Community groups are being given the opportunity to receive a share of a fantastic £250,000.
The News has joined up with the Big Lottery Fund to launch The News Cash for Communities.
The programme is giving not-for-profit community clubs, schools, health projects and parish and town councils the chance to receive a grant from £10,000 to a massive £30,000.
Any group which meets the requirements can be entered and can be from Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport, Waterlooville and Fareham.
It also includes Emsworth, Hayling Island, Rowlands Castle, Cowplain, Denmead, Cosham, Southsea, Portchester, Titchfield, Locks Heath, Park Gate, Swanwick and Warsash.
The News Cash for Communities is launching today and will continue for the next few weeks.
It is aimed at encouraging communities to think about how funding could benefit their area and bring real improvements to the lives of local people.
Whether groups are looking to run classes to get people more physically active, turn a derelict site into a community garden or set up after-school cooking clubs, this funding can make the difference.
But it can also help with organising tea dances for isolated older people, train young people to become more employable or help your community get online and move forward with technology.
Mark Waldron, editor at The News, said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for people to think hard about how their community could be improved.
‘The sum of money on offer is amazing and in times like these, it is not often clubs and groups can receive so much.
‘Whether you’re a small group of six or a substantial group of 50, every bit of funding makes a difference.
‘With this amount, your group can have better equipment, invite more members or even carry on for another year.
‘We are really excited to be a part of this and help our communities grow and improve.’
Readers of The News get to pick and nominate groups they think are worthy.
An application form will be in the paper and readers can nominate any group before the closing date next month on August 4.
A shortlist of the best ideas will then be revealed in The News on September 16.
From this date, every day for two weeks, readers will have the chance to vote for the projects they would like to see get the cash.
The projects with the highest votes will be awarded the funding until all £250,000 of the Big Lottery Fund money has been spent.
The lucky winners will be announced on October 7.
Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund’s England director, said: ‘Through this partnership with The News, the Big Lottery Fund is making £250,000 available to support the spirit, imagination and aspirations of local people and communities.
‘It gives them the opportunity to do good in their neighbourhoods and to support people-powered change.
‘We know that it takes more than money to make big change happen in communities.
‘It’s the people, ideas and enthusiasm behind it that are important.
‘It give us all a sense of hope and optimism, particularly in difficult times.
‘Often funding like this simply serves as the tipping point to bring people and communities together to really make a difference
‘What’s great about The News Cash for Communities is that local people across Portsmouth and the surrounding areas will have the power to vote to decide which projects best meet local needs and receive vital funding to put their plans into action.’
The Big Lottery Fund has awarded more than £10.5m to Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport since 2006, with 311 projects receiving cash.
This included giving £9,650 to Pompey in the Community to organise physical and healthy living sessions to vulnerable and disadvantaged young people and adults.
The money extended their support network and encourage beneficiaries to make better life choices.
The fund also gave money to Cottage Grove Primary School, in Southsea, to run a programme of after-school multisports sessions for all year groups.
This promoted greater physical activity and health awareness among pupils.
The Big Lottery Fund is the largest distributor of National Lottery’s good cause funding, and is responsible for giving out 40 per cent of money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
The fund aims to bring improvements to the lives of people most in need.
It has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK.
Since June 2004, the Big Lottery Fund has awarded close to £6bn of Lottery cash.
CONNORS TOY LIBRARY
CONNORS Toy Libraries, in Portsmouth, has received £291,782 from the Big Lottery Fund to bring local communities together.
It provides a safe and secure environment for families to meet, make friends, enjoy a play session and borrow toys to stimulate and support their child’s development.
Parents are encouraged to run the libraries to become more active in their communities.
Through the grant, the expanding initiative will address isolation, depression, delayed development and low confidence among parents and children caused by new parenthood and deprivation.
Issues also include neglect, substance misuse, domestic abuse and mental health problems.
Karen Drayton, of Connors Toy Libraries, said: ‘Parents and carers come to Connors Toy Libraries as they like the open door approach where all families, childminders and other professionals caring for children are welcome.
‘The groups are run by parent volunteers, some that have needed support themselves, so can relate to vulnerable families needing a bit of extra support.’
From the charity’s 2011 annual survey of 124 parents, 50 per cent felt their parenting skills had improved, and 95 per cent felt their child’s confidence had grown.
The JOHN POUNDS CENTRE
THE John Pounds Centre, in Portsea, received a Big Lottery Fund grant of £7,015.
The community centre offers health services, social activities, education and advice on healthy lifestyles.
It has received a range of grants, including £250,000, with the most recent for a healthy lifestyle project.
The grant has helped to develop a range of services for residents of Portsmouth.
This includes working with the local medical centre in Portsea, offering individually tailored fitness programs with a team of trained staff and counselling sessions for people with long-term health needs.
Matt Mason, director of The John Pounds Centre, said: ‘Getting people to use the fitness suite at first was a challenge.
‘But by making the centre a welcoming place more people have joined.
‘We keep them coming by creating a friendly and supportive environment.’
TO APPLY for a grant you will need to be a community group, a not-for-profit group or a parish or town council.
Health bodies and schools can also be nominated.
Groups do not have to be a registered charity to apply.
One of the requirements is having a bank account that requires at least two people to sign each cheque or withdrawal.
You must also be in a position to use the grant within one year.
So, what are you waiting for?
Applications will be accepted until August 4.
A shortlist will then be made on September 16 with readers of The News being able to vote for their favourites.
There will also be the chance for readers to see exactly what the money will be spent on for two weeks after September 16.
The groups with the highest votes will be announced on October 7.
Applications and more information on the grants and the necessary requirements are available from hantscf.org.uk
They are also available by calling 01256 776109