County Council grants to help community projects

The first tranche of grants from Essex County Council’s £500,000 fund to support grass roots, community led action will see thousands allocated to initiatives across the county.

Essex County Council established the Community Challenge Fund to help people improve their local area with scale community projects between the value of between £300 and £2,000.

The money is specifically targeted at communities in levelling up areas including Canvey, Basildon, rural Braintree and parts of Colchester. Now the first of these applications are set to see £7,500 being approved.

A free youth club in Basildon is to receive £2,000 to pay for dance, arts and sports coaches for children ages between eight and 10.

Numbers have tripled since the start of the year when the project started at Briscoe Primary and Nursery School in Pitsea.

As well as giving children somewhere safe to play and socialise, the club wants to help aid the transition of children from Year 6 into Year 7.

A statement as part of the bid said: “Positive feedback is being received from parents of special educational needs children, those who have been home schooled and haven’t had much if any contact with their peer group, families who normally struggle to communicate due to a lack of speaking English and those who suffered particularly badly during the pandemic.

“We have widened our focus and are now organically creating a youth and community club to hopefully benefit anyone and everyone in our local area. The long-term benefits will be a greater understanding and respect for everyone and the building of community spirit.”

A project to help people afford to grow their own vegetables and to encourage them to start more projects around Greenstead in Colchester is to receive £500.

A project to make ‘wildflower bombs’, in Colchester is to receive £2,000.

Based at Greenstead Community Hall organisers say the project will encourage respect for the environment, a healthy lifestyle and community feeling.

A statement as part of the bid said: “The idea will benefit anyone that does walking or attended green or park areas in the local area.

“We will need people making ‘wildflower bombs’, spreading them in the designated area and having an afternoon catch up to mingle and discuss further ideas to provide positive impact for the environmental that will be collected and shared to the responsible authorities.”

A park play exercise class in Colchester is to receive £1,000. The funding is to be used to help buy new fitness equipment, help with advertising and getting new coaches on board to host more sessions around the surrounding areas.

A statement said: “There’s aren’t many fitness classes that cater for both the adults and children, this session will cater for both. Especially in the more deprived areas of Colchester there may not be many activities that parents can afford for their children. The session will be held each week.”

A bid for £960 to create a support group for carers in Braintree who are isolated or experiencing struggles with their mental wellbeing has been referred for funding from other sources.

A statement as part of the decision set to be agreed by Councillor Louise McKinlay, deputy leader and cabinet member fo community, Equality, partnerships and performance, said: “The approval of these applications, received in response to the council’s Community Challenge Fund (CCF), will directly support grass roots, community-led action, that will be aligned to the levelling up places.

“Levelling up and working with and empowering communities are key components of Everyone’s Essex with specific commitments across all four of our strategic aims and as key operating principles for how we will work as an organisation.

“As such these applications will work to directly contribute to delivering our levelling up commitments as well as acting as a catalyst for closer working with specific communities in the future.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter