This year’s round of awards from Hackney Council’s grants programme resulted in some contentious decisions. A total of 72 local voluntary and community groups ultimately received a share of the £2.5 million awarded as part of the scheme, following 50 challenges to the original funding decisions made by the council.
Overall, 188 organisations applied for funding of which 136 were new applicants who did not get funding last year. Nevertheless, the bulk of the successful bids were from previous successful applicants, with only eight new applications being recommended for funding.
After the release of the initial recommendations, a further six groups were awarded funding upon sending in ‘right to reply’ applications. Among the beneficiaries were the Hackney Youth Orchestra Trust, Halkevi Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre and the Lion Club.
Groups that were refused include the Finsbury Park Homeless Family Project, Alevi Cultural Centre and Cemvi, Arcola Theatre and the Hackney Society.
Other groups saw their funding cut, including Age Concern Hackney, whose grant dropped from £45,000 in 2010/11 to £25,000 in 2011/12. The City and Hackney Carers Centre face a reduction from £45,000 to £40,000.
Organisations that saw their grants increase include Lubavitch Youth, whose funding went up from £10,000 to £20,000 and the Hackney Bangladeshi Cultural Association, whose grant rose from £17,000 to £20,000.
In distributing the grants, six main areas were identified to categorise the different applicants. These ranged from improving educational attainment and safeguarding the environment to reducing poverty and making the borough safer.
Nearly £150,000 was allocated to 14 holiday play schemes, while £680,000 went to provide larger grants to six well-known and well-established borough-wide providers: the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (£200,000), Volunteer Centre Hackney (£55,000) Hackney Council for Voluntary Service (£125,000), Hackney Community Law Centre £150,000), Hackney Community Transport (£100,000) and the Hackney Play Association (£50,000).
Councillor Jonathan McShane, the cabinet member responsible for the voluntary sector, highlighted the importance of such initiatives for the local community. “Many of the 72 charities on this list are reaching parts of the borough that could not be reached in any other way,” he said.
Smaller projects benefiting from the programme include the Hospital and Prison Action Network, a support group for people in prison or hospital. It will use its £6000 grant to run a prostate cancer awareness project aimed at African Caribbean and mixed heritage men.
The Abney Park Trust also got a nod in the form of £40,000, the third year in which it has been successful in its application for funding. The financial boost will enable the trust to continue running its forest school, volunteering scheme and craft workshops.