A report from Kent Community Foundation reveals the grant makers distributed some £4 million to community groups and charities across the county, including Thanet, in the financial year 2021/2022.
A total of £3.7 million was awarded to 538 organisations and almost £400,000 has helped 500 families and individuals living in Kent.
Kent Community Foundation focus their funding on five priority areas: Children, Young People and Families, Elderly and Isolated Adults, Vulnerable Adults, the Environment and Employability, Skills and Enterprise.
As well as awarding grants Kent Community Foundation also offers organisations the opportunity to apply for a combined grant and loan though their Kent Social Enterprise Loan Fund.
One Thanet organisation to receive a financial boost was Round in Circles Productions CIC in Margate.
Round in Circles make immersive, transformative participatory dance-theatre and received a grant of £5,000 for their project, Distant Harmony. This connected older, isolated, people who were at high-risk of Covid-19 via dance workshops, physical activity, and community arts while maintaining social distancing.
The Distant Harmony project gave people something to care about and invest in. It supported their mental health, was uplifting and gave them something to look forward to.
The KCF report shares the experience of Thanet resident Dorothy Hale, 87, who before Covid-19, went out regularly to local dance events.
Lockdown was a very lonely time for her, on top of which she had to manage health issues which worsened through lack of activity. This project gave her something to look forward to and made her feel ‘visible and important’.
As part of the process Dorothy made a special effort and got her hair done, specially curated her outfit for filming and brought her best dance moves to the table, which helped her feel like her old self. Her feelings at the start and end of the project went through a notable transformation. She expressed raw joy over the lovely time she had at the dance event and looked healthy and happier in her body too.”
Book Beyond Words
Another Thanet organisation to receive funding was Book Beyond Words supports people to access literacy whether they can read words or not, by producing books which tell stories through pictures.
The Thanet-based charitable publisher came to Kent Community Foundation for funding for their ‘Deaf Friends Book Club’.
The club supports those within the community who are deaf with learning disabilities to access books, as well as becoming part of a local group within their community.
They were awarded a grant of £4,160 to pay for British Sign Language (BSL) singers to attend groups and facilitate a high level of communication so that participants could fully engage and get the most from sessions.
The group invited BSL students so that they could also practice signing with new groups of people. The group overcame challenges during Covid-19 restrictions to continue to deliver groups online.
The founder of Deaf Friends Book Club is Jessica who is deaf with learning disabilities. She wanted to feel more connected to her friends and have more to do during the pandemic restrictions; without education and the structure it brings, enjoying life can be more challenging.
Knowing of Books Beyond Words, Jessica set up the Deaf Friends Book Club. With the support of her mum, Jessica kept a record, using pictures, of the books read and made sure that everyone was able to participate in the group and comment on the narrative of the story.
For many, the book club is the highlight of their week. It provides the opportunity to extend friendship circles, have a place to talk and build a positive and constructive relationship with the deaf community.
Cliftonville Community Centre
Cliftonville Community Centre received funding for computer equipment to support and enable vulnerable adults with mental health issues, ethnic minorities where English is not the first language, those with no access to the internet or who struggle to navigate online.
The new skills helped beneficiaries apply for benefits, register for social housing, access health and social services, arrange appointments, job search and update CVs, deal with correspondence and do research.
Josephine McCartney (pictured), Chief Executive, Kent Community Foundation, said, “This report highlights how we have been supporting and will continue to support good causes as we move into another year of uncertainty, high fuel and food prices, high inflation and increasing interest rates.
“Despite all of these challenges the charitable sector fights on providing even more support to our most vulnerable communities when they need it the most. Thank you to everyone who continues to choose to give through Kent Community Foundation because, without you, a lot of these much-needed organisations just wouldn’t survive.”
The Kent Community Foundation Impact Report can be viewed online by visiting www.paperturn-view.com/?pid=Mjg288798&v=1.1