The Chron and Barclaycard are marking 10-years of the Community Gifts project with £50,000 for local organisations

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THERE are much worse ways to spend a decade than spreading joy throughout a community and offering vital funds to the charitable projects which most need them.

So far a sum of almost £300,000 has been awarded to those in need around the county and the campaign is set to continue to help even more people.

This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Community Gifts partnership, Barclaycard has announced it will be giving away the huge sum of £50,000 to support Northamptonshire projects.

As in previous years, the money will be shared between any schools and charities which can show they need this money to achieve a particular project, whether it be buying books for a new library or kitting out a school playground.

And this year, in particular, judges would like to hear from charities working with youngsters between the ages of 14 and 25, perhaps who have been prevented from realising their full potential through circumstances such as poverty, disability, location, gender, ethnic origin or lack of education.

Recognising that these are challenging times for young people, Barclaycard is interested in hearing from groups which work to improve the life skills of the next generation, whether through supporting literacy or numeracy, increasing their employability or supporting young enterprises.

Louise Guedes, Barclaycard’s community manager, said: “We are delighted to be working once again with the Chronicle & Echo and the Evening Telegraph. This is a very special year for us as this is our 10th year in partnership and to celebrate this we are delighted to increase the prize fund from £30,000 to £50,000.

“Every year we are overwhelmed by the number of applications we receive. There are some amazing charities doing unsung work in our community and we are proud to be able to support them via Community Gifts.

“The current economic climate is particularly hard for young people so we are especially keen this year to receive applications from charities helping young people aged between 14 and 25 years improve their skills in numeracy, literacy, money management and enterprise.”

Chronicle & Echo editor David Summers said: “The years have certainly flown by since we first established the Community Gifts partnership with Barclaycard, but the last decade has seen the company help a huge number of charities in fulfilling their dreams.

“The Chron is delighted to be marking this anniversary with Barclaycard and looks forward to seeing which deserving causes will be helped this year.”

To enter simply write in, filling in the attached form, explaining what amount you are hoping for and why. All entries must be received by November 11.

This year’s awards ceremony will be held on December 8 at Beckworth Emporium.

Here’s how some of last year’s winners spent their Community Gifts cash...

LIVE AT home - £3,000

Bringing the elderly and young together to spend time and learn from each other was the goal of the Northampton charity Live At Home, which led to manager Ray Gardner asking for £3,000 from Community Gifts.

The charity’s overall aim is to provide a source of friendship and support for socially isolated older people in the county and the Community Gifts money was needed to go towards an inter-generational project involving primary school pupils, university students and elderly people.

Activities this year have included older people learning how to use a Nintendo Wii in sessions at the University of Northampton, as well as Easter bonnet making craft sessions at Cedar Road Primary School.

Ray said: “I think between 50 and 60 people attended these events. The project has a beneficial effect and a social effect as well, getting 70, 80 or 90-year-olds to work with younger people has been excellent.

“At Cedar Road we are also down to have a harvest festival event with them later this year.”

He continued: “It is one of those things that helps both ways. Older people don’t get much of a chance to go into schools and universities. All some of them see of young people are pictures on the news, which aren’t always good pictures. Working on a one to one basis they could see how wonderful and friendly the young people are, and how professional in their approach.

“A lot of the younger people don’t have grandparents or great grandparents and to have the opportunity to work with older people gives them a completely different view.”

soundbox partnership - £4,000

AN organisation which works with young people in the Towcester area used its Community Gifts funds to create a legal aerosol art wall project.

The Soundbox Partnership is organised by groups including the social housing provider South Northants Homes and Vision Youth Cafe, working to provide activities for youngsters in the area and to cut anti-social behaviour.

The wall was created at the rear of Vision Cafe in Towcester, which is now a place where young people can express themselves through art.

SNH community development manager Becky Pavey said: “Without the grant we wouldn’t have been able to build a wall and give the young people of Towcester what they want.

“The money went towards the construction of the wall, the lights, the materials and a number of workshops to inspire local young people to get involved in the Soundbox project.”

eastfield primary school - £800

There was a definite buzz around Eastfield Primary School when staff and students there discovered they had been awarded £800 in Community Gifts money last year.

The cash was spent on funding a series of activities to help the children learn all about bees.

Sarah Lord, family and pastoral support officer, said: “We held a bee week and had beekeepers coming in to school so the children could see the bees in action.

“They planted bee habitats in the grounds and created bee houses.

“The activities were across the whole school and it was in conjunction with South Court Environmental which comes in once a week and garden with the children. We wanted to extend the work we do with them and focus on one sort of topic. A lot of our children live in maisonettes and flats so don’t have access to a lot of outdoor space. This project was to promote healthy living and to show the children where their food comes from.”

fairfields school - £2,000

The great British weather will no longer be an obstacle to gardening activities at Fairfields School, thanks to the purchase of a polytunnel.

With £2,000 from Community Gifts, the school has been able to buy a polytunnel, offering youngsters the chance to take part in gardening all year round.

Teacher Tracey Dell-Sanders said: “We are just in the process of getting it up and running. It is like a covered learning environment. It is going to be used for curriculum working, gardening clubs and things like PSHE.

“We are going to grow things like herbs and other plants and produce things like strawberries and peppers, everything you can grow in the garden. It is nice we will be able to use it all year round.”

CLUBS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE - £2,500

Disability friendly watersports equipment was badly needed by Clubs for Young People Northamptonshire (CYP), so the £2,500 given to the group by Community Gifts proved extremely useful.

The CYP works with the community to make sure there are a variety of activities available for young people locally, whether by supporting the setting up of youth clubs or working to find funding to subsidise projects.

Based at the Nene Whitewater Centre in Bedford Road, the CYP used their cash to buy a Katakanu, a type of boat resembling two connected canoes which can be used by people of different abilities.

Assistant county director Kerry Downes said: “It is basically two canoes joined together so we can get six people on there.

“It is good for people with disabilities or people who aren’t confident on the water, we have done quite a few river trips so far.” She added: “It is a good piece of equipment for us to have because it does open up access. People want to come along, have a go and get on the water in a safe way.”