Byker-Participatory-Budget
From left, Voter Jean Wetherburn; Lou Grogan of Your Homes Newcastle; voter Louisa Loemba and David Jones, Head of Engagement and Community Development at BCT

Residents living on the Byker Estate in Newcastle upon Tyne have been invited to vote for the projects or schemes they think will make a difference in their community.

They were invited by the Byker Community Trust (BCT) to have a say in how the Trust’s new £20,000 Community Activities Fund should be awarded. Up to twenty small local projects and schemes submitted applications, bidding for a maximum of up to £2,000 per project.

Local residents from the estate have influenced how this money will be awarded after selecting their preferred top three projects in a vote, which was held at the Byker Community Centre last week.  Each group that submitted an application showcased their desired projects where they spoke to residents and answered any questions they had.

The new £20,000 Community Activities Fund makes up a small part of the BCT’s £1m Participatory Budget Scheme, through which £145,000 was awarded to community projects in 2014 and £158,000 awarded in 2013.

The aim of the Community Activities Fund, which was launched this year, is to provide support to smaller organisations to help get their projects off the ground.

David Jones, Head of Engagement and Community Development at the BCT, said:

“This is the first year we have made funding available through the Community Activities Fund, which is aimed at supporting smaller projects or schemes in Byker that aim to make a difference in the community and need help with funding to support them.

We have received a very good response from local projects bidding for up to a maximum of £2,000 each therefore, ten or more applications will be successful.  We invited anybody over the age of 11 to vote for their preferred project to ensure we are listening and responding to residents of all ages, young and old.  We also held the event during the school holidays to accommodate younger people and activities such as face painting and a free prize draw to win shopping vouchers was organised for everyone who attended.”

In the past, organisations like ACANE, One Love, the Byker Bowling Club and the Byker Community Centre have all received funding towards activities but the fund is open to organisations of all shapes and sizes so smaller clubs and groups can bid too.

The BCT has also engaged Louise McGlen, a grant support worker from the Newcastle Council for Voluntary Services (NCVS) to help those projects that are successful to grow their ideas but also offer help to those that are not successful by accessing grants and funding from elsewhere. Louise said:

“I’m working with the Byker Community Trust to enable people on the estate to develop and grow their project ideas which includes facilitating joint working to create a holistic vision of what life in Byker could be like.

“We have already begun to link some long term ideas together and advise groups of how to become more attractive to outside funders. There is a real buzz about the estate and an energy which is ready to be harnessed.”

The BCT will announce which projects have been successful next week.