Poverty is not going to disappear from Northampton overnight - but a little bit of help here and there could just make a huge difference.
It is nearly two months since the Chronicle & Echo launched its Fair Deal for Kids campaign, after shock figures revealed parts of our town saw child poverty rates of more than 37 per cent.
The past weeks have seen politicians debate wider strategies for tackling the problem in these pages.
But now it is time for action.
Which is why the Chron has teamed up with the Northamptonshire Community Foundation to set up a dedicated Fair Deal for Kids fund.
The fund will be a ring-fenced pot of money for community groups and volunteer organisations within Northamptonshire that work to tackle poverty.
The money will be administered by Northamptonshire Community Foundation entirely, with the proceeds used to support projects in the county which are actively helping to tackle poverty and help vulnerable children and young people.
Chief executive of the Northamptonshire Community Foundation, Victoria Miles, said: “There is some really good work going on in the community out there, but they all need funding.”
In real terms the fund could provide financial help to groups that rehabilitate young offenders, that offer CV writing classes or run food banks.
But it will also go towards groups that run social events such as coffee mornings, lunch clubs and fitness classes in deprived areas.
Grants director for Northamptonshire Community Foundation, Rachel McGrath, said: “When you are in poverty one of the first things to go are hobbies and activities.
“But often it’s that bit of social interaction that keeps people going.
“The isolation that comes with being in poverty can be devastating.
“A lot of the groups we fund are literally lifelines to people. They are a social club people can afford and access easily.”
And this is where you come in. The Chron is calling on our readers to donate whatever they can to the cause – even if it is just a pound.
As the months go on, we will then show you exactly what the money is being spent on and how it is helping to improve lives.
To donate couldn’t be simpler. Either head to the dedicated donations page: localgiving.com/charity/fairdeal or text FOUN01 £amount to 70070.
The Northamptonshire Community Foundation hands out a variety of funding for the county’s voluntary and community sector in the region of £1 million per year.
The final decision of where how the Fair Deal for Kids fund is spent would be made entirely by the community foundation’s monthly grants panel.
“Any sort of funding for a group like ours will help,” according to the leader of an organisation trying to improve the life chances of young people in Spring Boroughs.
Clive Ireson, who runs the Springs Family Centre on Tower Street has welcomed the Fair Deal for Kids fund as he believes it could provide vital support to community groups in Northamptonshire.
He said: “We don’t charge anything for coming to use our facilities, so even small amounts of money can make such a difference.”
The Springs Family Centre runs a packed weekly roster of events for youngsters in Spring boroughs, from a Tuesday night cookery class, to basketball sessions, five-a-side football and CV writing classes.
Rachel McGrath, of the Northamptonshire Community Foundation, has urged people to donate to he Fair Deal for Kids fund in order to support groups like Mr Ireson’s.
“Having a place like this on your doorstep, being able to build up relationships with he volunteers here and the other service users, this can be a real lifeline,” she said.
“Even if this campaign simply highlights the work that these volunteers do, it has to be a good thing.”
Volunteer Sarah Williams, 59, of Wootton, who helps run the cooking class for teenagers at Springs Family Centre , says such community groups can offer vital life skills to help people out of poverty. She said: “These guys have realised they can do very nutritious meals for not a lot. These are skills they can take back to their homes.”
Just £100 could keep a cookery class for teenagers running for four weeks, or toys for a preschool in an under privileged area and £40 would buy a basketball to keep an evening sports team running.
The Chron’s Fair Deal for Kids Fund is not proposing to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But it will provide real, tangible results in areas of high depravation.
“The groups the we fund are grass roots and they are right there on the font line,” said Rachel McGrath of the Northamptonshire Community Foundation.
“We have a whole database of live and current activities going on in the county right now.”
One such group that could benefit from the campaign is Northampton-based Baby Basics. The charity, set up in 2013 has helped 250 families by providing Moses baskets of essential items for mums with babies who are struggling financially. Another could be Youth Works CIC , a not-for-profit organisation rooted in the communities of Corby and Kettering.
But there are hundreds more that could make a difference to people’s lives. If you know of a worthy cause in your area want you to get in touch via email to email@example.com.