Norfolk community groups urged to apply for share of unclaimed �450,000

Community groups and charities across Norfolk are being urged to apply for a share of a funding pot of nearly �500,000.

Last year, Norfolk Community Foundation gave out �1.1m to more than 600 voluntary and community groups across the county.

But last night, its director Graham Tuttle said it still had a further �450,000 to donate. That includes �200,000 in a community fund set up by Norfolk County Council and �100,000 in an innovation fund, which looks to fund new ways of delivering services.

Mr Tuttle said there was a further �50,000 in the Sheringham Shoal Community Fund, set up by wind farm developer Scira to fund environmental projects in North Norfolk.

Money is also available in number of other funds administered by the foundation.

Corporate donations to the foundation have increased, as businesses begin to see an an end to the recession.

'Businesses seem to be more confident this year about the state of the economy and the fact that they've been focusssed on their business for the last three years,' said Mr Tuttle.

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'More of them are now looking to get engaged with the community again and get involved in local projects.'

But Mr Tuttle said the charitable sector had 'gone quiet' - possibly because groups believed funding streams had fallen victim to the downturn.

'My sense is a lot of charities are very inward looking at the moment,' he said. 'There is money there to help.'

Parish councils are among those who could qualify for grants for community projects, along with youth groups, lunch clubs and village halls.

Jenny Bevan, grants officer with the Norwich-based foundation, said: 'We have got a record breaking amount to give away this year, that's all down to the generosity of our donors.

'It's available to community groups, it's available to registered and unregistered charities.

'That opens up parish councils, it opens up lots of organisations. Our donors are more interested in getting to the root of the community.

'Our USP is to serve the county. We look at issues here like rural isolation and the poor infrastructure.'

One group which successfully applied for a grant was the Corpusty and Saxthorpe Luncheon Club in North Norfolk, which provides a monthly lunch for up to 35 older people, along with other services including transport to hospital appointments and prescription collection.

A �1,400 grant from the community foundation helped them buy a hot cupboard, grill, slow cooker and additional crockery, cutlery and glassware.

It has since made the group a further award to purchase a freezer and dishwasher.

'If groups have the right infrastructure in place, applying for a grant is fairly easy and I would recommend other organisations to apply,' said organiser Lynne Norrington. 'Officers at the foundation are helpful and happy to give guidance.'

Hevingham Laurel Club provides a social and luncheon club for up to 50 elderly residents in Hevingham and the surrounding area of Broadland. For some, it provides them with their only meal not eaten alone, as well as organising outings. It turned to the foundation for help with the cost of training its volunteers and was awarded �500 to cover the cost of basic first aid and food hygiene training.

Horsford Village Hall was given a grant towards the cost of a new games area and improvements to the hall.

Sports groups which have been helped by the foundation include West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled and King's Lynn-based Kandoo Club, a sports club for young disabled people aged 8 - 18.

The foundation also replaced lost tents and cooking equipment lost by the 21st King's Lynn Scout Group when its equipment store was broken into.

'We try and keep it simple and accessible, we realise not everyone's great at filling in forms,' said Ms Bevan.

'We want to give people the confidence to pick up the phone an talk to us. We're more than happy to listen to what they're doing and see if we can help them.'

One recent success for the foundation was the Surviving Winter Appeal, run in partnership with Age UK Norfolk and the EDP.

It raised more than �50,000, which helped hundreds of the county's most vulnerable elderly people to heat their homes.

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