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In November 2021 Warwickshire County Council launched a £1 million fund to harness the power of communities in tackling inequality and social exclusion. 

Our county has a great tradition of stepping forward to meet big challenges, this has been shown time and time again throughout the Pandemic as people and organisations have worked together to support those most at risk and look out for the wellbeing of those around us. 

The spirit of community power is alive and well in Warwickshire and the Warwickshire Social Impact Fund will help to continue and sustain this community powered approach, helping communities to step forward out of the Pandemic. 

The fund was launched to enable targeted interventions to support Warwickshire’s communities, and community-based support for those disproportionately impacted by COVID. This may include extending or introducing specialist support or providing additional community-based support where the effects of COVID are felt more keenly. 

The fund will support community projects and initiatives that aim to promote inclusion - specifically, around financial, digital, health, social and cultural inclusion. The focus on financial inclusion will be especially helpful to residents experiencing pressure on household budgets at the present time. 

£400,000 of the funding is being invested in capital projects, providing long-term increases in community capacity and sustainable impact. 

The fund is closely aligned to the Council’s refreshed Council Plan and reflects the principles of reducing social inequality as set out in the Levelling Up White Paper 2022. 

Applications were invited from voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations, and Town and Parish Councils. 

All applications received were scored, with a positive weighting given to those that benefit areas that have experienced higher COVID rates, and areas of the county that experience multiple levels of deprivation. 

The fund was administered by Heart of England Community Foundation on behalf of Warwickshire County Council. 

Beneficiaries of Warwickshire Social Impact Fund 

Alcester Town Council 

Funding to sustain weekly meetings of the Crafty Lunch Club, a safe and supportive meeting place for adults with learning difficulties or disabilities and/or physical disabilities. Those accessing the club can socialise, be creative and take part in group games and gentle exercise. It also provides a space for carers to meet and have respite. 

Brunswick Healthy Living Centre 

Funding to sustain and improve the efficiency of an existing food bank and holistic advice service. Additional staff capacity will enable those accessing the food bank to receive quick and effective referrals to existing projects and services within the centre, but also to external agencies such as social services, to improve their situations in the longer term. 

Home Start South Warwickshire 

A pilot project offering support for pregnant women and new mothers in Leamington. 4 key areas of support: antenatal group for women 32-38 weeks of pregnancy, 1:1 home visiting for ante and post-natal parents, a PEEPs group (a nationally recognised parent and child development programme) for parents with babies aged 6-12 weeks, and a PEEPs group for parents with babies aged 12-18 weeks. 

Hope 4 the Community (Community Interest Company) 

Funding to expand an existing programme of self-management support for people living with long COVID in response to high demand from across Warwickshire. The programme will deliver a model of support that will include teaching on how to manage long COVID symptoms, support in goal setting and managing setbacks and the provision of peer support and online engagement with health professionals and voluntary and community sector groups. 

INSIGHT Counselling, Coaching & Support Services 

Funding to increase staff capacity so the charity can respond to an increase in referrals from families with caring responsibilities for a child with a physical, sensory, or developmental disability. Focusing on Nuneaton and Bedworth, interventions will include tailored support to equip participants with coping strategies and methods of conflict resolution, wider access to counselling, parent led support groups, and linking to other agencies to reduce isolation. 

Sky Blues in the Community 

Development of a Dementia Active programme focusing on Nuneaton, Bedworth, and Warwick. Two weekly sessions will be delivered in two locations to 50 men living with dementia and their carers. Activities will promote self-care, tackle depression and low confidence and build support networks, mental and physical fitness, and a sense of identity for those involved. 

Springfield MIND 

A project to utilise a new relationship with the Gurdwara Sahib in Leamington Spa, to reach out to members of the local Sikh community around mental health issues. A mental health practitioner will assist in improving awareness of poor mental health from within this community and deliver tailored support to improve mental well-being, reduce isolation and improve the extent to which members of the Gurdwara look beyond friends and relations for support with mental health issues. 

The Parenting Project (Dads Matter) 

Funding to employ a project co-ordinator to undertake a range of activities including training at antenatal classes aimed specifically at dads, 1:1 support through referrals for those dads with poor mental health, feeling isolated, or lonely, signposting and referring to other services such as Perinatal Mental Health, Maternity, Health Visiting Service, voluntary and community sector groups, and men’s talking groups. Focusing on participants in Nuneaton and Bedworth and Stratford-on-Avon. 

Together for Change Coventry and Warwickshire (Saints Nuneaton) 

Funding for activities to support disadvantaged people across a range of ages, from mums with babies, to children (through an after-school club and kids’ breakfast programme), to families with mental health issues, to IT literacy classes for older residents. The ground floor of the premises will be used to provide support services and community engagement to individuals from vaccine hesitant parts of Nuneaton. It will also offer arts provision and counselling for those with long COVID.  

Warwickshire Counselling Service T/A Sycamore Counselling Service 

Counselling for children and young people who are experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem, and increased feelings of isolation resulting from the Pandemic, focusing on North Warwickshire and Nuneaton and Bedworth. Employment of a counsellor to ensure the charity can meet increasing demand and continue to take referrals for its existing work with children and young people. 

Warwickshire Welfare Rights Advice Service 

Funding for a full-time specialist benefits caseworker to work with vulnerable individuals to maximise household and individual incomes through the take up of in-work benefits and out of work benefits including long term sickness and disability benefits. Focusing on North Warwickshire and Nuneaton and Bedworth, the charity will carry out benefit checks and home visits and will assist people to complete any relevant benefit application forms. It will also advise on the relevant self-employed and employee furlough/COVID grant schemes where there is a benefit dimension. 

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 

The charity will deliver a wellbeing in nature programme for women with young families (fathers, grandparents, and carers also welcome) who are experiencing isolation, stresses surrounding parenting and social isolation, and who may have faced mental ill health resulting from the Pandemic, targeting participants from the Benn, Newbold, and Brownsover wards of Rugby. 

White Hart Community Groups 

Employment of a new part-time worker to develop two projects in Atherstone. Firstly, a group for individuals living with dementia and their carers. Secondly, a group (or groups) to reduce loneliness and isolation. Over 60 weeks the worker will undertake outreach for the groups and be responsible for convening and delivering them, with support from volunteers. Participants will experience improved mental health, build social connections and in the case of those living with dementia experience improved mood and memory. 

You Can Flourish 

Project to support girls and young women who have found their mental and physical wellbeing negatively affected by the Pandemic. Focusing on the Warwick and Leamington area the funding will enable girls and young women to receive flexible support and the chance to explore how they are feeling and access tools to build emotional resilience. The project will also enable the provision of the Rebuild programme in schools, and deliver the Home Hub, providing resources to bring parents together for mutual support. 

Young People First (Midlands) 

Holiday activities, signposting and practical support to vulnerable young people and their families in Brunswick ward, Leamington. Activities will begin in the Easter holidays of 2022 and be delivered during school holidays up until the end of Easter 2023. In addition to providing activities and day trips, pastoral support will be provided to young people, parents and carers who may be at risk or struggling. Appropriate signposting will take place to services such as Citizens Advice and foodbanks. 

Barford Youth & Community Centre 

Funding to demolish an existing scout hut and replace with a new building for use by a range of voluntary and community groups and benefiting residents from Barford and the surrounding villages. The new building will incorporate a suite of environmentally sustainable building solutions including highly insulated SIPS panels, photo voltaic cells and an air-source heat pump. 

Escape Community Art in Action 

Funding to construct a side extension to the 2014 modern front of the charity’s building in central Stratford, to create a more flexible and safer internal space and enabling the charity to offer more services to the community. 

St Peter & St John’s Church 

Refurbishment of the Church Hall and facilities in Eastlands ward, Rugby. Works including refurbishment of toilet and kitchen facilities and flooring. The works will enable additional community-based support via the groups using the facilities. 

The Boxing Clever Academy Ltd 

Extension and refurbishment to existing premises in central Nuneaton, enabling an “after COVID support programme” to expand and meet a clearly identified need within the local community. The company (social enterprise) uses boxing, sports recreation, life skills based training, and personal, social, and emotional development activities as a vehicle for community integration and social change. 

Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action 

Remedial and refurbishment costs for the Newtown Centre in central Nuneaton including replacement of the main pitched roof, new ceilings, a replacement heating system, refurbished washrooms and disabled and baby changing facilities, and improved security. The building plays a vital role as a multipurpose community facility. 

Warwickshire Independent Advocacy Alliance 

Part capital, part revenue project. The capital part is to provide a changing place toilet in the charity’s central Bedworth building, thereby expanding the potential range of building users. The revenue part is to employ a COVID recovery worker to work with local people to harness their skills and strengths to shape and deliver their own solutions to live safely with COVID. 

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