A charity that is driving social and environmental change has invested more than half a million pounds in the Calderdale area in the last 18 months.
Projects and community groups in and around the Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Halifax areas have successfully applied for match funding from Newground Together to the tune of £584,647.
Newground Together, which is part of Newground, supports projects interested in improving and enhancing the environment, tackling rural regeneration, providing leisure and recreation facilities in the interest of social welfare, supporting education and training and improving the life chances of young people.
Eligible organisations that deliver community-based projects that meet the charity’s goals can apply to Newground Together’s grants programme for match funding.
Peter Jordan, Executive Director of Newground Together, said: “Launched just 18 months ago, Newground Together’s grants programme is providing funding to many grassroots organisations that are contributing to the creation of better neighbourhoods, are creating more jobs and training, and are improving health and well-being.
“The feedback that we are getting from many of our beneficiaries is that securing match funding from Newground Together acts as the catalyst for securing financial support from other funding streams at a time when many funding sources are facing cutbacks.”
Peter added: “In such a short time we have had a huge impact on the communities we serve. There are some fantastic projects that are being delivered and many people are benefiting thanks to the funding provided.”
Here are a couple of local projects where Newground Together is making a difference:
The Incredible Aqua Garden
The nutritional benefits of growing and eating fresh fruit and vegetables are being shared with a Todmorden community by an innovative social enterprise.
The Incredible Aqua Garden, which received around £28,500 in match funding from Newground Together, has been working with local residents in Todmorden to promote healthy eating, well-being and personal growth.
On the Ashenhurst Estate, where Pennine Housing 2000 has many homes, the funding has been used to support the work of Incredible Aqua’s food inspirer. Pop-up cooking events and Pass-it on cookery sessions are some of the activities that have been organised.
Younger families were targeted to encourage mums and dads to ditch takeaways and pre-packaged process foods and opt for tasty, home cooked foods. Older residents at risk of loneliness and isolation were identified and encouraged to join in with activities.
Áine Douglas, manager of the Incredible Aqua Garden, said: “Newground Together’s funding has enabled us to work more holistically within the community. We have been able to identify what was needed on the Ashenhurst estate and take steps to improve the health and well-being of local people.”
The grant has also been used to fund two horticultural apprentices at the aquaponics, hydroponics and permaculture centre, based behind Todmorden High School.
The apprentices are learning all aspects to do with growing vegetables, herbs and micro-greens using hydroponic (growing plants without soil in water) and aquaponic (which adds fish to the water providing organic fertiliser) and techniques.
Apprentice Martyna Krol turned to horticulture after she tired of working in the tourism industry.
She said: “The apprenticeship is a great way for me to learn about these ancient methods of growing food and general horticultural practices. I’d never heard of aquaponics before but it is fascinating.
“This has given me the opportunity to escape the rat race and working in the city. This is giving me a better quality of life and I am finding out so much more about nutrition and healthy eating.”
Photo caption: Áine Douglas, manager of the Incredible Aqua Garden, with apprentice Martyna Krol at the Incredible Aqua Garden in Todmorden.
Mixenden Parents’ Resource Centre
Newground Together funding has proved to be a “life line” for Mixenden Parents’ Resource Centre, which was under threat of closure before their grant was secured.
Located near Halifax, Mixenden is one of Together Housing Group’s most deprived communities, where Pennine Housing has more than 300 homes on the estate.
The parents resource centre is a popular community hub where local people can access training, a crèche and weekly lunch clubs that provide low cost, healthy meals for older residents.
The activities encourage social integration as well as providing a first point of contact to other services such as job clubs, legal help, support workers and housing officers.
Liz Childs, centre manager, said: “The funding really has been a life line for the centre. There are no other facilities in the area that provide the help and support local people need all under one roof.
“Mixenden is a close knit community and the people who live here are passionate about the centre, without the centre local people would have nothing. Its success really is down to them.”
The £34,492 match funding provided by Newground Together is put towards the cost of an advice worker, training sessions, the second lunch club, crèche staff and running costs.
Talking to local residents it soon becomes clear what the centre means to them.
Trevor Pearce started using the centre five years ago when his daughter attended the crèche and jokes he has been a resident there ever since. He has completed training in IT, first aid, food safety, and fire safety, and now runs the basic IT training course.
He said: “I’m 45 years old and have lived on a number of housing estates and I have never before come across a centre quite like this one.
“Local people can come here and learn. There is a brilliant atmosphere and everyone is so polite and friendly. The centre is fantastic and opens up a lot of possibilities for people.”
The second luncheon club, located on the ground floor of one of the tower blocks on the estate, officially opened in July 2015.