North Walsham-based charity struggles on and plans re-enactment of bloodbath battle

Rebecca Matthews (right) buying home produced jam from Clare Mason of the Urban Soul Kitchen at a fo

Rebecca Matthews (right) buying home produced jam from Clare Mason of the Urban Soul Kitchen at a food festival organised by the Griffon Area Partnership last Christmas. - Credit: Archant

A re-enactment of a harrowing Peasants' Revolt battle is among the wished-for plans of a north Norfolk charity which is limping optimistically into the future after losing its funding.

Chiefs at the North Walsham-based Griffon Area Partnership believe their work is too important to be allowed to die.

Partnership manager Rebecca Matthews and two other members of staff spent six months without pay to ensure projects survived.

Griffon was one of seven north Norfolk Local Area Partnerships, aiming to regenerate their communities, funded through second homes council tax until the North Norfolk District Council Conservative administration decided to switch the cash to its new Big Society Fund, targeted at specific community projects.

David Gosling, Griffon's voluntary treasurer and administrator, said while the other six groups had fallen by the wayside, Griffon was struggling on, helped by a £1,000 grant from North Walsham Town Council.

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It had been asked by Norfolk County Council to take over the 40-year-old Friday Group in North Walsham which offers activities and a social occasion for people with disabilities, and this month it had also taken on a monthly support group for carers of people with dementia which had just lost its funding from the Alzheimer's Society. In addition, staff had ensured that Griffon's flagship weekly Voyager drop-in group, for people who would otherwise feel isolated, had kept going.

Griffon had been the only local body qualified to apply for the government's Mary Portas cash, aimed at helping North Walsham town centre, said Mr Gosling.

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It had secured £10,000 which the Town Team would spend on projects including a new 'cybertown' initiative which had seen businesses signing up for a website where they could advertise special offers. Pop-up shops, giving budding traders an affordable chance to sell their wares, were also planned.

Mrs Matthews said Griffon was also applying for funding to support Voyager in the future, and for other projects, including a re-enactment by primary school children of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt battle which saw a possible 600-650 people slaughtered in and around North Walsham parish church.

She hoped it could be staged at next year's North Walsham Fun Day and, together with a DVD produced by local historians and a teacher, would act as a fun, stimulating and educational way of teaching children about a little-known but important part of the town's history.

Griffon is also hoping to hear shortly about European funding for a project to produce a local history website, accessible from phones with 3G capability.

She said Griffon's role as the mainstay of bodies like Voyager, the Friday Group and the carers' support group, was vital in communities struggling with funding cuts.

'We are providing an important service,' she said. 'People who feel isolated are more likely to turn to the NHS if they're lonely and unhappy.'

Mr Gosling said that after six months as 'vagrants' following the loss of their Vicarage Street base, staff would shortly be moving into an office on Mitre Tavern Yard, North Walsham.

He added: 'We do some really worthwhile projects and we don't want to let people down who are part of them. We're squirreling away money where we can but we're not in any way safe yet.'

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