Babergh District Council approved community grants totalling £621,939 during the 2020/21 financial year – providing vital funding for organisations responding to Covid-19, sports and leisure facilities, and community venues across the district.
Over the past 12 months, the council’s communities’ team has worked closely with a range of local organisations to ensure grants will best meet the needs of Babergh residents, both now and for many years to come.
The council’s ongoing ambition for communities with bright and healthy futures has also been supported by the allocation of funding for sports organisations, play equipment, community woodlands and green space.
Long Melford Football Club received £75,000 in capital grants and Section 106 funding during the year towards its new clubhouse – safeguarding the future of the long-standing team, in addition to providing a multi-purpose facility for use by the wider community.
Section 106 funding, collected from developers when they build new homes in the district, was also allocated to help revamp a popular skatepark in Hadleigh. Improvement works will see the installation of new equipment, as well as an extension to the park, which is used for skating, cycling and riding by local residents.
A host of other outdoor facilities benefitted from community grants allocated throughout the year, including over £60,000 towards new play areas in Newton, Holbrook and Brantham, as well as funding being awarded to Copdock Cricket Club to help refurbish the site’s car parking facilities.
Funding from the council has also paved the way for improvement works to various community venues across Babergh. The ambitious project to regenerate St Peters in Sudbury received £25,000 in capital grants (in addition to £75,000 in CIL funding) – helping transform the church into a cultural hub for activities and events in the heart of the town.
Chelsworth Church was also given £25,000 towards its conversion into a community facility, whilst £17,180 was allocated to Constable Hall in East Bergholt for a new kitchen and Pinewood Community Centre received £25,000 towards car park improvements.
As well as capital grants to improve facilities, the council awarded over £130,000 in revenue funding to support charities that provide for residents of the district, including Sudbury Citizens Advice, Quay Theatre, Community Action Suffolk, Homestart, the Bridge Project, Rural Coffee Caravan and Lighthouse Womens Aid, among others.
A new Locality Awards grant was also launched last April – enabling Babergh District Councillors to individually allocate funding, totalling almost £47,000, to deserving projects in their ward.
Tom Barker, Assistant Director for Sustainable Communities commented:
“The introduction of Locality Awards has allowed councillors to use relatively small amounts of money to make a big difference to local communities.
“This has not been at the expense of other funding, with the allocation of capital grants increasing by over 200% this year, compared to last – demonstrating our council’s continued commitment to investing in the community facilities needed for Babergh residents to thrive.”
Supporting the district’s ongoing response to Covid-19 also remains a priority, with a new Emerging Needs Grant made available to community groups and town and parish councils to help with increased costs incurred as a result of the pandemic. Since applications opened last year, £70,744 has been allocated to 48 organisations, including foodbanks and mental health services.
Founder and co-ordinator of Bildeston Foodbank Shaun Moffat said:
“We wanted to create a non-judgemental and strictly confidential facility to lighten the burden on individuals and families who are feeling the financial effects of this crisis. The funding from Babergh District Council will allow this vital work to continue.”
This invaluable financial aid will continue as the virus and its aftermath remains in the form of a new Covid-19 Recovery Grant, set to be launched next month, to allow communities to safely emerge from lockdown.