Mid Suffolk communities receive close to £1 million in grants
Mid Suffolk District Council awarded community grants totalling £996,855 in the 2020/21 financial year – supporting the district’s Covid response and enabling improvements to local community venues and sports and leisure facilities.
During the year, council officers have worked with clubs and organisations in the district to identify need and ensure that vital grant funding has made a real difference to Mid Suffolk’s communities.
The council has also acknowledged the key role of community groups, along with town and parish councils, in easing the challenges faced by residents during coronavirus, and a new dedicated Covid-19 Emerging Needs Grant opened last May to help the district through the peak of the pandemic.
More than 60 organisations benefitted from over £100,000 in funding, including good neighbour schemes, foodbanks and community outreach projects.
Gina Saunders, employee of grant recipient Suffolk Accident Rescue Service said, “Our volunteer clinicians are now operating in an extremely challenging environment due to the virus and we are doing our best to continue to reach critically ill and injured patients. We are really grateful for the extra support from Mid Suffolk District Council, this will make a big difference.”
Tom Barker, Assistant Director for Sustainable Communities commented: “I am immensely grateful to the groups and organisations who have pulled together to look after Mid Suffolk’s most vulnerable residents or helped those hit hardest financially by Covid-19. Our council’s grant scheme has hopefully provided comfort to many while the virus and its aftermath remains.”
A new Covid-19 Recovery Grant, set to be launched next month, will allow this crucial support to continue and enable communities to safely return to normality following the further easing of restrictions.
The pandemic also highlighted the importance of securing bright and healthy futures for Mid Suffolk residents, with grant funding approved for walking routes, leisure equipment and local sports clubs over the past twelve months.
This includes over £50,000 in Section 106 funding – collected from developers when they build new homes in the district – towards new play areas in Badwell Ash and Elmswell, along with capital grants of £36,500 for Mid Suffolk tennis clubs and a £2,000 discretionary grant to establish a new ParkRun at Chilton Fields.
Elmswell also benefitted from Section 106 funding of £76,585 to facilitate the extension of the village’s Blackbourne Centre – providing five different spaces for community use to accommodate a wide range of needs.
Numerous other community venues across Mid Suffolk received funding for much-needed improvement works, with £28,000 in capital grants approved for Haughley’s Ron Crascall Pavilion – forming a key part of the project to regenerate and revitalise King George’s Field.
The Museum of East Anglian Life – Suffolk’s largest independent museum, set in 75 acres of beautiful Stowmarket countryside – also received a capital grant of £18,400 towards various improvement works to support its community-focused initiatives, whilst the town’s community centre secured £17,340 in Section 106 grants to fund accessibility improvements.
In addition to grants to improve facilities, the council allocated over £229,000 in revenue funding to support charities serving Mid Suffolk residents, including Community Action Suffolk, Homestart, Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice, Rural Coffee Caravan and Lighthouse Womens Aid, among others.
Tom Barker, Assistant Director for Sustainable Communities said: “This has been a record year for grant funding, with all areas seeing an increase in spend compared to 2019/20.
“I am delighted that council grants will provide the facilities needed for our communities to thrive, both now and in future – meeting our ambition for Mid Suffolk to continue to be somewhere that everyone is proud to call home.”
Smaller community projects received a funding boost from Locality Awards – allowing Mid Suffolk District Councillors to individually award grants within their ward – with 230 applications sharing a total of £217,934 during the year.