VOLUNTEER groups and small charities across the county have been given a boost in the New Year with vital grants totaling over £130,000 from the Wiltshire Community Foundation.
Many community grants awarded by the charity, the Wiltshire-based county’s largest funder, are staggered over three years, giving their recipients the security of knowing that community projects have guaranteed funding.
Among the recipients of the latest round of community grants is Home-Start Kennet, which received £15,000 over three years to help fund its support for young families. The charity’s volunteers work with parents, who are often alone and isolated, to offer support and advice to cope with young children, budgeting, loneliness and anxiety.
Fundraiser Joanne Kent said the grant will help volunteers provide support to families with children under five, referred to the group by health visitors, schools and children’s centers, for six months at that time.
“We are filling a gap, namely support for home visits, by giving families valuable time to build trust with a volunteer,” she said. “Being home helps identify and address ‘hidden’ needs, such as a child without a bed or food vulnerability.
“Home visits reach families who are isolated or don’t have access to other community support services. Being non-statutory, we assist families who are ineligible or disengaged with statutory support. »
A grant of £15,000 over three years to Julia’s House Children’s Hospice in Devizes will help fund its Respite+ service for families of children across the county with life-shortening illnesses. Fundraiser Lisa Holmes said the service, piloted during the pandemic, is providing essential support for parents, many of whom are still semi-protected because their children cannot get a Covid shot due to their condition.
“Often their children miss the experiences and activities that their peers now come back to,” she said. “This activity allows children to have new experiences in a safe environment with measures that parents trust, allowing parents complete respite.”
Nurses look after children at home, while a sibling worker spends time with siblings to give parents some time for themselves. Ms Holmes said the grant will provide 360 sessions per year for up to 25 families.
“The service will reduce isolation and stress not only for children in Wiltshire suffering from life-shortening illnesses, but also for their families to provide rest, recovery and reconnection,” she said.
Wiltshire and Swindon Credit Union has received £5,000 to upgrade its IT to enable it to extend its service across the county. Currently, it offers low-cost loans to help prevent people in debt from being lured into payday loans or loan sharks.
At present, it is limited to working with families receiving Child Benefit, but new technology will allow it to work with those receiving Universal Credit. She also plans to launch her own debit card and a service to avoid eviction for tenants who are behind on rent.
Fiona Oliver, Co-Chief Executive of the Wiltshire Community Foundation, said: “We are only able to provide these grants because of the generosity of our donors. They trust us to use their donations to have the greatest impact on the causes or places that matter most to them.
“We know the brilliant groups we fund will get there and use the grants to make real improvements in the lives of the local people who depend on them.”
The deadline for applications for the next round of Community Grants, which will be awarded in March, is January 28. More details on eligibility and how to apply at wiltshirecf.org.uk.