A sensory garden in Basildon, a centenary orchard near Colchester; a village shop in Blackmore; a home for the homeless in Braintree; a community garden in Loughton; a community minibus in Uttlesford, and a floating dock on the River Stour at Manningtree are just a handful of the innovative community projects across the county set to receive a share of almost £1¼ million from Essex County Council’s Community Initiatives Fund (CIF).
In total, 122 projects were announced that will gain a share of £1,236,438 from the Fund, in a process which unlocks millions more pounds of funding for the projects from other local and national grant giving organisations.
Cllr Simon Walsh, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste who leads the CIF programme, said: “Our congratulations to all the projects which attracted CIF funding this year. It is heartening to see the large amount of work that goes on in towns and villages around Essex at a local grassroots level to make life better for all of our residents.
“We also recognise the outstanding efforts made by all the successful applicants in attracting additional funding for their projects – which this year looks set to generate a further £10 million investment into the county.”
Since it launched 10 years ago, CIF has injected almost £20 million directly into locally-led community projects. The annual fund, designed to support greener, safer and healthier communities, allocates up to £120,000 for each of the twelve districts in the county (excluding Southend and Thurrock).
Cllr John Aldridge, Chairman of Essex County Council, said: “All the successful applicants convinced us of strong local need and community support for their project – so we very much look forward to seeing projects taking shape and having a positive impact on the lives of local people. We also wish to congratulate all those who volunteer so much of their time to make these projects a reality.”
Highlights of this year’s CIF awards include:
- Shotgate Parish Council will receive £13,550 for the construction of a raised sensory garden within a disused area of Shotgate Park owned by Basildon Borough Council.
- Blackmore Village Hall will receive £20,000 for the conversion of an under used squash court in the hall into a community shop.
- Uttlesford Community Travel will receive £20,000 towards the purchase of a new vehicle, with wheelchair positions and a passenger lift, to carry 15 passengers.
- Messing cum Inworth Parish Council will receive £8,623 to create a community orchard on an acre site behind Red House in Messing.
- Hope House charity in Braintree will receive £10,000 towards the purchase of a residential property to accommodate the homeless.
- Above and Beyond in Epping Forest will receive £11,000 towards the GROW Community Garden – an allotment project on land owned by Loughton Town Council.
- Stour Sailing Club in Manningtree will receive £10,000 to increase and improve access to sailing and rowing for a broad and increasing membership enjoying activities on the river with the purchase of a new floating dock.
Other successful CIF projects include new or improved children’s play areas, outdoor gyms and fitness trails, village hall improvements including energy efficiency improvements, sport and leisure club provisions, well-being and counselling initiatives and educational projects.
Projects are selected by a diverse panel of local representatives who work together to identify the most worthwhile projects and allocate funding. Any remaining funds are allocated for community time critical projects (CIF Response).
Nick Shuttleworth, Executive Director, Rural Community Council of Essex, added: “Over the past ten years, CIF has made a huge contribution to help strengthen and sustain community life throughout Essex.
"In the rural areas, I know it has helped numerous charities, voluntary groups and parish councils to upgrade and modernise key facilities such as village halls, playing fields and play areas. It has also supported the creation of new groups and activities which have improved the quality of life for people of all ages. Essex County Council deserves great credit for creating and maintaining this vitally important fund.”
The application process for the next round of CIF is expected to be open from April 2017