Building stronger communities with Aspire grants

Community groups in Sunderland are benefitting from a scheme which aims to offer funding to help local people.

Gentoo is offering grants to support voluntary and community groups, as well as individuals for a range of community-led causes.

People that have already benefitted from the funding include Easington Lane Community Access Point (ELCAP), Elemore Ladies’ Club, Easington Lane Senior Citizens’ Club and Easington Lane and Hetton Disabled Club.

These groups, which have been running for more than 45 years, decided to apply for Aspire grants in the hope of improving ELCAP’s facilities as they are based there.

The funding has allowed the members to purchase equipment in the hope of attracting more people to use the Centre while reducing social isolation.

Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director (Operations) said: “At Gentoo, we believe in inspiring people to make a difference in their community.

Aspire grants are accessible to anyone living or working with local people in Sunderland, and they provide a great opportunity for people to make a positive difference, whether that be through community groups, sports clubs or social events.

She added: “The funding not only improves relationships within and between communities, but local residents are involved in the decision-making process, so ultimately the grants are decided by local people to support local people of all generations.”

Due to the funding, the groups have now been able to purchase a screen, projector, radio microphone and tables which will allow further events to take place for all ages within the community.

Shaun Newton, ELCAP Centre Co-ordinator, said: “The Aspire funding demonstrates Gentoo’s commitment to supporting community life.

“The welfare hall is now a multi-use building thanks to the four grants each of the community groups have received.

He added: “We are hoping to develop a community cinema, which means we can attract more people to the Centre and it helps bridge the generational gap, bringing older and younger people together to strengthen our community.”

Celebrating their collaborative achievements, a Nostalgia event was held at ELCAP this week, inviting residents from the local community of all ages to join them for an afternoon of High Tea.

Launched in 2003, Aspire grants offer up to £500 and have benefitted many groups and organisations since that time, including art, music and drama clubs, children’s and young people’s clubs, local football clubs, older people’s clubs and resident and community associations.