December 2019 saw the launch of the Essex Local Delivery Pilot (ELDP) Microgrants programme, and due to its success within local communities, an evaluation report has been produced to consider what we have learnt and to inform future decision making.
The LDP focuses on tackling physical inactivity in the pilot areas of Basildon, Colchester and Tendring, and as part of this Microgrant programme, £200,000 has been allocated to fund 121 projects. Essex is one of 12 LDPs across the country, working towards unlocking something ground-breaking and finding solutions to increase activity levels in a replicable and sustainable way.
The Microgrants programme is a small grants fund offering £50 to £2,500 to local people and organisations who have a great idea, a drive, and a passion to help get their communities active. The grant was designed to help enable community groups to easily access funding to implement their ideas.
The types of projects that that have been funded through the LDP Microgrant programme include start up projects, small community groups, voluntary groups and NFP organisations. From gardening to yoga and self-defence to walking football, the LDP Microgrants programme has helped recipients of the fund provide communities with access to a wide range of physical activity opportunities.
In Basildon, Parents4Parents accessed funding to enable them to help provide tailored support to families suffering from a wide range of issues, including decreasing mental health and the current cost of living crisis. Parents4Parents have provided food parcels to attendees and have also given them the chance to relax and take part in yoga sessions at their centre of Basildon based location.
A Supporting Coordinator at Parents4Parents said that she was “excited and grateful to receive the grant and felt a strong sense of responsibility to ensure the money was used as best as possible.”
Together We Grow in Colchester, started as a small LDP microgrant investment and acted as a catalyst to leverage in further funding from the Clinical Commissioning Group and Essex County Council. Unlike traditional sports clubs or fitness sessions, Together We Grow aimed to use the funding to improve the lives of individuals by encouraging engagement with nature. The group also educated residents on how to grow their own food, helping to lead a healthier, happier, and a sustainable life.
Since receiving LDP microgrant funding, Together We Grow have expanded their two-acre garden in Highwoods country park and are working with local primary schools, children leaving care and adults from the age of 18, who are experiencing poor mental health. Read our full blog on Together We Grow on our website here.
Bert’s Belly Busters in Walton-on-the-Naze, Tendring, applied for LDP microgrant funding with the aim of encouraging movement and motivation for the whole family, which could be fun and enjoyable for all. In 2015, founder Roberta Meskell decided that she needed to do something for her mental wellbeing, so set up a Facebook page called Happy Motivators – a space where people could help, motivate, and support each other. After realising there were limited classes available for families to attend together in the local area, Roberta wanted to change this.
After receiving the funding, she said; “For me this is just the beginning, my passion keeps on growing. Bert’s Belly Busters Family Bounce is finally something we can all do together!” Since receiving LDP funding, Bert’s Belly Busters has also been successfully awarded Find Your Active funding to help further impact the community. Read the blog post here and watch the video here.
Amelia Hall, Active Essex Intelligence Manager stated; “Overall, the LDP Microgrant programme has been a success having a positive impact on recipients, their communities, and the system. Even though the application process was designed to be easy it seems there are still some loopholes in the process that need to be ironed out.
The use of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach has meant that the right audiences have been targeted with evidence of their activity levels increasing. There are signs that the issues of social isolation and loneliness have started to improve, through increased community cohesion and positive wellbeing.
The building of citizen-led healthier, safer, and more inclusive communities from the ground up, shows that that groups and people are ‘assets’ and have the potential to positively affect the community, it just needs to be unlocked.”
The LDP Microgrant programme will continue to inform our funding processes and the use of an ABCD approach going forward. We have already seen this take place through the second round of Find Your Active funding, helping to ensure communities can access small grants in an easy, but effective manner, placing communities at the heart of what we do.
For more information and to read the Microgrants evaluation report, click here.