WINNER! Idea #1: A party to bring together the diverse Southend community.
Communities & Asylum Seekers Together (CAST) is a new and evolving Southend-based community group, made up of asylum-seekers, refugees and the wider community. We are committed to exploring and supporting the needs of asylum seekers, as well as building harmony within the entire Southend community.
Our proposal is to hold a get-together for Southenders from refugee and other local communities to enjoy good company, yummy food and lots of fun.
This idea is important because: January is recognised as the most depressing month of the year. Imagine how much worse this is for refugees who have spent the festive season away from family and friends; possibly destitute and homeless. We want to bring people together not only to enjoy a few joyful hours but also to forge lasting links.
How funding would help: We are planning an all-day party in February, with afternoon activities for children, and music into the evening. This funding would go towards refreshments, materials for children’s activities and publicity leaflets.
Six months from now: We will nurture these relationships on a monthly basis, and hold a huge celebration in Refugee Week in June.
Idea #2: JustRide – traffic free cycling for all; with adapted bikes.
Set up by a group of cycling enthusiasts Justride enables everyone to enjoy cycling in safety. The group meets weekly at Southend Leisure & Tennis Centre, where people cycle around the running track – supported by volunteers. Supported by other local cycling organisations (such as Cycle Southend and the Comfy Saddle) Justride has purchased trikes and tandem bikes – opening up cycling to disabled people or people with health conditions.
This idea is important because: disabled people shouldn’t be disabled from taking part in sport and leisure. Justride provides a safe environment for people to enjoy cycling and improve their confidence. The scheme is for everyone – of any ability – including people who haven’t ridden before, or people who would like to cycle, but worry about traffic. It’s also fun and social; a way for people to build friendships.
How funding would help: We’d use funding to go towards buying more adapted equipment.
Six months from now: We’d love to be able to offer more sessions for more people.
Idea #3: Street Spirit Southend – supporting the Homeless
We are a non-profit-making Constituted Voluntary group who meet every Saturday evening in Clarence Rd car park to provide hot food and drinks, and other essential items, to those who are sleeping rough in our town, or who are living in vulnerable and volatile circumstances. As well as food, we provide clothing, sleeping bags and toiletries, as well as company, a friendly chat and a shoulder to lean on. We have a number of projects in mind for the future; one being the provision of lockers so that the guys sleeping on the streets can store their belongings safely without fear of them being lost, damaged or stolen. Much of their bedding gets wet, as you can imagine. This inevitably leads to health problems. We would also like to be able to provide a nutritious protein drink on a regular basis, such as Nutricia. We would also love to provide an allotment, on which we could work together with the rough sleepers to grow and supply our own produce.
This idea is important because: We rely entirely upon the generosity of the public in order to fund our project, and we occasionally organise events to raise funds. Our aim is to bring the community together, to show the homeless they are cared about and are not alone, and in doing so also support small local businesses and crafters. We would love to be able to extend our services, as it is clear that the needs of the homeless are many, complex and diverse.
We currently have no indoor premises, so our services are somewhat restricted. Poor health is a major issue for the rough sleepers. Wet shoes, clothing and bedding cause a number of problems, so lockers would help immensely. The allotment would create a positive project for anyone who needs focus and direction. It would bring together skills and ideas, and would be a rewarding activity in itself.
These are but a few of our ideas, as the extent of their needs is becoming increasingly evident.
How funding would help: We need to provide hot food on a weekly basis. We also purchase new underwear and blankets, and hygiene products such as toothpaste and wet wipes. Rucksacks are invaluable to rough sleepers, but are costly to buy. Funding would also enable us to purchase tools for our allotment.
Six months from now: We will continue to do our very best to provide and increase this service for our homeless friends. We understand that we are currently unable to change greatly the circumstances which lead to homelessness, but if we can improve the quality of life for as many as possible we are on the way making a change. We will grow and develop where the needs arise and continue to address as many of the issues surrounding homelessness as possible.