Cash pot is up for grabs for projects to improve city

Mark Smith of The Car Finance Company in Portsmouth
Mark Smith of The Car Finance Company in Portsmouth
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COMMUNITY-MINDED businesses are offering up to £20,000 to fund projects designed to benefit Portsmouth.

Groups and individuals can apply for the cash under the Friends in Finance scheme, which is being spearheaded by Mark Smith, managing director of the North End-based Car Finance Company.

Mr Smith, 45, of Old Portsmouth, said the projects could be anything from building a playground to funding a public event, anything which would help ‘make Portsmouth a better place’.

Mr Smith said applications would be judged by more than 300 employees at his company.

He said: ‘Points will be awarded for viability, responsibility, the impact it will have on people’s lives.

‘The bigger the positive impact it will have on the community the more points it is likely to get.’

Mr Smith said his original plan was to offer £10,000 to the winning project, £3,000 for second place and £1,000 for a third-placegetter.

However, after telling some business contacts about the plan, the firms Coffin Mew, KPMG and Shoosmiths decided to join in and add thousands more to the cash pot.

‘Anyone can apply,’ Mr Smith said. ‘It can be an individual, an organisation or a group, but not a business.’

Mr Smith said he wanted to encourage other businesses to get on board and join the funding scheme.

He said: ‘This will become an annual competition and hopefully it will be bigger every year.

‘It will help to make Portsmouth a better place’.

Mr Smith said he got the idea for the scheme after his firm was named 74th in a Sunday Times ranking of the country’s best companies to work for.

He said: ‘One of the things that came out of the survey behind that was a feeling among the staff that we could give more back to the community, so I put my entrepreneurial brain to how that could best be serviced.

‘Because the city has played such an important part in this company, it was an easy decision to focus the project within the Portsmouth community.’

To apply for funding for your charity or community group, you will need an application pack.

To get a pack, visit thecarfinancecompany.co.uk/Friends

Alternatively, write to Friends in Finance, The Car Finance Company, 47-51 Kingston Crescent, Portsmouth, PO2 8AA.

Please provide a name, e-mail address and postal address.

Application packs must be returned to The Car Finance Company by Monday, April 27, 2015.