Sarah Taylor, from Tonge UCAN Centre, is involved with administering an investment fund of up to £1million from Big Local, a charitable trust which was established by Local Trust and the Big Lottery Fund. The funding was allocated, not applied for, and the two-and-a half-year plan was approved in October 2015. Sarah, who works as a Community Development Officer (CDO) for Bolton at Home (BAH), will be employed full-time as a CDO by Big Local, until 2018. BAH is the local fund organiser.
£80,000 has been spent in the last 18 months and a number of very worthwhile activities have taken place or are in progress or planning, including: a ‘Big Community Event’ in 2016, after-school youth provision for Castle Hill primary school/youth centre, a play program and upgrading of a local sports facility.
A program called ‘Community Chest’ enabled many local groups to apply for funding of up to £500 and a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel of judges selected a number of local start-up businesses to receive funding and other help to enable them to grow and develop. In the next year the Trust will continue helping with current projects and developing links between them, to their mutual benefit, and will continue to support local groups.
Sarah would like to build up the number of residents involved in helping with the projects and to develop a number of themed groups, for example Health & Well Being, and facilities, activities and events based around a core theme of education, employment and training. Open meetings for residents to share ideas and suggestions are also planned.
“We aim to focus very much on the needs of the community” said Sarah, “we want to know what local residents believe could makes things better – as well as highlighting and further developing what is already good and already being done.”
One of the projects that has become very popular and highly-valued by local residents, young and old, is the Kitchen Gardens, a free food-growing project for the community, on land owned by BAH, which aims to grow a wide variety of fruits, and vegetables. Sessions here are focused on getting children interested in food-growing and healthy eating. For this project Sarah is ably assisted by three volunteers who are all local residents: Rebecca Moden, Wanda Taylor and Alexandra Worswick. A visit to the site gave some insight into what has already been achieved and what is possible, despite the relatively small size of the plot.
The rapport between Sarah and her three volunteer colleagues during what could be described as a ‘sit-com photo-shoot’ gave an indication of how much the four enjoy working together and also their dedication to this and other projects that are bringing very positive benefits to the community.