Whitley Big Local asks for big ideas

Claire McEnoy, Whitley community development manager

Claire McEnoy, Whitley community development manager

The Whitley Community Development Association (WCDA) is looking for ideas from local residents about how to spend some of their million pound grant through a small grants programme.

The Local Trust, a charity funded by the National Lottery, have given £1 million to be spent over ten years in Whitley through the Big Local project. WCDA has been set up to manage this money and have earmarked £250 thousand over ten years to fund projects designed and run by the Whitley community.

“We only received the million pounds in August and we’ve spent a lot of effort designing a small grants application process to make sure it is both thorough and fair,” said Nicola Toomey, WCDA trustee, secretary and acting treasurer.  “We know that many people are not used to applying for money and might be put off by paperwork, so we’ll discuss their suggestions with them first and we can offer help with the form filling.”

Project applications that are eligible for funding will be published on their website so each suggestion can get feedback from the community before any decision is made.

People living in the northern part of Whitley, which includes parts of Katesgrove and Redlands, can also apply for WCDA small grants.

The Whitley Big Local plan
Area covered by the Whitley Big Local

The Whitley Big Local area (red) and the wider Area of Benefit (green)

The Whitley Big Local project has been running for over two years.

“The very first thing we had to do was come up with the Big Local community plan,” said Nicola Toomey. “This shows how we want to spend the money.  We’ve had two years consulting community groups and getting loads of input from everybody, and from that we got hundreds of ideas.”

“The main suggestion that came back was the need for somebody to really push for Whitley. We decided to employ a full time community development worker, Claire McEnoy (pictured), to deliver the Big Local project, co-ordinate volunteers and make sure everything was done properly.”

The café and social club
South Reading community centre

South Reading community centre

WCDA spent £30 thousand to redevelop the café and social club at the South Reading community centre on Northumberland Avenue.

“This bought us a share in the Whitley social club and café, and they return their yearly surplus to us for reinvestment in the community,” said Nicola Toomey. “Our main office is here and this is where we’re going to run our activities from. We hope this will become a place where people can come in, chat and get information as well as buy something to eat or drink.”

“We’re negotiating with Reading Borough Council about doing more work on the community centre. There are planned improvements to the parking area, disabled access and accessible loos. Our long term plan is to make the South Reading Youth and Community Centre the real heart of the community and a place that really meets people’s needs.”

Claire McEnoy, WCDA manager, can be contacted by email at cmcenoy@gmail.com or by phone on 07496 154842.


Links

  1. Facebook : Whitley Big Local and WCDA
  2. Twitter : Whitley Big Local
  3. The Local Trust
  4. Whitley Big Local community plan (PDF)
  5. Invitation to apply for a small grant (PDF)
  6. Small grants application form (PDF)
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