New grants programme to change people’s lives

Merton Council, in partnership with the local voluntary sector, has developed an innovative grants programme to fund borough-wide voluntary sector initiatives which will empower people to live independent and fulfilling lives and live in their own home for as long as possible.

Through its new programme, the council called on voluntary sector organisations to submit bids for funding, demonstrating how their proposed service would result in people’s increased independence.

Examples of services to benefit from funding include:

· A support service offered by Age UK to those who need advice on incontinence – a condition which many people are reluctant to speak about.

· A network of volunteer drivers developed by Merton Community Transport who can transport people to where they need to be in Merton.

· A borough-wide network of community advisers designed by Wimbledon Guild to support people who, for example, may be feeling isolated because of bereavement, or who are finding being a carer challenging.

· A mentoring and buddying scheme developed by MertonVision. Blind and partially-sighted residents link up with other blind or partially-sighted people (a buddy) to advise on how to shop for themselves, use transport and access the services they may need or provision made for sight-impaired people.

· A neighbourhood carer peer support network set up by Carers Support Merton to enable carers to support each other through their common concerns and issues.

Leader of Merton Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “Unlike many other councils, we are retaining our adult social care grant funding of £1million. We have agreed this very practical programme with the voluntary sector under the nationally-recognised and award-winning Merton Compact principles which set out to provide quality services to the people of Merton through partnership with the voluntary sector.”

Chief executive of Merton Voluntary Service Council Chris Frost said: “Merton is bucking the national trend by retaining grants and continuing to invest in its local voluntary sector. Over the past couple of years there has been a shift in the funding culture. It’s now more about the service provided than any one particular organisation. Some groups were not successful in their bids for funding, but we will be supporting those to plan for their future in a variety of ways such as identifying alternative funding, pooling resources with similar organisations and working more with volunteers. This will help ensure continued support for members of those groups.”

For further information, please contact Bronwen Pickering (Press Office) on 020 8545 3483 / 07983624691, Councillor Stephen Alambritis on 07958139498 and Chris Frost on 07976353995.