08 MAY 2018

Helen promotes rural community funding opportunity

The Prince's Countryside Fund is offering grants of up to £50,000 to rural community groups in Maidstone & The Weald.

Applications opened on April 30th for community groups and charities to apply for grant funding of up to £50,000 from The Prince's Countryside Fund, until June 14th 2018. The Fund is committed to supporting projects which will reinvigorate and sustain community networks, by providing services and amenities.

Claire Saunders, Director of the Fund said: "This is a critical time for people and businesses in our rural areas, and we are seeking applicants for our grant programme who can help to ensure that their rural communities can thrive now and in the future. "We want to hear from innovative and creative community led projects that are responding to local needs and would urge people to consider applying. Whether this is bringing new life to your village shop and pub, increasing access to rural employment and training, or bringing together farming communities, we would love to hear from you."

MP for Maidstone & The Weald Helen Grant welcomed the opportunity saying 'The health and sustainability of rural communities is vital in my Garden of England constituency. Money from this fund is also available for projects that will improve the prospects of viability for family farm businesses, for example by providing training or education schemes and I really hope our people will be able to benefit from this opportunity'.

'The success of this funding from last year's offering may inspire people from the Low and High Weald to make an application. For example, volunteering in Shropshire's community run Beckbury Shop was supported by The Fund in 2017. Local resident Inez said "it has been the best thing I've ever done – it's given me a new sense of get up and go". Having been housebound for several years following two operations, Inez now volunteers twice a week'.

The fund has also been used to inspire careers in the rural sector, through the training of disengaged young people in Practical Outdoors and Employability skills. Organisations that directly support agriculture are eligible too; The Farmer Network in Cumbria has run schemes to encourage young people to develop farming enterprises, through their 'Business Support For Young People' programme, as well as providing ongoing assistance to farming families.

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