27 year-old Charlotte Aspley (third from the left in the photo) from Lichfield enjoys a good night out with friends and family but she recognised that many people with a disability are socially isolated and never get to enjoy an evening out. So she decided to apply for a YouCan grant to set up regular disco nights in a local pub especially for people with a disability. An Ambassador for Mencap, her work to highlight the challenges faced by people living with a disability has earned her a visit to Buckingham Palace. Charlotte raised £7,500 for the charity by running the London Marathon last year and got the chance to show off her medal to The Countess of Wessex, who hosted a reception to celebrate the Mencap’s 70th anniversary in November 2017. Living with Mosaic Down syndrome, Charlotte understands all too well the worries of people living with a disability when it comes to going out and socialising, especially on a busy Saturday evening. Charlotte said: “I wanted to help people make new friends and have fun together in a safe and secure environment so I applied for the £300 grant and we’ve now held two disco nights at Walkabout in Lichfield. The pub kindly allowed us to use the venue for free but we needed the money to pay for SiA licenced door staff and a DJ. “The first disco took place in August where 20 people who wouldn’t normally venture into town had a fabulous time. Obviously, the word got around because the disco we held in November attracted 46 people, so we’re really looking forward to seeing how many come along to our future events. “As well as the grant from YouCan, [...]
Marlena from Lichfield has a love of making decorative furniture, crafts and toys for children’s bedrooms – and she’s pretty good at it too. After posting pictures of some her creations onto Facebook, interest started to build with a number of people beginning to show an interest in her work. She mentioned this to her Bromford skills coach who suggested that a YouCan grant could help her to build her business. With a little encouragement, Marlena completed the application form and the rest, as they say, is history. Marlena received a £300 grant that has enabled her to buy various materials and a new sewing machine that she’s using to make more fantastic creations. You can find her lovely work on Facebook at They call me mom If you have an idea that you think a £300 YouCan grant could help you get off the ground, you can apply here.
Anna approached YouCan for a grant to help make the most of the outside space and to bring her neighbours together. The flats where Anna and her neighbours live used to be a care home and, after seeing some old photos of it in its hay day, she had an idea to bring the building back to its former glory. She took the idea to her neighbourhood coach, Karen Price, who suggested that a grant from YouCan might be able to help. As soon as the funding came through, Anna and her neighbours got to work. With the bulk of the money being spent on decorative stones, the friends used their creativity to make the most of the things they had lying around. They upcycled a couple of chairs and added some wood from an old pallet to create a new garden bench, and an old filing cabinet was converted into a new planter. Anna said the grant was so helpful, and making the most of the outside space has really helped with her mental health. Just spending time pottering around outside, looking at the garden and tending to the hanging baskets makes her feel happy. Watch the video below to take a look at the results of the hard work that Anna and her neighbours have put in.
Running a children’s football team takes a lot of time and effort, and obviously money that is not always easy to come by. So when Phil Conner, joint manager of the under 13s Wrockwardine Wood football team, heard about YouCan he dived straight in to the application. The football club has been running for around 125 years and their under 13s team was set up in 2009, with Phil joining a year later. Wrockwardine Wood Football Club is home to wide selection of teams from the under 5s right up to adult men's and ladies teams and, like most community clubs, relies on the goodwill and enthusiasm of volunteers to keep it running. Phil applied for a You Can grant to buy some rain jackets for his under 13s team which now allow the team to train in all weather conditions. Phil said that the application process was really easy and it only took a few weeks for the grant to come through and now the jackets make everyone feel part of the team. The club are now in the process of applying for more funding. To find out what they’re looking to spend the money on take a look at the video below.
Esther Allen is volunteer director of Spark Centre in Burntwood who needed funding to start some services for families in the area. Esther explained that because of a lack of funding for things like breastfeeding services, new parents in the Burntwood area had no access to much needed help. She applied for a YouCan grant to help set up Midday Mayhem – a group to help young parents. This group is flourishing, with the money being spent on much needed resources including cooking ingredients and recipes to help everyone learn about healthy eating. Since the success of Midday Mayhem they have now applied for additional funding that has enabled them to launch other groups for families at the centre including Spark Bumps (for pregnant parents), Spark Babies (to help new parents avoid isolation once their babies are born) and funding has also helped them set up the Bistro breast feeding group. Esther says that the funding has really helped and a great thing to come out it is that a lot of the people who have used the facilities now volunteer, with some of them leading groups. The funding has enabled them to learn new skills and has paid for training in things like health and hygiene, safeguarding and breastfeeding peer support training. Thanks to YouCan these groups are now thriving and doing really well. Find out more by watching the video below:
David is the founder of the City of Lichfield Friends who organise events that allow the community to come together to enjoy free activities. David has applied for a YouCan grant that has allowed the City of Lichfield of Friends to bring people together for an Easter egg hunt, a lantern parade and a Christmas Fayre. The £300 that he was granted enabled around 60 families to enjoy a Christmas fayre, 80 people to build and get involved in the lantern parade and went towards ensuring the children involved in the Eater egg hunt all received free eggs at Easter. David says that without the grant, they just wouldn’t be able to put on these events meaning that many children and families would miss out. Watch the video to find out more:
Lavinia Smith is chair of the Fox’s resident group and we talked to her about how a YouCan grant has helped bring the community together. With complaints of anti-social behaviour with regards to some of the youngsters who spent time on the local park, the group decided to apply for funding in an attempt to bring some community cohesion back to Fox Hollow Close. An initial grant from Comic Relief went towards planting some fruit trees around the play area and community garden which the local children and teenagers were really happy to get involved with. This success gave Lavinia and the residents group an idea to create an organic garden; that’s where YouCan came in. Lavinia’s neighbourhood coach explained to her that YouCan offers grants of up to £300 for community based projects and shortly after Lavinia had completed the straightforward application form. She used the money to get the organic garden off the ground and needs the funding to keep replenishing the stock of seeds and plants. She says that without the grant, she wouldn’t be able to do this. The organic garden is proving extremely popular with all ages. The whole community have enjoyed planting the seeds and watching them grow. The summer has seen everyone pulling together with the teenagers getting involved in some of the heavy work, the younger children planting and watering with parents being really supportive of the project. Building the garden and watching the fruit and vegetables grow has really helped the whole community come together with good relationships being formed and the plan for the future is to put on some cooking sessions using the organic produce so everyone can enjoy the fruits of their labour [...]
A couple of years ago Amy applied for a YouCan grant for an upcycling project to help bring more people into Gatis Community Space. Her aim was to teach children aged 12 and over to refashion their clothes with an emphasis on ethical consumerism and sustainability. After carrying out some taster sessions to find out what people were really interested in, the upcycling workshop mutated into a craft workshop. Two years on, we decided to catch up with Amy to find out how things have progressed since receiving the grant. The community centre has become a hub of activity for the children and adults in the local area. Amy says: “Gatis Community Space is the only community centre in the area so it’s great to see lots of people getting involved in these activities and using the place again; and the YouCan grant has really helped us achieve this, cementing a strong community spirit.” She says Gatis Community Space is a place where the community comes together, to share their skills, knowledge and experiences and wants to introduce as many things to the centre as possible. Not only has the grant encouraged more people to go along to Gatis Community Space, it’s also helped Amy to build her confidence. Struggling with social anxiety when she started volunteering at the centre, she gradually started feeling better the more she worked with people, eventually leading to her being given the opportunity to become a volunteers’ manager at the centre. Amy said: “It really helped that Maria, who runs the centre, showed a great deal of belief in me. When she offered me the opportunity to become volunteers’ manager I wasn’t sure that I could do it. I’ve never done [...]
Darren really enjoys being outside. He loves maintaining and looking after his garden and when it became obvious that his next door neighbour was struggling to keep on top of his garden and wasn’t making the best use of his outside space Darren offered his help. With a bit of hard work he got it looking like a garden again, and now the neighbour has a nice open-plan space for his children to play in. Darren said: “When I met with my neighbourhood coach, Sinead, I mentioned that I'd taken on the neighbour’s garden and got it looking nice again. I told her how I like getting stuck in and said I’d thought about maybe starting up a side-line gardening business is my spare time. Sinead suggested applying for a YouCan grant and mentioned that I could get up to £300 to help pay for garden tools and equipment if I was serious about the business and helping the community. She said this would be a good help to kick-start the business. Before After The online application process was really easy, even for a technophobe like me and I received the grant quicker than I expected. I already had a petrol lawnmower and a few tools so I used the grant to buy a bush cutter and some hedge cutters (long reach and normal ones). “Once I received the new tools I told Sinead and she set about linking me up with potential clients in the local community who needed help. Within a few days I had some customers and got to work helping them restore their gardens. Some of the gardens I worked on were very overgrown so it's [...]
Do you ever feel that there’s not enough information about what’s going on in your area? This was certainly the case for Beeches Community Group in Cirencester who were keen to make public information more widely available. They applied to YouCan for help with the creation of a community notice board as there are many people in neighbourhood who have no (or very limited) access to the internet or social media. In the area concerned, the closest noticeboard is around half a mile away on a route that gets very little use and the Beeches Community Group were keen to make public information and community interests more widely available to everyone. The group were awarded £300 towards the cost of the notice board that now means everyone in the neighbourhood, particularly the most vulnerable who have no access to the internet, can find what’s happening in the community. Lavinia Smith, of Birmingham applied for a £300 grant to help expand on a project where the residents of Fox Hollow Close were encouraged to grow their own fruit and vegetables – which proved really successful. Following on from the success of this project the group are now looking to expand this to develop an organic community garden. This will help to teach the residents of Fox Hollow Close all about growing their own food. The grant will go towards gardening materials and equipment they need to get the project started. They’ve got off to a fabulous start with a local charity donating seeds and six volunteers have already signed up to work in the community garden. Bright Beginnings Breastfeeding group Spark (Burntwood) CIC are looking to establish three new projects under the umbrella Bright [...]