Community groups ‘so grateful’ for fund’s donations

City midfielders Louis Thompson (left) and Kenny McLean (right) with The Feed chief executive Matt T

City midfielders Louis Thompson (left) and Kenny McLean (right) with The Feed chief executive Matt Townsend and Lucy Webb Picture: Aviva - Credit: Aviva

Across East Anglia, scores of community projects are benefiting from a charitable fund which aims to change lives in the voluntary sector.

Blossom logo

Blossom logo - Credit: Archant

A social enterprise and charity that helps people with barriers to employment has received a £5,000 boost to its training investment plan.

The Feed in Norwich is one of scores of grassroots projects to receive grant aid this year from the Aviva Community Fund.

A delighted Lucy Webb, corporate fundraiser with the Feed team, said: 'We aim to help people who have problems getting into work. They might be homeless, at risk of homelessness, have alcohol or drug addictions, or they have been to prison.

'We aim to help them overcome these issues and get them back into work.'

Emily Fisk, a Science Communicator at Cambridge Science Centre, looking at a model of the inner ear

Emily Fisk, a Science Communicator at Cambridge Science Centre, looking at a model of the inner ear at last year's Deaf Festival at The Forum Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The Feed's route to gainful employment is via its new café premises on Prince of Wales Road where trainees work in the kitchen or help with the catering business.

Part of the portfolio is the Feed's on site training academy, which aims to replicate a catering standard kitchen. 'We're so grateful for the grant,' said Lucy.

'We'll be using the money from Aviva to buy more equipment for the academy kitchen, so we can offer our trainees the experience of working in a commercial kitchen environment.'

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Last year, the Feed trained 40 people and is now aiming for 100 people to go through its training courses, with a forecast 30 successful outcomes – people who are ready for employment, further education or volunteering. It plans also to provide other community groups with 500 meals a year.

Norwich and Norfolk Goalball Club Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich and Norfolk Goalball Club Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Similarly, in Eye, the Blossom charity is working with teenagers across north Suffolk to support their wellbeing and future confidence.

'The aim is to impact on all areas of their lives: communication, self-esteem, ability to adapt and be flexible, co-operate and take risks, all of which will be needed in the fast paced society within which we live,' said volunteer, coach and fundraiser Jackie Ordish.

A welcome donation of just under £5,000 from Aviva's community fund will help Blossom to develop its 'This is Me' programme, designed specifically for teens in Years 9 and 10, who are struggling to find a sense of direction in their lives.

Jackie explained: 'These sessions are invaluable as the teens are able to share their inner thoughts and discuss anything that may get in the way of them being their best self. The programme will be complemented with three one-on-one coaching sessions with an experienced coach.

'By working on understanding who we are, what is special about us, how we work with others and what we are passionate about, the programme will help develop a sense of purpose and direction and importantly self-confidence so that the teens are able to make the right choices for themselves.'

Jude Brooks, from the Aviva Community Fund team, added: 'Wherever you look, people are working hard to make their local area a better place to live, and our fund is about sharing skills, knowledge and connections to help build stronger communities together. At Aviva, we're proud to be playing our part in supporting the change-makers who work so hard to make a difference in their local area.'

Another of the 72 community projects in East Anglia to benefit this year from the fund is the Norfolk Summer Deaf Festival, a voluntary group which works in partnership with deaf services in the region to provide a day of celebration while signposting accessible advice, guidance and support about services and opportunities for all people with a hearing loss and their families and friends.

Claire Gebbett, one of the organisers, said this year's festival – on May 24-25 at The Forum in Norwich – would also include arts workshops with a special visit by staff from London's Globe Theatre who have been working on short films for the deaf, outlining the plots of Shakespeare's plays. Norwich Arts Centre and The Garage will also be putting on deaf-accessible shows.

'We couldn't do all that we plan to do without the £1,000 donation from Aviva,' said Claire. 'We're hoping to get about 500 people on both days – it's two days for the first time – and we're still fundraising to ensure a full and diverse programme.'

From hearing difficulties to the visually impaired, Norfolk and Norwich Goalball teams meet regularly at City College to play an inclusive team game and meet other people with sight problems.

Aviva has donated £1,000 to help the group to buy new equipment and fund hire of the hall to enable them to continue playing. It is hoped the money will also enable the committee to take teams to tournaments across the country.

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