Water Lily Project

The Water Lily project is a community initiative based in Christchurch to support vulnerable young women with or without children.

Water Lily Project

They offer regular practical and emotional support and run a local training café providing women with the opportunity to volunteer and develop new skills in a safe and welcoming environment. The grant contributed towards the salary of a part-time manager to run the café and support volunteers.

What were your steps to success?

  • When considering making the application we were a new charity and we needed our trustees to be ‘hands on’ – our trustees have continued to be engaged and have specific roles, for example we have a dedicated trustee who looks at funding opportunities for us.
  • We needed help initially (provided by Bournemouth CVS) to set up as a registered charity and with financial advice. Our trustees also received some training around their roles and responsibilities.
  • The café had been previously managed by another charity, however, they could no longer afford to continue – by working closely with them we were able to come to an agreement to share the rental costs and they allowed us to keep the equipment free of charge. In return, we were able to offer support and continuity to their existing vulnerable clients.
  • We needed to ensure that we were providing a safe environment for the vulnerable women volunteering at the café –  making sure that our risk assessments were up to date and implemented was very important.
  • We learned that Disclosure Barring Service  checks are free of charge for volunteers and received valuable advice from the Volunteer Centre about the  application process.

What learning would you like to pass on…

  • Don’t apply for funding ‘just because it’s there’ – make sure your type of project is a priority for the funder.
  • Have a clear idea about how you are going to measure the outcomes required by the funder – we have adapted the Outcome Star for our project.
  • Health and Safety and food hygiene courses are easily available online which is a really practical and cost-effective way to train your volunteers.
  • Value your volunteers! We are planning an ‘Away Day’ for ours and are continually thinking of ways to show our appreciation.

‘Value your volunteers!’

And now….

Unfortunately, we did not have the funds to continue to fund the café manager’s post, but we continue to search for more funding and our volunteers are keeping the project going. There is new interest in the project and we may be working with other agencies including housing associations and a local college in the near future.

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