Suffolk Groups Urged To Access Funding Before March Deadline

Clubs, groups and voluntary organisations across Suffolk are being urged to apply for an updated source of funding, designed to help them restructure, reshape or reinvent in the wake of Covid.

More than £510,000 has already been distributed to some 345 groups throughout the county, as part of the Community Restart initiative, managed by Community Action Suffolk.

The fund has now been given a new year rebrand, carrying the strapline ‘2022 Adapt and Evolve’, to reflect the efforts of individuals and organisations in changing how they deliver their service or activity for the benefit of Suffolk’s neighbourhoods.

It comes as voluntary sector teams and groups continue in their attempt to drive confidence and encourage community participation, particularly since news of the Omicron variant emerged.

An expansion of the criteria for submissions has also been made for the start of 2022. This now includes funding for:

  • Holding an event to re-engage communities
  • Subsidising places to increase confidence in returning to clubs and sessions
  • Accommodating increased costs in the wake of Covid – for example, running several sessions of netball training, to account for social distancing

Grants of up to £2,500 can be applied for until 31 March, with additional training, advice and peer support also available from the Community Restart team.

Organisations as diverse as toddler groups, cricket clubs, parent projects, wellbeing sessions and community transport, have already been among the many recipients to be gifted up to £2,500 toward safety measures, post-pandemic adjustments, training or recruitment.

One group to have applied for the latest grant availability, includes Lowestoft Rising Cultural Education partnership, a collective of educators and arts and heritage organisations, with the shared aim of ensuring children and young people have access to high-quality arts and cultural activity. 

The group have been awarded £600 to support their youth arts and heritage festival, allowing children and young people specifically in the deprived wards of Kirkley and Harbour and Normanston in Lowestoft, to engage with cultural activities, express themselves, and develop self-confidence and pride in the place they live.

Phoebe Wingate

Phoebe Wingate is the Cultural Learning Officer for the project. She said: “Covid restrictions have meant adapting the way we offer and deliver access to arts and cultural activity.  

“Our undertakings with schools had to drop drastically due to covid restrictions, and even now as we move into a time where restrictions begin to be lifted, we have to be agile and respond to last-minute changes according to low staffing numbers, Covid levels in schools and individual requirements of organisations. 

“In 2019 we recruited a team of young people to help with the festival, and it’s certainly been a challenging time keeping everyone engaged amid the inability to meet in person, and the inevitable Zoom fatigue. We’re delighted this funding has allowed us to go ahead with things like gazebo hire, venue costs and signage elements.”

Chris Abraham, CEO of Community Action Suffolk, said: “Suffolk Community Restart has been such a clear success in the county since its launch last year, having distributed over half a million pounds and helped hundreds of ‘lifeline’ charities and clubs and venues get back in operation post-Covid.

“Our revised fund criteria and focus is now all about enabling organisations to ‘evolve’ rather than just restart. It provides help for them to shape their organisation in a way which will best serve its users and members for the foreseeable future, whether that’s taking things like social distancing into account, or having the capacity to deliver more activities outdoors.”

Suffolk Community Restart has been made possible through a partnership process involving Suffolk County Council, the District Councils and Borough Councils.

Those keen to apply for grants of up to £2,500, or to find out about on-demand training and additional restart advice, can go to www.communityactionsuffolk.org.uk or email [email protected].

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