£500,000 fund to strengthen communities

A £500,000 fund has been created to strengthen and develop the district's communities following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Connected Communities Fund will be used to support Malvern Hills District Council's aim to transform the way it works with residents, voluntary and community organisations.

Traditionally the council has identified faults or problems with an area and put in place services or solutions to fix them, which makes that community reliant on the local authority.

But the way communities joined together to support each other through the various lockdowns has revealed the tremendous work being done by voluntary organisations, charities, community groups and passionate residents.

The council now proposes to build on these strengths by investing in the right areas and developing existing 'assets' – which can be people, buildings or organisations – so communities can meet their own needs, become more sustainable and resilient.

The new £500,000 fund will be used to support projects around the themes of places, people and supporting charities and social enterprises.

Projects will be brought forward to consider for funding but some of the money will initially be spent on a new crowdfunding scheme to continue the council's investment in community projects. There will also be a new digital platform to improve engagement with residents so they play a greater role in how their neighbourhood develops.

A volunteer brokerage service will be supported and schemes such as the Good Neighbour Network will continue to be developed to bring people together and tackle social isolation. Working with the social sector the council intends to support efforts to tackle crimes most affecting communities, poverty, health inequalities and improvements to facilities and services for young people.

This work will be guided by the council's Connected Communities Strategy, which is set to be considered by councillors in October and will cover the next 20 years.

Cllr Tom Wells, Portfolio Holder for Community Services on Malvern Hills District Council, said: "Our vision is for all people to be able to thrive, connect with each other and give back to the place where they live. We want to build a society where people have a sense of control over their future and that of their community.

"This is true community development, helping places build on their strengths based on what matters most to residents.

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