Group scales new heights to support the community

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FROM helping war veterans share their experiences with schoolchildren, to funding a Scouts’ climbing wall, a small group of Littlehampton residents is scaling new heights to support its community.

The River Ward Panel was set up to channel Government cash into an outwardly attractive area including the harbour, town centre and seafront, but with a range of social problems making it among the ten per cent of most deprived wards nationally, writes Roger Green.

River Ward Panel

River Ward Panel

The panel is the only one of its kind in Arun district and one of just two in the south-east set up under the Community First initiative, which has been given £80m of Government funds to distribute through 600 neighbourhoods nationwide.

In River ward, thousands of pounds have already been ploughed into charities, residents’ groups and one-off schemes and the panel is now inviting further bids from organisations working in the ward, with a particular emphasis on activities for children, young people and families, environmental enhancements, tackling anti-social behaviour, reducing loneliness among elderly people, tackling crime and celebrating special events.

Helping communities

Often, those who have been helped have a low profile and might otherwise find fund-raising difficult, such as Equine Partners, which has been given £1,000 to run its Time with Ponies project, based at Climping, but helping people from River ward.

Remarkable impact

The money is paying for sessions during which the charity’s trained volunteers and horses help people with mental health, relationship and communication difficulties, through what is known as equine-assisted learning, a therapeutic approach which can have a remarkable impact on individuals of all ages.

Other groups which have been helped include the Rope Walk Residents’ Association, with funding for an attractive flower bed feature in an old boat, a Junior Neighbourhood Watch scheme, Littlehampton in Bloom and the food bank now being run from Littlehampton Baptist Church with support from other churches in the town.

A youth organisation, Blueprint 22, has also been awarded a grant for a project, Putting the LGBTU Together, providing a safe meeting space for young people from the ward who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or unsure.

The panel was set up in 2011 and by the time it begins to wind down next year, will have spent around £33,000 on projects benefiting the neighbourhood.

More cash available

So far, about £20,000 has been committed, so there is plenty of scope for more grants.

Roger Melody, who lives in the ward, is the panel’s chairman.

He said: “We want to encourage people to come forward to apply for funding – not the big organisations, but those very local, small groups who might just need a few hundred which would make all the difference to their work in River ward.”

Rosie Parfitt is Littlehampton’s assistant town clerk, but sits on the panel as a resident and is the secretary. She also encouraged groups to bid for funding. “If we don’t spend the money, it goes back. We would particularly like to hear from residents’ groups who haven’t approached us yet.”

Also on the panel are Sara Hopkins, community liaison manager for The Littlehampton Academy, Joy Bradbury-Ball, wellbeing and health equalities coordinator for Arun District Council, Tyndall Jones, semi-retired town centre trader and stalwart charity supporter/fund-raiser,

Malcolm Belchamber, town councillor for River ward, police community support officer Clodagh Lynch and Edna Faria, chairman of the Rope Walk Residents’ Association.

To apply for a grant, download an application form from