Feature: How to keep South Yorkshire community groups alive

Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com

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South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF).
Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com 01302-57081 07778315553 South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF).
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Right now funding for local charities and community organisations can be hard to come by. In a time of constant cuts and financial struggles for businesses and individuals alike, it is easy to understand why looking for grant funding might seem like a waste of time.

Local charity South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) is changing that, one grant award at a time.

Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com  01302-570814  07778315553   
South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF)
Sheffield Steelers Wheelchair Basketball Club

Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com 01302-570814 07778315553 South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF) Sheffield Steelers Wheelchair Basketball Club

The grant-making charity is determined to spread the word that it is has funding for community and voluntary organisations across the region up for grabs, to keep vital community projects up and running.

Sue Wragg, 56, Karen Alsop, 56, and Pete Foyle, 61, make up the fund management team at the foundation and each has worked in the local charity sector and lived in South Yorkshire for most, if not all, of their lives.

Pete said: “There are cuts everywhere at the moment and venues are putting up their prices so it is getting harder to run community organisations.

“But our message is that funding is still there and our endowment will stay here forever.

Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com  01302-570814  07778315553  
South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF).

Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com 01302-570814 07778315553 South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF).

“People see all the headlines about funding cuts and councils giving out less money and so on, and with all that in front of them they don’t see that smaller pots of funding, like what we offer, are still available.”

South Yorkshire’s Community has worked for 30 years to build up permanent grant funding for South Yorkshire communities. The endowment fund of over £10 million will continue to produce money for grant awards year on year in perpetuity.

Sue added: “Another pressure is that many of these organisations are getting more and more people coming to them for support. They can’t cope with the pressure and they shut down. So it’s more important than ever that we spread the word that we have funding here that they can apply for, so they can meet that need.”

SYCF has a long history of supporting local communities. Most memorably it began and ran the award-winning emergency flood relief fund in 2007 in response to the devastating floods across the county that affected so many people.

Karen Alsop said: “I joined the foundation for the flood fund work in 2007. I always felt that working as a part of the flood team has been one of the most significant pieces of work I have done with the foundation. Not just because we were responding to immediate and emergency need but it was the tremendous amount of money, over £1.67 million, raised by the local community to help those affected, that made it such a rewarding piece of work.”

Despite larger grant awards becoming harder and harder to come by, the foundation team emphasise the massive impact that just a small amount of money can have.

Sue said: “When I first started at the foundation I went to visit a group in Rotherham, which was for young people.

“It was just a little community hall and the kids were dancing and they had asked for funding for shoes for the kids to dance in and I thought why would they want shoes?

“And I got there and there were kids with no shoes at all, they were just dancing in their socks.

“Some of them didn’t even like dancing but they were going because it meant they weren’t at home getting abuse from their parents.

“It was a huge eye opener and it showed me just how important our funding is to local people.”

Funding opportunities are open to a wide range of applications and charitable groups, for amounts from £500 up to £5,000 and sometimes higher.

While most of the funding is open to general applications South Yorkshire wide, some are more specific. One open fund is for integrated play schemes for children with disabilities, another is to support the welfare of the adult deaf community in Sheffield.

Funding is open to individuals too, such as the Deakin and Withers Fund.

Sue added: “We have funds that are open all year round and some that open at certain times so it is always worth checking what we have on offer. We will soon be opening to applications for our Comic Relief Local Communities Fund and our Young People into Employment Programme will be opening back up shortly too.

“We are always working to bring in new funding opportunities too, so make sure to keep an eye on our website as we have some becoming available very soon!”

Pete added: “There is money out there and it really isn’t that complicated to apply. You just need to be able to describe what you do, how it helps people and what you need. Don’t tell us what bills it will pay, tell us what good it will do.”

FACT FILE

* South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) helps local charitable organisations.

To apply for funding from SYCF go to www.sycf.org.uk/apply 
or to find out more email grants@sycf.org.uk or call 
0114 242 4857.

* SYCF’s partner charity South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau (SYFAB) offers support and advice on applying and finding funding from SYCF and other grant makers. To find out more go to SYFAB or email advice@syfab.org.uk or call 0114 261 5141.

* To set up a fund programme to benefit your local community go to South Yorkshire Community Foundation or to find out more email admin@sycf.org.uk or call 
0114 242 4857.