WITH the season of good will approaching, Barclaycard is yet again preparing to give away £30,000 to local charities and schools through Community Gifts.
And later this week, the final shortlist of 12 entrants will find out if they have had their wishes granted through this year’s campaign.
Community Gifts is an annual scheme run by the Chronicle & Echo and Evening Telegraph in conjunction with Barclaycard, which each year gives vital cash to the county projects which need it most.
Entries for this year’s Community Gifts awards have been flooding in from across Northamptonshire and a shortlist of 12 groups has now been drawn up.
The Chron caught up with some of the finalists to find out what the Community Gifts money would mean to them.
The final list of 12 includes Eastfield Primary School, which hopes to attract £750 in funding to help educate youngsters about bees.
Sarah Lord, family and pastoral support officer, explained that the school had been working with the local South Court Environmental (SCE) group to create an allotment at the school for use by the children.
She said: “This application is linked to that project as they have learned all about vegetables and it is time for them to move on to learn more about what happens outside. We were interested in bee conservation work and SCE have a lot of experience in these things.”
The aim is that children will be able to visit the SCE hives and take part in other linked activities such as cooking with honey.
Sarah said: “It is really important for us as a lot of the children we have don’t have access to safe outside areas, so it is important to encourage this kind of outdoors education.”
Meanwhile, the charity Live at Home, which is based at Park Avenue Methodist Church, has also been shortlisted to receive £3,000.
The organisation is run by volunteers who work to help older and often vulnerable people through everything from a befriending scheme to assisted shopping.
Manager Ray Gardner said: “The Live at Home scheme is a charity based in Northampton which provides a friendship and support network for socially isolated older people in the community.
“Actually that would include anyone over 60 and anyone on their own who perhaps doesn’t have the traditional support from family and friends. It may be someone who has been widowed or someone who just doesn’t have immediate family to support them.
“As people get older it gets more difficult for them to go out and about.”
Ray is hopeful that any Community Gifts money can be ploughed into more inter-generational work; notably a project which will bring University of Northampton students, as well as pupils from Cedar Road Primary, into contact with the charity’s clients.
The hope is that the people the charity is helping will be taken along to the university and helped to take part in activities, for example using a Nintendo Wii.
They will also have the chance to go along to Cedar Road Primary to take part in craft activities with the children.
Ray said: “It would make a really big difference to our members if you could get this project off the ground.”
Another shortlisted applicant is the charity Clubs for Young People Northamptonshire (CYP), which works with the community to ensure there are a variety of pastimes available for young people locally.
The CYP not only helps support the setting up of youth clubs but also works to find funding to subsidise particular ventures such as watersports.
The CYP, which is based at the Nene Whitewater Centre in Bedford Road, would like £2,500 from Community Gifts to buy watersports equipment suitable for use by people with disabilities.
Kerry Downes, assistant county director, said: “Because we took over the Nene Whitewater Centre, part of our vision is to make it accessible to everyone. Part of the problem, though, is lack of equipment. If you have an adult or child in with a disability then we have to adapt things. We want to be able to adapt things permanently.”
She continued: “We would really like to buy a bell boat, which is a piece of equipment with two big canoes connected to each other. An instructor sits in the middle and the young people or adults sit either side. It is really good for people with disabilities, it is a good, safe activity.”
Also among the hopeful finalists are the staff and pupils of Fairfields School in Northampton.
Teacher Tracey Dell-Sanders explained the school would like £2,000 to put into the creation of an all year round gardening club.
She said: “We haven’t got a covered area for them to go out and enjoy their sensory environment, but this is important as a lot of our children are sensory impaired. At the moment they only have access to these areas at certain times of year. If we had a polytunnel then we could garden all year round.”
The final Community Gifts awards will be presented on Thursday and announced in the Chron soon.
The Community Gifts finalists
The Live at Home charity, based at Park Avenue Methodist Church in Northampton, has applied for £3,000 to fund activities in which school pupils and university students can work with older people.
Eastfield Primary School would like £750 to fund a ‘bee week’ in which children learn more about bees through visiting hives, learning about the food chain and cooking with honey.
Alliston Gardens Youth and Community Centre want £780.60 to pay for a new printer and lap top.
Clubs for Young People Northamptonshire, based in Bedford Road, want to buy more watersports equipment suitable for children and young people with disabilities. The centre has applied for £2,500.
Fairfields School in Northampton has asked for £2,000 to buy a polytunnel and outdoor gardening equipment in order to establish an all year round gardening club.
Emmanuel Coffee Shop at the Weston Favell Centre has applied for £500 to go towards a new washing machine and tumble dryer.
Northamptonshire Association for the Blind (NAB) would like £6,410 to go towards buying an electronic call system.
The charity Rushden Mind has applied for £2,000 to help create a bistro, which needs a range of items such as a microwave, dishwasher, crockery, cutlery, chairs and tables.
Life Education Northants has applied for £2,000 to pay for the installation of two Quizzdom systems for mobile classrooms which visit schools.
Raunds Park Infant Eco Gardening Club wants £345.01 to pay for new gardening equipment.
The Sound Box Partnership in Towcester has requested £4,000 to fund a legal art aerosol wall project.
The charity Family Action In Our Region (FAIR) has applied for £5,245 to create a super sensory hut as well as sensory equipment and a trip.