By Gareth Hughes, National Lottery Community Fund’s developing local knowledge officer
Today I was delighted to deliver some good news to Parciau Bowling Club – £5,000 worth of good news.
As part of our Surprise Lottery Letter campaign, I turned up unexpectedly at the Club in Wrexham to tell them their Awards for All application was successful so they will soon be purchasing equipment needed to keep their green lush.
Why did we pick Parciau for this surprise? Well a few weeks ago whilst at an event in Wrexham, I met some of the committee members from the bowling club for the first time. Ironically I met them at an event, the Wrexham Third Sectors Managers Forum where our Director in Wales John Rose was sharing our vision about our future direction as a fund and the details of our Strategic Framework.
At the heart of this is our vision that people should be in the lead in improving their lives and communities. What people bring to the table, not what they don’t have; and a strong belief that people and communities are best placed to solve their problems, take advantage of opportunities, and rise to challenges. Our job as a funder is to support them in doing so.
There are many ways in which we can and are putting people in the lead in communities across Wales. One of the key principles also embedded in the framework is to be a catalyst for others. That we listen to, learn from, act on and facilitate the things that matter to people, communities and our partners.
After listening to this vision, Parciau was fairly open and honest with us. They said that all they really wanted and needed was a new lawn mower and scarifier. Scarifier, you ask, yes that’s the thing that does the nice lines like in Wimbledon and on football pitches! We suggested Awards for All to them, as a means of funding such equipment, but they felt that the paperwork was a barrier to them applying.
They also had some concerns, about the perception that you have to dress applications up. So a simple request for some equipment wouldn’t meet our requirements. It always makes me feel a little disappointed when groups don’t think they can access our small grants programme. After all it’s community builders, not wordsmiths we should really be looking to fund.
Having listened to Parciau, I spoke to Heather Hicks Funding Advice Officer at Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (AVOW). Heather has been at AVOW for more than a decade, and she’s a real catalyst for others, last year alone she helped secure funding totalling £1.5 million for community groups and organisations in Wrexham. From talking to Heather, it became apparent that good things happened at Parciau Bowling Club: they provided bowling sessions for a local mental health charity, with participants benefiting from targeted sessions.
They worked in partnership with local schools, who used the facilities, getting young people involved in the club, they had a veteran’s team, reducing social isolation and improving quality of life. And of course coming together for a game of bowls, supports community cohesion and provides a healthy recreational past time. Key to all this happening, was keeping the greens in good repair, something that could not practically happen without new equipment. Heather agreed to help the group look again at the Awards for All application materials and support them with the application process.
So fast forwarding a few weeks to today, Parciau Bowling Club have put themselves in the lead by getting a grant to purchase the equipment needed at the grassroots level. The grassroots may soon be even shorter in Wrexham!