Small voluntary sector organisations facing financial difficulties and projects which will help Hertsmere communities get back on their feet following lockdown could be eligible for £57,000 of funding, it was announced this week.
At their meeting on Wednesday (10 June), our Executive backed a proposal to award an additional £10,000 to the existing pot of £39,500 set aside for community grants in 2020/21, and supplement it with £7,215 of unallocated funding from 2019/20 bringing the total to £56,815. Just under half of the funding, £25,000, will be used to support small charities, voluntary and community groups facing financial difficulties because of a loss of income, while the rest will be used to support projects aimed at helping the community recover after lockdown.
Examples of projects which could benefit are those which support community cohesion, provide debt or financial advice or support the wellbeing of vulnerable groups. The first stream of funding will be open for allocation from this month and the rest will be released at a later date.
Cllr Caroline Clapper, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Health and Culture, said: "We wanted to recognise the exceptional circumstances that we find ourselves in and the enormous pressure placed on charities and voluntary organisations in our borough because of coronavirus and its devastating impact on people’s lives.
"As the world emerges out of lockdown, our residents will continue to need help and support to operate in the 'new normal' and the role of volunteers will be as vital as it has been during lockdown.
“As a council, we have always supported our voluntary and community groups. As well as community grants, we are committed to supporting the voluntary sector in 2020/21 with more than £350,000 of core funding grants to Citizens Advice Hertsmere and ten other key local organisations.
“I’m very grateful to the voluntary organisations for all they have done and all they continue to do.”
In addition, she called on councillors to award their 2020/21 allocation of Ward Improvement Initiative Scheme funding to charities and organisations which have seen an increase in demand during the pandemic. They are Borehamwood, Potters Bar and Bushey Foodbanks, St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge, Hertfordshire Mind Network, Homestart (Hertsmere), Communities 1st, Gratitude and local lunch clubs and drop-in services, which though closed have undertaken regular welfare calls to their members, many of whom are vulnerable and self-isolating.
Councillors are allocated £500 each of WIIS funding to support projects of their choice in their wards. The WIIS scheme was temporarily suspended when the lockdown was announced and will re-open later this month.
Cllr Clapper said: “The coronavirus pandemic and the effects of the lockdown have disproportionately affected the elderly, vulnerable and those living in deprivation within our borough, as it has across the world.
“The support provided by these organisations has been a lifeline at this time for so many people. They have literally saved lives and for that we are eternally grateful.
“Now the WIIS scheme will shortly re-open, I am calling on councillors to use their WIIS funding to recognise the enormous contribution these organisations have made to our community and help them help more people in need.”
Plans to establish a community lottery in Hertsmere, which will eventually support the council’s partnership agreements, grants programme and WIIS, are moving forward after the scheme was approved by councillors last month.
Once established the scheme will help local good causes benefit from funds raised via online ticket sales.
Posted on Wednesday 17th June 2020