Breckland groups are �24,000 better off thanks to grants

Schools, sports clubs, drama groups and charities are among 23 Breckland organisations which have been given grants worth a total of �24,000.

So far �6,000 has been awarded to groups in each of four different communities in the district with a further �6,000 still to be handed out by a panel in Swaffham.

The money has come from the Breckland Partnership and Norfolk Police through the participatory budgeting scheme, which is in its second year. Recipients in Attleborough, Dereham, Thetford, Watton and their surrounding villages have now been chosen.

The Attleborough Players will use a �1,066 grant to buy costumes and equipment, hire a hall and stage three performances, while �1,800 will allow Dereham's Friday Youth Club to buy a television, games console and laptop.

In Watton, the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind (NNAB), which recently opened an information and equipment drop-in centre at Wayland House, will use its �800 to fund the service. Centre manager Dorothy Bowen said: 'People can now pop in and get the expert advice they need while they are out doing their shopping.'

Area panels representing each of the communities, whose members included town and parish councillors, faith leaders, and police, assessed all of their town and villages' bids.

In Dereham, the panel was also responsible for choosing the winners while elsewhere members of the public were asked to vote for their favourites from a shortlist.

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More than 200 people took the chance to have their say and decide which projects should be supported.

Adrian Stasiak, Breckland council's member for communities, said the grants would make a real difference to the 23 groups and organisations.

He added: 'Having local people assessing the projects coming forward for their area is crucial. They are the best people to judge which projects will meet local priorities.'

The Swaffham area panel will meet to discuss a shortlist of 11 projects on March 24 when representatives will explain why they should get the funding.

So far grants have been awarded to:

n Attleborough area – Attleborough Players, �1,066; Connaught Hall, �1,000; Attleborough Archives, �500; Eccles Hargham and Wilby School, �769; The Lighthouse Group, �665; Attleborough Boxing Club, �2,000.

n Dereham area: Wensum Valley Trust, �285; Friday Youth Club, �1,800; Swanton Morley Rovers Football Club, �500; Bawdeswell Parish Council, �1,225; Hoe and Worthing Parish, �690; Weasenham Recreation Ground, �1,300; Saturday Fun Club, �200.

n Thetford area: Benjamin Foundation, �2,000; Chilzone Youth Club, �2,000; Thetford Community Association, �1,000; St John Ambulance, �500; Active Norfolk, �500.

n Wayland area: Project Rainbow, �2,000; Youth and Community Centre Users Group, �800; NNAB, �800; St John Ambulance, �1,300; The Colin MacKenzie Centre, �1,100.