Headlines: February 8th, 2005

Voluntary and community organisations across England are getting more than two million pounds over the next year to help them explore ways of involving local people in improving the quality of public spaces. The money will come from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Special Grants Programme.The programme supports innovative work by voluntary and community sector organisations, specifically projects that deliver on issues contained in key national sustainability publications, including ‘Living Places: Cleaner, Safer, Greener’, the ‘Sustainable Communities Plan’ and the ‘Urban White Paper ‘.

Phil Hope, Minister in the ODPM said that in all 40 work programmes would benefit from two and a quarter million pounds funding. Nine new programmes have been included, four of them getting core funding, which aims to develop long-term relationships with voluntary and community sector organisations whose core work supported the drive for cleaner, safer, greener communities

The nine are Living Streets, whose objective is to deliver national policy to improve streets and public spaces, through community street audits, supporting volunteers and partnership working; the Tree Council, who are extending the Tree Wardens programme into urban areas; the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, who run ‘green’ gym training programmes, promoting health and partnership working; the Field Studies Council, which will increase out of classroom learning activities in parks and open spaces in the pilot areas in London and Birmingham; the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, which supports new and existing community based gardening and food production groups; Engage, an organisation aiming to make public cultural spaces more youth friendly; the Interlink Foundation, that improves the quality of public spaces, in terms of physical fabric and infrastructure; the Women’s Environment Network, which will support a network of ethnic minority and disadvantaged women’s groups to help them convert neglected spaces into community gardens of places and Help the Aged, who get funding for the establishment of three pilot projects of wardens’ schemes for older people.

Phil Hope said because the level of support for the nine organisations was 2.3 million pounds over the lifetime of the SGP funding streams there would be no SGP bidding round for new funding in 2006-07.