Saturday, 17 January 2015

Elmbridge Community Fund

I have blogged previously, here, about local efforts to develop the Esher Neighbourhood Fund, to support the Lower Green Community. Having raised around £100,000 to start a fund yielding an income that can be used to offer grants for local projects in Lower Green, we have been discussing how to take the concept forward and expand it across the borough of Elmbridge.

The inspiration has been the strong evidence, charted by the Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS), here, of pockets of deprivation in an otherwise relatively affluent borough. These pockets are often overlooked because of their scale, and we want to do something as a community to support them. If it's tough as a family or individual getting by on modest means, it's even tougher if you're surrounded by high levels of wealthy people and homes.

The issues arising - from neighbourhoods in Molesey to Walton to Cobham - include child poverty, lack of facilities or public transport nearby, inaccessibility of training, and the elderly living in isolation or with significant long-term health conditions. 

So, the architects of the Esher fund - including myself, Wendy Varcoe at the CFS and local volunteers - took some time to think through the challenges of scaling up our initial success in Lower Green. Yesterday, we launched the Elmbridge Community Fund, having expanded our Panel to include a range of new people with different skills and living in different communities across the borough. It's being chaired by Richard Waller, who - together with Nigel Abbott - helped drive the fund-raising for Claygate's new club house on the recreation ground. Rob Moran at Elmbridge Council has also got involved to make sure we complement  what the council is doing. 

The aim is to build up a permanent fund that can sustainably yield an income, to be made available to local community groups who can apply for grants. We are working in partnership with the wonderful range of existing charities - including big players like Walton charity, and smaller organisations - and we hope that the ECF can become a lightening rod for philanthropic giving, and a beacon of support for local community initiatives.

We need your help to build up the fund. The early stages will be the most challenging. So, please drop me a line if you may be interested in supporting this important new initiative, or want to hear more about it.


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