The Mechanics’ Institution Trust – Grant received: £4,999  

The Trust was originally started to restore Swindon’s Mechanics’ Institute, which provided a social space during the Victorian period. “It isn’t just about restoring the Institute though" comments Hannah Parry, the Trust’s Community Projects Manager. "It's about embracing what it stood for: helping to build a thriving community”.

Lockdown left the Trust unable to open its community centre and café, but this grant has allowed it to continue essential work with children from deprived areas of Swindon. With some areas of the town amongst the most deprived in the country, it was something the Trust was keen to support. From 10 - 21 August, it will be running two week-long summer youth projects for young people aged 12-13 and 14-16. These will take place at the Swindon Bowl in Town Gardens, allowing lots of room for social distancing and it’s free to join. Activities will include:

  • Music workshops and theatre games
  • Creating a podcast about life during lockdown
  • Wellbeing and yoga sessions
  • Arts and craft activities
  • Engaging in conversations about things going on in the wider world such as the environment

If you’re a young person or have a child that you think might like to join one of summer projects, visit the Facebook event page or contact Hannah Parry on hannah@mechanics-trust.org.uk. 

Picture courtesy of Swindon Advertiser

The Harbour Project - Grant received: £2,100

With over eighty volunteers, The Harbour Project supports more than 500 asylum seekers and refugees in the Swindon area who’ve risked their lives, families and homes fleeing war and persecution. It provides friendship, emotional support and advice on things such as navigating the legal system.

“Lockdown forced us to close in March", comments Claire Garrett, Chief Executive at The Harbour Project. "We were able to maintain some contact by telephone but people don't stop needing support just because of lockdown. For some, our services are their lifeline. For many, we’re their family.”

With the help of local businesses, it was able to provide food parcels to those who needed them most. But with isolation and language barriers just two obstacles faced by the community’s refugees and asylum seekers, face-to-face contact is as important as ever.

This funding will enable the Project to reopen its doors. It will purchase screen dividers, extra desks, and additional cleaning products, so people can begin to re-join English classes and attend drop-in sessions by appointment. Funding will also go toward securing the centre for the Project’s sole use for several months, giving the team confidence that everything is clean each day and people can work safely.

The Project is currently seeking donations to purchase tablets, wifi boxes and mobile phones to help those it supports keep channels of communication open. It also requires donations of day-to-day essentials such as toothbrushes, cereal and rice. To find out more, visit www.harbourproject.org.uk/help-in-other-ways 

STEP – Grant received: £3,320

STEP provides a safe and supportive environment for children and young people aged 7-18 experiencing isolation and exclusion in the Swindon area. This can be due to a lack of social skills, personal circumstances or poverty.

Individual needs are taken into consideration and referred children and young people are invited to join weekly sessions for a period of fourteen weeks. These therapeutic sessions cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Managing anger
  • Stress management
  • Friendships and peer pressures
  • Keeping safe in the home, school and community

STEP also runs projects for those who have experienced drug and alcohol abuse, and a group for young people with disabilities.

In March, lockdown forced its centre to close. It was able to maintain contact via telephone and email, but restarting face-to-face sessions was crucial. “Many children are experiencing difficult lockdowns at home”, comments Johanna Bryant, Project Director at STEP. "and with the new school year starting soon, a lot of young people are feeling increased anxiety over returning”. 

This funding has enabled STEP to purchase equipment and supplies, such as new desks and chairs, as well as additional cleaning materials to restart face-to-face sessions. 

If you’d like to donate to STEP or find out more, visit www.stepswindon.co.uk