Our Area Funds enable local people to help others in their community in a number of ways. These funds support local community projects, pool together donations from local people and companies to make a bigger impact, as well as provide a sustainable source of funding to support evolving community needs.
This week, we ask Ambassador and Panel member Liz Lawrence about her involvement with our Epsom & Ewell Community Fund.
I’m Liz, an Ambassador for the Community Foundation for Surrey. As an Epsom resident, I’m also a panel member for the Epsom & Ewell Community Fund – one of the eighteen Area Funds that the Foundation operates.
My involvement began in 2016 as one of the founding members of the Epsom & Ewell Fund. I was inspired by meeting Community Foundation Chief Executive, Laura Thurlow and her predecessor, Wendy Varcoe. In a typically gentle, unassuming but insightful way, they wowed and educated me as I learned about the positive difference the Foundation makes to community life here in Surrey.
The Epsom & Ewell Fund demonstrates that in spades. Anyone who lives in or visits the area knows that sitting alongside the splendour of the racecourse or the RAC club and the wonderful green spaces, is visible poverty and deprivation:
- A recent Shelter report listed Epsom & Ewell as one of the areas in the country with the highest rates of recorded homelessness – ranked 45 of all authorities. Beggars in Epsom High Street are sadly commonplace.
- This year demand for the Epsom & Ewell foodbank has seen a 40% rise in demand over the previous year.
- Loneliness among older people is rising, with the number of people over 65 who live alone in Epsom & Ewell projected to increase by around 30% by 2025.
There are of course many national charities that work tirelessly to address these issues. But that can feel anonymous and I wanted to get directly involved in improving the quality of the community life that I am part of. This is the real USP of the Epsom & Ewell Fund – we raise money locally to invest back into the local community. In doing this, we can see, touch and feel the impact. And that’s powerful.
The way it works is that once the panel has raised sufficient funds, we let local voluntary and community groups know they can apply for funding. The panel – with support from the experts at the Community Foundation for Surrey – then review the applications and decide which grants to award.
Needless to say, demand for grants outstrips the funding we have available. So, in making our decisions the panel aims to support a variety of grants that benefit a range of people and places. We also take account of the level of reserves the organisation that has applied has, and whether it receives funding from other sources.
Its relatively early days, but to date we have awarded nine grants, averaging £1,000 and we will be making further awards over the coming months. Grants include to:
- The Old Moat Garden Centre Café in Epsom to help more people with mental health difficulties gain work experience and training. I am a regular visitor both to the cafe and the Garden Centre and feel proud to have played a small part in helping this enterprise go from strength to strength.
- Epsom & Ewell Colts Youth Football Club to fund subsidised places for young people to play football.
- The Meeting Room to support a drop-in facility for homeless and marginalised people in the Borough.
- Stoneleigh Job Club to support running costs and so support people into employment.
- Epsom Common Association to help the volunteer led group continue their project converting timber from local conservation activities into charcoal. With climate change such a hot global topic, it’s great that we are making a small local contribution too.
If you would like to get involved or to know more, please visit the Epsom & Ewell Community Fund page. Supporting a local fund is a simple way to help people in your community. Find out more about our other Area Funds here.