Awards with a difference at Forever Manchester

Community Builder Graeme Urlwin tells why Forever Manchester’s approach is different.

Before I came to Forever Manchester I was at the other end of the funding process.  I was the  person writing the bids.

If successful, the money would soon be spent and it was time to start making new bids to continue the new activity the original bid had funded.

It’s an eternal treadmill and many funding-dependent organisations have folded over the last few years as funding sources have dried up.

At Forever Manchester there is a focus upon assets and how the pooling of skills and resources can lessen the need for funding.

When I came to Forever Manchester and was introduced to Cash 4 Graft – awards of £250 for grass roots start-up activity – I was sceptical. ‘What can £250 do?’

Over the last 18 months I’ve learnt that £250 can do a lot and that interesting things happen without a great big fat grant behind them.

Cash 4 Graft is designed to support local people to get an activity off the ground in their locality. They don’t have to be a formal group, have a constitution or even a bank account, just four people behind a good idea.

There’s a simple application form and, when successful, you’re given a credit card with £250 already on it, so there’s no worry about overspending. The whole process can be turned around in just over a week.

Since I’ve been working in Harpurhey and Moston Cash 4 Graft has helped set up a diabetes support group; take 45 kids to the local panto; support the development of a new foodbank; bring a disparate community together on a housing estate; help a dementia group buy some resources; funded craft sessions with older people. The list goes on.

But for me it’s not necessarily about the activity that is supported, it’s more about the process of applying for a Cash 4 Graft, and what that achieves for the people involved.

When local people discover that there’s a bit of money available, and it’s exclusive to them, it gets them thinking about what they could do. That leads to new ideas and enthusiasm and the money becomes irrelevant.

With the pooling of resources and skills, and a bit of begging and borrowing, their idea can happen without the need for funding.

The process has shown them that ‘we can’t afford to do it’ is no longer a valid reason for not doing something. The process itself gives groups and individuals confidence.

Local people coming to us for an application form are usually completely new to anything like that. Just the thought of sitting down to write a funding application can be daunting. But having done it, and been awarded the money, gives people confidence and self-belief which carries them forward.

To make a Cash 4 Graft application from Forever Manchester click here

More from Graeme next week as he tells how local people have benefited from Cash 4 Graft awards.

Photo by Anthony Bradley.