The Wheels For All team and community members socialising at the community space in Cannop, Forest of Dean.

‘The bog blog’ – or, making your community space more welcoming

Here at Barnwood Trust we manage several different grants schemes, including our Community Spaces grants, which we give to help local groups to provide welcoming spaces, both indoors and outdoors, for everyone to enjoy.

Every month or so our Grants Advisory Panel meets to look at the applications we’ve received and decide which to support. If you’d been at our September meeting you’d have heard the lament, ‘We don’t want to be seen as the organisation that pays for accessible toilets!’

The Wheels For All team and members of the public enjoy the newly installed community space in Cannop, Forest of Dean

We want to use our funds to help make ‘inclusive and welcoming community spaces’ – isn’t providing ramps, wide doorways and accessible toilets part of that? Well, yes … but we want to do more than just help your village hall meet the requirements of the Equality Act.

We can fund projects that make your hall more accessible but we’d really like to hear your plans for making the space not just available, but welcoming, for everyone.

What can you do to make your application stronger?

To begin with, think about what you’re already doing. Talk to the groups who are using your hall now – the language class; the drama group; the keep fit class; the martial arts group; the U3A. Do they ‘go the extra mile’ to welcome people living with disabilities as members? Do they have stories to tell – perhaps about someone who until a few months ago hardly ever left their own home, but now, because of the skills they’ve learned within the group, has grown in self-confidence? Has the group helped people to overcome loneliness and become more outgoing?

Attendees at the Wheels For all opening event got a chance to try out the adaptive equipment during the celebration

What about the groups who aren’t currently using your hall?  Are they going somewhere else instead? Is there something about your hall that makes it unsuitable for them and will your project change that? Have you talked to them about their needs? Tell us – better still, ask them to tell us – how your project will make your hall attractive for them to use.

So, instead of asking Barnwood Trust to pay for your accessible toilets, think about how refurbishing your hall will make it not just more accessible, but a warm, friendly and welcoming place for everyone in your community – and how you can make this clear to us when you ask for our support.

Our free workshops are a great way to have fun while learning how we build belonging in Gloucestershire: see for more details.

Spaces funding programme

The Community Spaces Capital Grant is to help support communities or organisations that would like to develop inclusive community spaces: places where everyone is welcome to meet and do things together. ‘Everyone is welcome’ means that particular attention is given to helping people who are usually marginalised to feel that they belong in the community; for example, those with disabilities and mental health problems.

As part of our investment criteria Barnwood seeks outcomes for successful applicants to go ‘the extra mile’:

To learn more about the Community Spaces Capital Grant – visit this page.