Foundation grants boost Swindon groups

By Ben Fitzgerald - 13 February 2020


Charity groups have been boosted with more than £100,000 of grants from the Wiltshire Community Foundation.

Among the recipients of the latest round of foundation grants is the Renew Men’s Shed in Penhill, which has been given £10,000 over two years towards the cost of employing manager Kevin Prosser.

The group, based at Chippenham Close Community Centre, is aimed at giving retired or isolated people somewhere to go to practise or learn woodworking and upholstery skills.

The group, which runs four sessions a week, has up to ten people along at each session but numbers are growing. It has also started working with the National Trust in to host upcycling workshops.

Mr Prosser said: “Members or those attending the community centre will make friends and feel less isolated and this helps prevent poor mental health. It gives the shedders a sense of value and purpose, often lost in older men when they retire.”

Out of the Can, a youth group aimed at LGBTQ+ youngsters aged between 13 and 19. It has been given £10,000 over two years to fund a youth worker to extend their reach into Wiltshire and to provide training for schools and others on supporting LGBT young people.

The group runs two weekly youth sessions in Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett, where more than 50 young people meet to play games and chat. There is also a regular Saturday pop-up café in Swindon.

Trustee Jo Sharpe said: “It allows them to be themselves, meet likeminded people in a safe space, the group allows them to grow and develop without fear of judgement.

“Our provision in Wootton Bassett is aimed at reaching out to young people that come from the rural areas of Wiltshire, where they often feel more isolated, because of the lack of exposure to the LGBTQ+ communities that are in larger town and cities These young people will often feel unable to come out because of the rural traditions that are usually, close, cliquey, and religious.”

Youth mentoring charity STEP Swindon has been awarded £4,853 to fund staff and running costs at its base in Nythe. The service works in partnership with Swindon Borough Council to provide ‘therapeutic interventions’ – ten-week programmes that help young people from families struggling with a range of issues including severe poverty, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

The group, which has been in the town for more than 20 years, works with more than 400 young people a year.

Parkinson’s UK Swindon has been given £2,500 to hep fund fitness classes for its 65 members. The group, which has been running for 40 years, organises walking football, Tai Chi, Parkinson's dance, seated exercise classes and balance and exercise sessions.

The group says research shows that regular exercise slows the effects of the disease and combats loneliness among its members who relish the chance to catch up with friends at the classes.

DASH Swindon has been given £10,000 over two years to find six social groups for members with Asperger’s and other autistic spectrum conditions. The social groups provide somewhere to meet and socialise, as well as teach new skills.

Each group has a different focus and target audience –young adults, men’s, women’s and young women’s. There is also a monthly social group and an allotment group.

Trustee Richard Parrett said: “There are no existing groups or other services that can meet the needs of adults with Asperger’s or high-functioning autism. Our members have told us that other groups providing general social activities place too many sensory demands on them. The groups lack understanding of the particular needs of people on the spectrum, so they end up feeling at odds with other members of the group.”

The Pinehurst Initiative Forum was given £4,975 towards the cost of a community fun day and Swindon Women’s Aid received £2,360 for staff training and printer costs.

Last year the Wiltshire Community Foundation gave £1.1 million in grants to group and individuals in Wiltshire and Swindon. Chief Executive Rosemary Macdonald said: “I am so pleased with the diverse range of groups we’ve been able to fund and the wide range of needs they are tackling, from young and older people to those with disabilities and real challenges in their lives.

“We exist to be a means of funding for groups making a real difference to people in Wiltshire and these grants show that we are fulfilling our mission.”

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