Huge interest in #iwill grant funding

THE Wiltshire Community Foundation has had an excellent response to its #iwill funding programme, which aims to increase volunteering and social action among young people.

Through the #iwill fund (formerly known as Youth Social Action) we are able to give grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 for projects that last a year (although they can be one-off events). We may also fund projects more than once in a year if the need can be demonstrated.

We have had around 20 expressions of interest and expect to see many of these progress into fully-fledged applications in the coming weeks. The deadline for exprssions of interest has now passed but there will be another round in the autumn. We are still interested in talking to donors who would like to support the programme. 

Through the programme we can fund projects that inspire young people (aged between ten and 20 or up to 25 for disabled children) in a variety of ways. They could be online, extracurricular, within clubs or groups or as part of a more formal, structured programme.

We want to support initiatives that inspire young people who would not otherwise take part in social action, particularly, but not exclusively, those from lower social economic backgrounds. Our goal is to help provide skills for young people and benefits for their community. These skills could be cooking, listening, communicating, befriending, maths and English or creative but there are many other areas too. The bottom line is that they must enrich the volunteers while they are benefitting the place they live in.

It is our hope that these projects involve young people in the planning, delivery and evaluation; provide enjoyable, sociable activity; provide opportunities to learn useful skills and meet a need in the community.

One group that has taken full advantage of a £3,500 grant it received last year is The Platform Project in Swindon. It has given a group of young people a new perspective on the issue of homelessness while also providing them with valuable skills and experience.

The Platform Project, which only launched last August, aims to give young people on the margins of education and employment the chance to learn new skills and boost their confidence through a series of enterprise challenges.

Earlier challenges involved designing and producing mugs and posters, organising a music event and designing fashion but the latest and most ambitious tasked a group with investigating homelessness while producing a film.

Director Sadie Sharp said the choice of subject matter had been a unanimous one among the five-strong group who made the film, called Diary Of A Social Conscience.

“All of them have come across little bits of homelessness, seeing people sleeping rough but they weren’t aware of the bigger picture so making the film was a chance to explore that for them,” she said.

A few of the group had some experience of photography and digital media from previous courses but this was the first time any of them had taken on a shoot that involved interviews in multiple locations that needed to be edited.

The resulting four-minute documentary-style film talks to staff at Swindon Borough Council, Threshold Housing, Swindon Night Shelter, the Salvation Army’s Booth House and The Big Breakfast, which feeds the homeless.

Interviewer Chloe Butler, 18, said making the film had taught her not to stereotype people sleeping rough.

“I realised that any one of us can make a mistake or have a bad relationship and can become homeless,” she said. “Homeless people are not all addicted to drugs and alcohol. We could all land in their situation.”

Sadie said the young filmmakers, aged between 11 and 25, had learnt how to work as a team as well as skills such as camerawork, editing, interviewing and other digital skills.

“They also became aware of the amount of volunteers supporting the charities they met and some of them are now looking into volunteering themselves.”

She said making the film had been a positive, confidence-building experience for the team. Chloe added: “Doing this has been good for me because it has given me the confidence to do thing I would never have done before.”

The Platform Project is targeted at young people who come from difficult home backgrounds, have disabilities or are struggling with education. Its aim is to help them develop skills and interests that might help them find a path to education and employment.

“The #iwill funding has made this project possible and we are very grateful,” said Sadie.

“The help from the community foundation was invaluable. This is not traditional model so the foundation took a bit of a risk with us. We had some really useful guidance about the balance between keeping the young people safe and making it a meaningful experience for them.”

The video was researched and filmed in a week and then edited over four weekends. It was shown at a Swindon Homelessness Seminar last month.

“We have had very good feedback,” said Sadie. “I think a lot of people were surprised at just how good the film was.”

The next stage of the project will aim to see the group working with Threshold Housing in Swindon to provide street lockers for homeless people to store their belongings.

Watch the film on YouTube here. Find out more about The Platform Project here.

For the full funding criteria and to request an application form click here. You can also call us on 01380 729284 to discuss your application or get advice.

The deadline for expressions of interest in the next round of #iwill funding is September 21. and to request an application form for the first round of #iwill grant funding  is March 29.