Typically applying for funding is not an easy or pleasant experience and it usually involves community groups going through a long-winded application process to receive a grant to support their project.

For some funds that we manage it’s still important to have these processes in place, but for smaller monetary awards we feel it is more important to make funding applications a lot simpler allowing groups to spend time on doing what they are there to do rather than spending hours filling out forms.

In the June edition of our fanzine we introduced our own FM Awards which strips away all the bureaucracy and simply asks groups to tell us what is great about their neighbourhood and how their group benefits the community.

Working alongside this is our innovative Cash 4 Graft Award programme which supports individuals’ ideas. Within every neighbourhood there are residents with great ideas to benefit their wider community. But traditionally the only way people could access funding was to go through the rigmarole of setting up a ‘constituted’ group.

Cash 4 Graft provides a small financial award of up to £250 to help buy equipment or hire facilities to help get ideas off the ground. The only criteria we set were: the idea must be backed by four residents and must be of benefit to the wider community.

All in all since last July, we have given over 50 awards and the impact has been truly amazing. In Great Lever in Bolton a ‘Pop In and Learn’ café was established in the old library building as a result of an idea by inspirational mum Wendy  Handley and our £250 Cash 4 Graft Award. The café soon attracted interest from other residents who set up craft workshops, card making, carol singing, baking classes and money saving workshops. Local Councillor Madeline Murray now hosts her regular surgeries in the café and local PCSOs expressed an interest in using the space to host community policing drop ins, whilst Irwell Valley Housing and Bolton Council have also been in touch to set up activities there.

This demonstrates that a little bit of help can go a long way. We want to continue to offer these awards but we need to raise money to do so. If you would like to support our initiatives please consider making a donation at www.forevermanchester.com/donate