Volunteer group in Grays recieve £300,000 worth of funding for 19 projects over next two years

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A COMMUNITY group of volunteers in Grays have received £300,000 of funding to implement 18 projects over the next two years.

The Riverside Community Grays Big Local is run by 15 local people from the area, aiming to engage the community through local projects.

Following the publication of a new two-year plan for the Riverside area, the group have been awarded a £300,000 share of National Lottery Funding.

Rob Groves, Community Project Officer, said: “150 areas were recognised as having a lack of funding, and these areas were encouraged to form a group and apply.

“The group of volunteers established a set of priorities for the area, and now we are in the process of moving from lots of ideas to form projects.”

Established two years ago, Rob said that they have spent a long time building the foundations and establishing relationships, and that they are now organised and ready to have an impact.

“People are very enthused with lots of our ideas. Plans actually empower people, they want to get stuck in and make a change.”

With funding secured, one of the first projects in the two year plan to be implemented will be a Pocket Park.
“After two years, the most exciting thing will be that within six months we will have a group of volunteers create something tangible in the new Pocket Park.”

Earlier this year the group organised the Grays Town Park Big Lunch which Rob said was a great day to get together and build relationships, and now with this funding they are ready to move forward.

“We have done all the groundwork, building relationships and getting organised.
“The last ten months have been about lining up the ducks, and now we can drive the projects forward.”
Other projects lined up involves taking over a local café at Grays Beach Park and hosting a pop up market at Queensgate Centre.

One project already up and running is Thurrock Soup, a social enterprise with a slight twist.
As well as offering homemade soups, there is also the opportunity for residents to pitch new business ideas that are voted on by all that attend.

The winner of the vote is awarded the pot of the day’s takings to go and explore their idea.
Rob said: “It is micro funding for small enterprises. The first winner offered out a recording studio two days a week to young people for free, they were all good ideas but he walked away with the money.

“It is a great opportunity to support a local business for a fiver. It’s inspiring social outcomes for the community.”

The next Thurrock Soup will be tomorrow at 6.30 in the Old Courthouse. For full details on projects visit www.riversidecommunity.org.uk

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