Community groups could secure cash for work that improves neighbourhoods

Community groups in Lancashire are being invited to bid for cash from a special fund for projects that can help discourage crime or support people who have been a victim of it.

The Community Action Fund, operated by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), gives grants to organisations involved in a range of work – including those with a more general aim to create safe and confident neighbourhoods.

Football can be a "diversionary" activity for young people, according to one former senior police officer

Football can be a "diversionary" activity for young people, according to one former senior police officer

The scheme was established in 2013 and last year handed out £110,000 to almost 50 different groups that wanted to tackle a particular local concern.

The Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre was supported to run a summer football club, helping it to extend its regular weekend coaching sessions to weekdays during the school holidays.

Chairman Peter Mason – a retired chief superintendent – said that his experience in policing meant he understood the need for “diversionary” activities to keep young people occupied.

“The summer holidays are a long time – and if kids aren’t doing something organised like we offer, then they will be hanging around on the street.

“Even if they don’t intend to be disruptive in doing that, adults can still object when they see them gathered and kicking a ball around or something,” Peter said.

The action fund money allowed the soccer centre to provide places for young people whose families might not otherwise have been able to afford it. The result was a mixed group of youngsters, including some referred by the police, all taking part in a sport which Peter describes as “a great leveller”.

“We have children from all walks of life – from millionaires’ kids to refugees. Once they’re playing, they’re just mates having a game.

“Kids don’t see colour or social background when they’re involved in something like this There is a real need for social inclusion and while that’s not how this project started out, that’s where it’s ended up,” said Pete, who started his career on the beat in Preston and has been involved in the soccer centre since it was established 20 years ago.

Lancashire PCC Clive Grunshaw appealed to other groups to come forward and make a bid for funding.

“Local people across Lancashire have great ideas that can help in their areas and meet the needs of their individual communities and neighbourhoods.

“For relatively small investments, these projects deliver great value for money and make a real, tangible difference to the people they support and the areas that they take place in,” Mr. Grunshaw said.

The maximum grant that can be applied for is £3,000 and the cost of the overall project being funded must not exceed £10,000.

For more information, visit: www.lancashire-pcc.gov.uk/our-money/grant-funding/community-action-fund/