More than £128,000 from Dorset Community Foundation Neighbourhood Fund helps tiny groups make a difference

Grants of up to £5,000 help make life better for people

More than £128,000 from Dorset Community Foundation Neighbourhood Fund helps tiny groups make a difference

SMALL charities and voluntary groups have shared more than £128,000 in funding from Dorset Community Foundation for projects tackling social problems including poverty, disadvantage and isolation.

Its Neighbourhood Fund targets smaller groups and charities working in communities to help make life better for people with grants of up to £5,000.

The latest round of funding  has supported 34 groups across Dorset, including Bournemouth Foodbank, which is using a £4,997 grant to launch a fortnightly Recovery Café at its Garden Rooms café in De Haviland Road, Boscombe, to support people who already use the foodbank and are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Grants and Fundraising Manager Rio Argent said the grant would cover the costs of a chef, a barista and food with the café being staffed by volunteers with experience of the issues its guests will be facing. “We will use food and drink as a gateway in engaging with this group in our community offering a new way of preventing relapse,” she said.

The foodbank already runs a weekly social canteen that welcomes around 90 people every Friday, including 17 children who are ensured a hot healthy meal before going into the weekend without their typical school hot meal.

Nature Connection Dorset will use a £2,500 grant to run a series of 20 creative nature walks in and around Bournemouth for people struggling with mental health conditions, carers and those who have experienced domestic violence.

The group plans to offer five different walks to four groups of up to ten people, led by facilitators qualified in mindfulness techniques, meditation, yoga, forest bathing and natural arts and crafts.

“Our aim is for participants to have significantly improved mental health and wellbeing, improved physical health, boosted self-confidence, a belief of being able to achieve new things and a sense of belonging,” said group chairman Amanda Jones.

“We are delighted and grateful to have received the fund and are excited to put it to good use for the benefit of local communities. We have already received great interest in the upcoming projects and love the positive effect these events have on people’s frame of mind.”

We are delighted and grateful to have received the fund and are excited to put it to good use for the benefit of local communities

Escapeline works in in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to prevent young people from being recruited into county lines drug gangs. It works with schools to teach parents, young people and the community about the gangs’ methods. It holds assemblies, workshops and courses for pupils, trains teachers to recognise the signals and helps parents through a telephone helpline and a support group.

Founder Lisa Hooper said the £5,000 it has been awarded from the fund will cover the cost of assemblies and workshops. “We run a seven-week education programme in schools, with either small groups, or if needed, one-to-one, building up trust with the young people and encouraging them to share their experiences in a safe environment,” she said. “The fear of serious physical violence as revenge for disrespecting, or ‘grassing’, is one of the things that prevents young people from leaving gangs or seeking help from the police and other agencies.

“An exploited child has no voice. We empower young people to speak out and advocate for them if need be.”

Arts education charity Creative Kids in Boscombe has been awarded £4,800 to grow its Unbox Project one to one drawing and talking courses to children and young people struggling with trauma or waiting for NHS mental health services.

Founder Cary Lightfoot said the courses will help tackle NHS waiting lists through support from a qualified practitioner. She said the 12 weekly one-hour sessions use drawing and talking as a therapeutic approach, assisting children to process emotional pain and trauma in a calm, friendly and supportive environment.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve seen a much higher number of anxious children coming through our doors who struggle to manage everyday emotions,” she added.

“National lockdowns, food poverty, rising energy bills, wars and environmental issues have played a huge part in children’s mental health, especially those who were already classified as ‘vulnerable’ pre-COVID. We’ve listened to the desperate pleas of parents who have told us their stories, shared their frustrations, and asked us for help.

“With a wait time to see a mental health professional of up to two years, we felt we must act now.”

Dorset Community Foundation Chief Executive Grant Robson said: “Thanks to the generosity of our donors we are able to use this fund to support the work of 34 brilliant grass roots groups who are  working so hard to tackle a variety of issues in their community.

“They have the passion and the expertise to improve the lives of people living in their neighbourhoods so we are really pleased to be able to give them the resources to continue making such a huge and vital difference.

“This fund is always oversubscribed and I’d be really to talk to anyone who’d like to support it so that we can empower many more groups like these.”

The next round of applications for the Neighbourhood Fund open in November.

Pictured above: Bournemouth Foodbank’s Social Canteen, a Creative Kids session and out in the fresh air with Nature Connections Bournemouth

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