Monday 11 June 2012

The Children’s Foundation Regional Small Grants Panel

There have been 1000s of very kind and generous folk supporting me over the years. To date, almost £160,000 has been raised for St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation. Up until very recently, I've simply raised the funds and handed them over to the charities. I've always been at arms length from the charities as a fundraiser. That is, until I was made an ambassador for The Children's Foundation and asked to sit on their Regional Small Grants Panel.

The Children’s Foundation Regional Small Grants programme supports community projects that benefit children and young people in the North East in line with their "Happy, Healthy and Safe" aims and objectives. Grants awarded are up to a maximum of £1,000. The panel meets 3 times per year and I've sat on the previous 2 meetings.

Recent beneficiaries have included Sunderland Gateway who were awarded £1,000 allowing them to purchase new equipment for their disability sports programme. Monkchester Family Centre based in Walker were awarded £1,000 allowing them to provide dance and exercise classes for children and parents to attend together. Hendon Young Peoples Project were awarded £750 allowing them to purchase equipment and materials to enhance the activities they offer to disabled and special needs children.

Since the Regional Grants panel was established, over £200,000 has been awarded to voluntary sector projects that support children with disabilities and their families in line with the aims of the organisation.

To play a part in deciding where the money is spent is a responsibility that I take very seriously indeed. Deciding which applicants are successful and those not so has been quite a challenge. On the face of it, most applications seem very worthy. Not all applications, however, fit the criteria laid down by The Children's Foundation.

I feel that, having ran 1000s of miles to raise funds for the charity, I'm ideally positioned to sit on the panel. I worked really hard to raise some of the funds that go to make up the Regional Small Grants fund. As a result, I have gained the required level of prudence that you need for this kind of role.

One award that I'd like to highlight was made to North Fawdon Primary School (pupils pictured above with Nicola and Libby from The Children's Foundation). 

"A Newcastle school has benefitted from a new chill-out area thanks to a £1,000 donation from The Children’s Foundation. 

More than 130 youngsters at North Fawdon Primary School can relax with soft play, bubble machines and interactive games after the school secured the funding from the charity’s latest Regional Small Grant round. 

Head teacher, Alison Cairns, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been able to create this space for our pupils to spend time either as a reward for good behaviour, or to pre-empt negative behaviour. It is a very relaxing area so we find that if a child is going to start being disruptive in the classroom we bring them to chill-out for 15 minutes and they completely relax. “It means that fewer classes are being affected by negative behaviour and we'’ve noticed a significant difference already.”

The Children’s Foundation’s three main aims are to support medical research into childhood illnesses and conditions; support NHS services for children and young people and create partnership programmes that will address key health and lifestyle issues affecting young people including mental health, disability and safety. 

In the past year, the charity has directly improved the lives of more than 37,000 children across the North East. Each year its projects are having a wider reach and impact on services and treatment for children across the whole of the UK. Three times a year it’s Regional Small Grants programme offers grants of up to £1,000 to charities and good causes across the North East. 

Fundraising manager, Libby Nolan, said: “The Children’s Foundation is committed to keeping children in the North East healthy, happy and safe. We are thrilled that North Fawdon Primary School have used our donation to create this chill-out area which will benefit all of the children at the school, as well as future generations.".

Details of how to apply for an award can be found here. In the meantime, watch this space as I'll be bringing you news about some equipment, funded by The Children's Foundation, that is used in the Great North Children's Hospital. I'll also be writing more about my family's experience of using the services of St Benedict's Hospice.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has sponsored me over the years. Together, we have made a huge difference to 2 very worthy local charities.