Monday, 19 August 2013

Celebrating Local Community Spirit

One of the things that always strikes me about Elmbridge is the unique sense of civic pride and an abundant source of people willing to give up their time to help make their neighbourhood and a better place to live.
When I became the local MP, I joined together with a local group of people and the Community Foundation for Surrey to set up the Esher Neighbourhood Fund (ENF). The idea was to support communities that tend to get neglected, masked by  the overall affluence of the borough. There are areas of social deprivation across Elmbridge – from Molesey to Cobham. But, too often, the funding formula from central government overlooks such small ‘pockets’ amidst high average levels of wealth.

Whilst I continue to fight for fairer local funding from Whitehall, I also want to help galvanise these local efforts in some way, however modest. The ENF built on the great community spirit in Lower Green in Esher, looking to raise funds for things like activities for youngsters and support for young Mums. We have just hit our target of raising £100,000 – with matched funding from NESTA – for Lower Green Community Association, as reported here, which can now bid for grants for worthy neighbourhood initiatives. This is a great achievement, and I take my hat off to John Jessop the outgoing Chairman of the ENF,  Wendy Varcoe at the Community Foundation for Surrey, and all those involved in Lower Green.
However, the idea was never intended to be limited to any one local neighbourhood. Having notched up some success in Lower Green, the ENF team are looking to expand the initiative. We want to expand the ENF into a wider community fund that serves local neighbourhoods. We are looking for people with expertise in fund-raising (including encouraging bequests), networking skills that can be put to use in the local area, and leadership – including a new Chair to lead the revised fund panel. We have a great team already, but as we re-design the scope and remit of the original ENF, there is an opportunity to get new people involved with additional skills, expertise and enthusiasm.

If you feel you might have something to offer, whether as a volunteer, Panel member or even Chair, please drop me a line at 

Dom joins Jenny French, John Jessop, Wendy Varcoe and local youngsters
at Lower Green Community Association
to Celebrate the ENF raising £100k


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