Sparks Grants Case Studies

We spoke to some of the successful applicants in the small Sparks grants scheme to find out what receiving up to £500 of funding will mean for them:

Ford Youth and Community Centre

Richard Williams, chair

“For this particular bid we targeted our youth work. We run a young martial arts class which is free for all participants. Child poverty is evident in our area, and many youngsters do come from difficult backgrounds, so we provide them with free martial arts training and the necessary kit. But running it is dependent on whether we can pull in enough money to keep us afloat. Five hundred pounds will pay the rent on the hire of the hall for a couple of months and it might buy some gloves for some of the young people.

“So some of that funding will go towards supporting our martial arts club and the other funding will go towards providing free sessions in our gym which is based in the Wolseley Business Park. We’re a long-established charity and we have a community gym on the Wolseley Estate and our main mission there is to target the most vulnerable in our community. So, subject to raising enough funds, we offer free membership for a number of weeks in the hope that it might change lifestyles and our gym manager has a special interest in supporting young and old people who are anxious or just lonely.”


1st Keyham (St Mark) Scout Group

John Davies, scout leader

“We’ve actually been successful in our application for two small grants and we also had success in applying for a large grant to fund a defibrillator and noticeboard.

“The first small grant is for pioneering equipment. A large aspect of scouting is team work and problem-solving and on our list of things to replace for a number of years now has been equipment to build things to encourage teamwork. So we can now buy proper equipment such as poles and ropes rather than using things such as broom handles and fence posts and bits and pieces we’ve cobbled together over time.

“And our second small grant will help with specialist equipment to start a new scouting group called Squirrels aimed at four to six-year-olds. Money will be used for making things more accessible for the very young in the toilets and storybooks and new stationery. It’s all about making the scouting experience for this age group more enjoyable and accessible.

“With our Squirrels group we will be looking at 130 plus youngsters accessing us every week so I like to think we’re making a difference. When you build up relationships you build up teamwork and aspirations and give youngster something to look forward to and that reduces crime and negative impacts on the community.”


Keyham Green Places (KGP) Food Bank

Paul Keller, community development manager

“We started the food bank in the middle of March 2020 and demand is very high. I have more than 400 names on our database and people can visit us on Mondays and Thursday, 9am to 2pm, and Fridays, 9am to 11am. Residents can just turn up at our door if they’re in financial need. We also send out deliveries to residents for three to four days’ worth of food but if they live too far away we suggest they go to somewhere more local. Over the phone I discuss if the person or members of their family have any allergies or special requirement such as cat food and on a few occasions I’ve delivered to people who look so thin I’ve had to arrange another delivery.

“This grant has bought more food and provisions and toiletries, sanitary towels and nappies etc but the sad truth is our food and supplies are going out quicker than we have coming in and we don’t see a lot of donations.

“If people want to donate we accept pretty much anything that is in date. If it’s vegetables our chef makes a vegetable soup and then it can be frozen. But we’re not a food bank, we are a community centre, this is one of the services we offer here.”


CW Holiday Club

Chris Weeks, club organiser

“The holiday club takes place at College Road Primary School and we have over 20 activities which are sports-based as well as crafts and cinema and reading. We’ve got some climbing apparatus in the playground and children can bring in their bikes and scooters.

“We rely a lot on some rather old equipment so the money will be used to buy some brand new gear which will be great for the youngsters so they will be able to get the best out of their day. It will also give us more freedom so we can buy other types of sports equipment and new books and craft bits and bobs and so on. Receiving the money has been a real boost for us and it will be massive to be able to say to the children, ‘Oh, you don’t have to wait for so-and-so to finish with this equipment, you can use this now.’ There will be enough in place for everyone to be doing the same activity at the same time.

“We hope to have the equipment ready for the February half-term otherwise it will certainly be there for the Easter holidays. I’ve been running the holiday clubs for coming up to three years now and we have between 20 to 30 children attending every day.”