Giving Back to the Good guys.

A couple of Saturdays ago we went to a new event – Wythenshawe You Decide – at the Lifestyle Centre in Wythenshawe Manchester.  The idea of the day was part of a wider way that some police forces across the country are supporting community groups.  Greater Manchester Police had £15,000 available to bid for and Manchester City Council had provided match funding.  A small steering group from N-Gage prepared for this event over a number of weeks and received input from trainers who had successfully facilitated similar projects in other areas.

The £30,000 was up for grabs for local organisations doing good work in the community to help support their work by demonstrating community benefit to the area of Wythenshawe.  Groups were invited to submit an application form that was scored and those that met the grade were invited to attend the Saturday event.

On the day, groups could provide no more than three representatives to stand at the front and pitch their idea to the audience. I’d say there were about 50-60 people who turned up. I think about 27 groups stood at the front and pitched their ideas. The audience each had a score card and the groups with the most votes won.  As I had been involved in planning the event I ruled myself out of any involvement in our bid.  Zoe Ridsdill, our Catalyst Project Worker (Catalyst is our detached youth work project), wrote the application and invited two young people from the area to stand at the front and pitch with her.  They all spoke brilliantly and explained the difference us working with them has made, the problems we were helping to reduce and the support we have been giving local young people in Northenden, an area of South Manchester without a huge amount of youth provision. I felt so proud of the young people.  It was a big ask to get them to stand up and speak in front of so many people.

After the pitches we networked with other bidders while the decisions were drawn up.  The organisers drew the raffle prizes that had been donated by local businesses and one of the young people we brought won the biggest hamper I had ever seen.  As part of our bid we had asked for £3000 to carry on our work in Northenden and we were successful in winning the whole amount.  This means that our project in the area will be able to carry on for at least another twelve months which is particularly brilliant and timely news as the previous funding we had for this work had been due to run out the following week.

One final thing to add is that the money provided by Greater Manchester Police for these groups to bid for has come from the proceeds of crime money.  What a great idea: take away from people who are seeking to destroy communities and pass it on to groups that are doing good and helping people to be a positive part of their communities!