Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

New grant scheme launched

NEWCASTLE Science City has set up a new grants scheme to help community groups use science to improve the lives of people across Tyneside.

A £170,000 fund to directly finance community-led programmes has been unveiled by Newcastle Science City to improve the accessibility and understanding of science in neighbourhoods – particularly in deprived areas – around the city.

The Community Science Small Grant Fund was launched at the Discovery Museum to representatives of more than 50 voluntary groups and charities who have now been urged to design science-based initiatives that will be eligible for Newcastle Science City support.

Nick Powell, the scheme’s community engagement co-ordinator, said the idea was to enhance understanding of how science can improve the lives of residents throughout the city.

He said: “It was fantastic to bring so many organisations doing great work together to announce the scheme and I’m really positive that in the next few months campaigns and initiatives will be springing up across the city to extend the reach of science into some of the more deprived areas of the city.”

“We will provide support to groups to develop eligible programmes, but we want the seeds of ideas to come from the communities themselves. The fund has been set up to be flexible – the unifying factor is using science to improve the lives of people in our communities,” he added.

He said schemes would manifest themselves according to the nature of the organisation. For instance a scheme to refurbish bikes might make use of the funds to train out of school youngsters in bicycle maintenance courses. Or perhaps an inner city environment group could use a grant award to take community members out into the countryside to learn more about biodiversity, he said.

Not for profit organisations will be able to apply for funding between £1,000 and £12,000 from now until the project ends in March 2012. To be eligible, candidate organisations must be not-for-profit and based in Newcastle. Applications from groups that engage disenfranchised sections of the population including young out of work adults, minorities, and the elderly will be especially welcome, said Nick.

Mark Chambers, community youth manager at Scotswood Community Garden, which promotes learning about nature, the environment and sustainable living, attended the grant launch.

He said: “Personally I think the small grants fund is a great scheme and as an organisation, we’ll be looking to see what applications we can put in.

“One of the ideas we’ve had so far is perhaps for a potential education project to make people more aware of the honeybee and how important they are to our way of life,” he said.

As well as putting up the money, a team of project facilitators will assist community groups through the application process.

Peter Arnold, Newcastle Science City’s chief executive, said the scheme was designed to enhance the contribution of science to people’s quality of life.

He said: “Science offers amazing opportunities for personal fulfilment, whether that’s through career paths or people’s lifelong interests. So, hopefully, by making this grant available to community groups doing inspirational work across the city, we can offer more disenfranchised groups a really positive taste of science and what it can offer.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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