volunteer musical director.

The council has said those who were not given grants this time around will be contacted to further discuss their needs and that they can apply for funding at the next round of bids in December.

Those who were were applying for £500 or less had only to supply written bids. For those asking for £500 and over (the maximum being £5,000 per group) were invited to pitch their ideas to a panel that met at the Park Barn Social Centre on Monday, June 27.

The panel: from left, Steve Shipp, Gordon Jackson and Paul Spooner.

The panel: from left, Steve Shipp, Gordon Jackson and Paul Spooner.

The panel comprised the Mayor of Guildford, Gordon Jackson; the leader of the council, Paul Spooner; and Steve Shipp of the Chelsea Football Club Foundation.

Cllr Iseult Roche (Con, Worplesdon), lead councillor for community, health and sport, said: “Thank you to everyone who came and shared their ideas – we will be holding another event later this year for the second round of funding.”

The community grants scheme is one aspect of Project Aspire. Click here to find out more on the council’s website.

Also make a date in your diary for the free to enter Guildford Games 2016 event, being hosted by Project Aspire on Bannisters field, off Egerton Road (Near Guildford Tesco), on Saturday, September 24.

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