The first Celebrating Crewkerne Community gathering was declared a success with many local organisations sending a representative along to find out about community grants, meet others to share ideas and experience and enjoy the free tea and cakes. The afternoon event at Henhayes Community Centre was organised by A Better Crewkerne and District (ABCD) and Spark, the Voluntary Sector Support service in Somerset. Diane Butler, chair of ABCD welcomed everyone before a presentation was given by Andrew Ridgewell of Somerset Community Foundation on grants that are available to community groups, that have a constitution, management committee and a separate bank account for their group.
Andrew Ridgewell said: “We are keen on funding smaller groups and supporting communities. Somerset Community Foundation can provide help with project costs, fees for organising and setting up community groups and much more. We distribute around £550,000 per year across Somerset through approximately 250 individual grants, the average amount being £2,500. We have four different categories for our Foundation Grants and five programmes.”
Somerset Community Foundation focuses mainly on the reduction of isolation and disadvantage in rural communities, particularly of the elderly, advancing people’s mental and physical health, improving life skills, education and employability for young people with special educational needs and disabilities and helping to create stronger communities by continuing to support the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.
Following Andrew’s presentation, Joanne Mudhar, Voluntary Sector Advisor with Spark gave a brief introduction and explained how Spark can provide practical support to the voluntary sector. Spark is concentrating on Crewkerne and providing assistance over a period of 12 months, to help encourage community groups to grow and more people to volunteer their services in the local community. Ideas for several new projects in Crewkerne were shared during the networking session, which included a minibus service to and from the town to Crewkerne railway station and an annual literary festival.
All those who attended the event agreed that similar gatherings to celebrate Crewkerne community, would be very welcome. It was agreed that the current venue was ideal but that times should vary so that those who had been unable to attend because of work would have the opportunity to be at future gatherings. Spark will also be running training sessions next year on a variety of topics in Crewkerne, with a Stand Out On Social Media training day already scheduled for February 9th, 2018.