Our Communities

We all interact with our local community every day – whether it’s through work, popping to the shops, taking the children to school or just saying hello to a neighbour. Our communities are important and here at the Heart of England Community Foundation we pride ourselves on delivering much needed grassroots funding through small grants to voluntary and community groups working in disadvantaged areas.

The joint knowledge and enthusiasm that comes from supporting those who deliver these projects really allows us to focus on our community’s greatest needs. The success of this collaborative approach within our communities is making a real difference.


Below are just some of the local projects that we have helped. Simple click on an image to read more!

Jumping Through Hoops

Jumping Through Hoops – Large Grants

Jumping Through Hoops supports organisations, in Coventry, who work with young adults aged 18-30 who live in Coventry and who experience some form of disadvantage. This may include being at risk of homelessness, transition to independent living, unemployment, lack of skills, qualifications and opportunities, mental ill health, unhealthy lifestyles, crime and anti-social behaviour etc. The following projects have been awarded grants through the programme.

Arty Folks – Awarded: £75,000 – ‘Making Headwayis a weekly therapeutic art group for young adults 18-30 yr old who are struggling with mental ill health in Coventry. The group runs every Tuesday 1pm-3pm throughout the year and can be started any time. A wide range of fine art practices including sculpture, painting, collage, photography, textile, etc. will empower each person to tell their story of recovery through their own visual and verbal language. Making Headway supports young people to gain confidence and achieve mental well-being while building a rich personal art portfolio that will enable them to access art courses, volunteering, further education and employment. For more information contact 024 7414740 or info@arty-folks.co.uk

Bardsley Youth Homelessness Project – Awarded £75,000 – We work with homeless young people aged 25 and under as they navigate the often complex systems involved in finding accommodation and keeping it. From our city centre base, we help sort whatever is needed to encourage the young person to find solutions – advice & support, internet & phone access, paperwork difficulties, referrals to supported accommodation providers, money management, life skills, going with young people to appointments and more. We also have food, furniture, household goods and clothing banks as well as a laundry and shower room for more practical support as things get sorted. We are developing links with schools via our wider youth project and want to do homelessness preventative work in the future. For more information go to www.bardsleyyouth.org, email pat@bardsleyyouth.org or phone 07943 688760.

Coventry and Warwickshire Media Community Ltd – Awarded: £75,000 – Thanks to Jumping Through Hoops, Radio Plus is able to offer our six week media and job readiness training course for young adults, called Routes to Employment, until the end of 2019. In early 2017 we will also be launching Lifepath, a new mentoring scheme for young adults. Routes to Employment runs three times a year for 6 weeks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from our Community Media Hub in Hertford Place, Coventry. The next course starts on 31st January 2017. Lifepath offers unconditional friendship and guidance from a trained volunteer who will make a 1 year commitment for at least 2 hours a week to help guide each young adult towards a more settled future. Contact: studio@radioplus.org.uk or phone 024 7771 2401

Carriers of Hope – Awarded: £29,996 – Carriers of Hope works with asylum seekers, refugees and Roma migrants from Eastern Europe. The Young Adult Worker will engage with all of our current and new members aged 18-30 years. Pregnant women will be supported through the provision of baby equipment. Home visits will be undertaken to assess needs, to prioritise those who most need help. A new “Learning to speak English together through play” group will be started for young parents and their children. Young Adults will be recruited as volunteers to support their peers. For more information and contact details visit www.carriersofhope.org.uk or call 024 7645 6356.

Doorway – Awarded: £70,000 – Doorway is an independent Warwickshire charity which aims to give homeless young people a future through advice, accommodation options, support and life skills development. Doorway was delighted to be awarded with the Jumping Through Hoops grant which will help young adults overcome homelessness and learn independent living skills. More information about Doorway and our other services can be found at www.doorway.org.uk. Referrals can be made through our website, by telephoning 02476-345583 or by calling into Doorway’s Drop-in Centre at 25/27 Dugdale Street, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV11 5QJ.

EGO Performance Company Ltd – Awarded: £75,000 – Bold as Bard and Bold Productions are open to 18-30 year olds not in employment, education of training, or with a registered disability, and provide opportunities to learn new skills and boost confidence. Bold as Bard works with RSC Associate Artist and Award winning actor Katy Stephens, professional actor and voice coach John Fagen and EGO Performance Company. This is a brand new opportunity to explore the dramatical works, style and language of William Shakespeare in a weekly workshop. Bold Productions is an opportunity to join a theatrical arts production team. Building props, sets, producing original artworks, painting, model making, crafts and scenic arts are all covered. There are four working groups working with residential professional artists. More information can be found at www.egoperformance.co.uk, by telephoning 024 76226060, or by calling in to EGO Arts Venue, Cook Street, Coventry, CV1 1JN.

The Godiva Awakes Trust – Awarded £75,000 – Transformations:’Going Underground’. This programme is being run following two successful pilot projects by Imagineer Productions . It is a performance and construction project for 18-30 year old NEETS young people which involves working on an authentic commission with professional artists as well as professionals from other sectors. The theme this year is Transformations Goes Under Ground and will culminate in an event somewhere in the City as yet to be decided by the group. The project involves learning new making and construction skills, performance and event and location management combined with personal development, individual goal setting and preparations for independent living. Some of the young people taking part are learning disabled and some suffer from recurring mental health issues. We believe that being part of this project will help everyone develop their confidence and overcome some of the barriers to their progression. The project began with 14 young people on Tuesday February 14th at The Daimler Powerhouse and will take place over a period of six months with two sessions per week. We welcome new young people throughout the duration of the project. For further information please contact Jane Hytch 07809 429619 www.imagineerproductions.co.uk

Kairos Women Working Together – Awarded: £75,000 – KairosWWT’s Feeling Safe Project provides a range of support to help young women aged 18-24 recognise sexual exploitation, identify risks and seek help when needed. We offer an educational programme, 1-1 sessions, information and guidance and with funding from Jumping Through Hoops, practical support and a peer mentoring programme.

WATCH Ltd – Awarded: £75,000 – Music Leads to Work – is a unique Radio & Media Project offering individuals the opportunity to gain new transferrable skills, and work experience which will not only benefit them in job roles within media and radio but across a range of employment opportunities or training. This innovative project aims to support disadvantaged young people aged 19-29 through a 4-12 week programme in all aspects of radio broadcasting, music, and media production, tailored to suit the needs of participants. Our experienced advisors will provide one to one mentoring support to help individuals overcome barriers to employment including; job search, creating an effective CV, interview techniques, personal development, and access to other training. Find out more at: www.watchcharity.org.uk or www.hillzfm.co.uk or call 02476550564

Foleshill Womens Training – Awarded £74,960 – to run ‘Smash IT!’ which will enable them to engage young BME women from across Coventry, and offer a targetted programme of Social, Health and Economic support. They will undertake community engagement to find hard to reach and isolated women, and support them towards positive employability outcomes, through Confidence Building, Basic IT, Wellbeing Workshops, Volunteering, and Jobs Club. They want to ‘Smash’ barriers down together! www.fwt.org.uk

Roman Baby Support

Roman Baby Support

After running a pilot session of the baby support hub the need for it became evident as the numbers grew and grew.

The sessions support new mums and grandparents through the first few months and beyond.

The team at the hub are experienced from previous roles and encourage the mums in every way possible.maternity unit at George Elliott Hospital so mums are aware and can access the sessions as soon as they feel ready.

Supported by the Coventry Building Society Fund, the hub has been able to expand its provision and open an extra session a week.

They teach baby massage, discuss feeding /sleeping issues and anything else the mums and babies need.

They also have had grandparents attending giving a real intergenerational mix.

One mum said; ““I was nervous the first time I came as I didn’t know anyone but since then it has been fine. I’ve made new friends and we even meet up outside the sessions now.”

Angling Unlimited

Angling Unlimited

Angling Unlimited’ s project ‘Hooked on Learning’ engages vulnerable and disabled young people at the risk of exclusion from education.

They’ve worked with both the local police and education departments as well as consulting with young people to identify need.

During the project, 10-19 year olds with a range of issues who were disengaged in their education, having problems in school or anger management issues etc. participated in an accredited angling course.

This is one participant’s story:
‘Sam’ is 13 years of age and living in foster care due to his Mother, a single parent, being unable to support him and his siblings because of her drug and alcohol addiction. Sam also has ADHD/Autism and suffered from a lack of self-esteem. As a result, he had found it hard to fit into many lessons at school and was prone to temper fits when he felt he couldn’t cope in lessons or was ‘got at’ by his peers.

Whilst attending an alternative school provision, he was referred to the Hooked on Learning Project. After attending the sessions Sam’s behaviour in school improved. The fishing helped improve his self-confidence, taught him to stay calm and also to reconnect with his education.

He is now back in a mainstream school, doing well with his education. He has completed OCN Level 1 & 2 Angling Courses and will soon undergo a Level 2 Bankside Assistant Coaching qualification. This will help him develop his angling and social skills and allow him to help other young people.

Sam has also joined local Junior Coarse and Fly fishing Clubs, where he made new friendships.

Dwarf Sports Assc

Dwarf Sports Association

The Dwarf Sports Association use sport as a tool to bring people together who have a form of dwarfism, along with their families. They encourage them to take part in a variety of activities, so they can see that any activity is possible with minor adjustments. It also gives them the opportunity to meet with others with a similar condition and to make friends. Doing this allows them to grow in confidence from an early age and have a positivity to achieve great things in life. Families are able to build friends and support one another through the more difficult times. With a grant of £1,000 they have tried various new activities with skiing being a great success. The members had a great time trying something new, helping each other with the boots and skis. One parent said; “Trying these new activities have helped my son say ‘if I can do this what else can I do’ and his confidence has grown.”

Feedback after the session was very positive with members saying;

“We had a wonderful time. The girls could not stop talking about it and want to know when they can go skiing again.”

“Thanks for an amazing day at the Ackers today. Harrison had the time of his life!”

Gatis Gardners

gardenersGatis Gardners

Gatis Gardeners wanted to develop a Community Gardening Club to encourage local people to get involved and grow plants. They found that their project did a lot more than that. This is their story;

Mrs X regularly brought her grandson to the centre during open play sessions; she would sit quietly in a corner of the café, not talking to anyone, not buying a cup of tea, just sitting whilst her grandson played. This carried on into the summer holidays where she arrived every day and had a general air of sadness about her.

As the group began to talk to her they discovered was she was unemployed, suffering with depression; she was also the main carer for her grandson who lived with his mother in her house but they were moving away at the end of the holidays to a new city. This meant that she would be left behind, alone.
Gradually over the weeks she was encouraged to get involved with the gardening club whilst the grandson played, and bit by bit she came out of her shell. She loved working outdoors and really just needed something to do, something to fill her time with, she started smiling and laughing and joining in.

When September came around and her grandson and daughter left, she carried on attending the club nearly every day. Some days she would just sit with a cup of tea and have a chat but most days she turned into a gardening ninja and was the best leaf collector they had ever had! The effect of gardening on her wellbeing was evident in her improved confidence and others at the group watched her change from a shadow in the background to a loved team member who could be relied upon to crack a joke and even encourage other group members to get more involved.

She was able to regain her dignity and feel she had a place in society despite her whole world turning upside down. She has now moved on to volunteering with another organisation and woman’s group locally. The group hope to see her return to the garden again soon.

The Gatis Gardeners grew more than just plants.

Criminon UK

Criminon UK

Criminon UK aim to improve the social welfare of offenders and ex-offenders by assisting them in their education and rehabilitation. The organisation are currently supporting two prisons HMP Oakwood and HMP Featherstone, in Wolverhampton.
They received funding to support their courses including the Understanding and Overcoming Addiction Course which has become their most successful and popular course with 60% of students opting to take it.

The brilliance of the course is that it helps offenders to help others so the ripples of help spread outwards.

Some quotes from participants are:
“This course has kept me motivated to change It has given me a better understanding of addiction, in turn this has given me the skill to help other people in addiction more importantly it has kept me clean.”
L.B., HMP Oakwood

“The course understanding & overcoming addiction has benefitted me in more ways than one. I have recently applied for a job as a drug and alcohol peer mentor. I have always wanted to help people and doing this course has made more knowledgeable about drugs and their effects to one’s life. It has also made me feel & think differently about drugs.”
T.M., HMP Featherstone

“Doing this course I have realised why I used drugs in the first place and why I was unable to stop for so long. I no longer desire to take drugs and will hopefully be able to use what I have learned from this course to help friends of mine to quit drugs.”
R.S., HMP Featherstone

Ups of Downs

<h3 style=”color: #e6007e;”><img class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-2070″ src=”http://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Photo-FA5A2538-200×300.jpg” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”300″ />The Ups of Downs</h3>
The Ups of Downs support families across Warwickshire who have a child with Down syndrome and they presently have 53 members, ranging in age from a few weeks to 12 years of age. They aim to empower parents to give their child every opportunity to develop, flourish and achieve by providing each parent with the knowledge, confidence, ability and resources. Having a child with Down syndrome is an unknown entity for most parents so we run a range of activities promoting development, awareness and inclusion.
A grant from the Love Leamington Fund has helped support the provision of the Saturday Club.

This is one participants story:
I have a 5 year old who comes to Saturday clubs every week and what a game changer it has been for my son. My son started walking at 3 years old but until last year he would only take a few steps and then flop to the floor. Doing sports in Saturday club has definitely triggered a change in him. He is now on his feet for at least 20 minutes out of his 30 minute session (which is no mean feet). He still finds ways to catch balls while sitting but I can see his mind at work there trying to solve a problem. He has learnt to say Hi five to his friends (at the club) and their parents and isn’t afraid of groups now. Above all, he is developing friendships that I hope he will nurture for a long time. Life, as a parent of a child with additional needs, can be lonely and daunting and many a time terrifying. For me and my family, these sessions give me time to share my concerns with other like minded people, learn what else can be done for our kids, plan new activities and above all give me hope for a better future.

Just Straight Talk

<h3 style=”color: #e6007e;”><a href=”http://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/JustStraightTalk.jpg”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-1759 alignleft” src=”http://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/JustStraightTalk-300×300.jpg” alt=”juststraighttalk” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>Just Straight Talk</h3>
Just Straight Talk supports the hardest to reach groups with the practical support and motivation they need to enable their return to education, training, and sustainable employment. They were awarded a grant of £13,234 from the European Social Fund Community Grants to offer support to ex-offenders aged 19-30. The project aimed to help them to move closer to employment by taking part in an eight week training course focusing on basic construction and employability skills.

Men in Sheds!!

meninshedsMen in Sheds!!

Friendship, skills and self-esteem are amongst the things that have developed out of the new Art Alert project ’Men in Sheds’. A group of local men wanted to create a group where they could meet every week to share and learn skills from each other, giving the opportunity to create. Many are retired, some unemployed and they wanted to do something to tackle the loneliness and isolation that some were experiencing.

Activities were mainly woodwork based to start with but they plan to incorporate more skills as the group develops. The Heart of England Fund supported the group with a grant to help with set up costs, promotional material and specific equipment. The Group has been a great success and participated in town centre events like Nuneaton Lives. They have run stalls at local fetes as a means of promotion and fundraising. They were asked to make planters for George Elliot Hospital and have made and donated birdhouses to local schools.

Sock & Chocs

socksSocks & Chocs

Socks & Chocs is a Birmingham based project that provides socks, sleeping bags, hats, gloves, underwear and chocolates to rough sleepers in and around the West Midlands. It was started by a policeman who wanted to help the people he saw sleeping rough every night whilst on duty. Their service users are grateful for any items they provide especially the socks and sleeping bags. Socks to help them with trench foot and sleeping bags to keep them warm at night (especially now as the seasons have changed and nights are getting colder)

So far in 2016 over 6,000 pairs of socks and over 4,000 boxes of chocolates have been given out as well as 102 sleeping bags and hundreds of miscellaneous items.

One well known rough sleeper in the area was offered socks, chocks and a sleeping bag. He seemed embarrassed at the thought and said “Save them for those that really need them” The team managed to persuade him to have some socks as he “liked to travel light”. “I’m getting old and it’s getting cold” he said.

YMCA Sutton Coldfield

ymcasuttonYMCA Sutton Coldfield

Through the youth club at the YMCA six young people were recruited to become Leaders for Life. Their mission as young leaders was to plan and deliver a community event in Kingstanding. The young people were very excited at the prospect of doing it all themselves and when they first met together as a group, decided it would be important to lay out some ground rules for the group to include acceptable behaviour and respect.

In no time at all the group had made an informal contract between themselves, that they and the supporting staff signed and agreed to with assigned tasks to be completed before the next meeting.

With a grant of £5,000 from the Spirit of 2012/Fourteen Fund the group delivered a fantastic fun day, with up to 200 visitors. The day featured sports and games delivered by the YMCA sports rangers, free teas and coffees, a hot and cold food vendor, and giant inflatables. The young people also organised a raffle and a “guess the name of the teddy bear” competition. They were incredibly proud of their achievements and went on to inspired other young people in the community to sign up for the next Leaders for life programme. Being young leaders inspired two of the young people to become YMCA volunteers during the half term holidays to work on a Holiday Programme for 5-11 year olds. They are now working towards careers working with children and young people.

Carers UK

carerCarers UK – Birmingham

Carers UK Birmingham used the grant to develop their coffee mornings into a new format which they launched as a ‘Carers’s Café’. Their previous work had showed how valuable it is for carers to meet other carers to share experiences, advice and to give mutual support.

Attendance to the sessions has increased and they are now reaching ‘hidden’ carers, those who have not considered themselves to be carers before as they were just looking after a loved one.

One story from the project is ‘Shelia’
‘Shelia’ saw an advert for the café at a local supermarket and decided to give it a go. Caring for a husband with dementia she was struggling to cope with the affects of his condition, not only on him, but on her own health as well. She lived in a retirement complex but felt she did not really benefit from the facilities there. At the café she met a lady who not only lived in the same complex but was also caring for a husband with dementia. Now they both regularly attend the café together and share both tears and laughter. ‘Shelia’ has not only learned about the help and support she can access for herself and her husband but has also made new friends.