£3m boost for community-led services

COMMUNITY-led efforts to give local people greater control over services in their area are to get a £3m boost from the Government.

The cash from the Communities Fund, which launched in December 2016, will be shared between 54 projects.

A third will focus on personalised schemes to improve people's health and general wellbeing. Others will tackle social isolation, help people find a job and support those finding homelessness.

"Making a real difference to people's lives doesn't always happen by Whitehall diktat. It also comes from the dedication and inventiveness of local people who know their area best and the issues most important to them," said communities minister Andrew Percy.

"That's why we're supporting these innovative projects which provide tailored services that make a real difference to people's lives."

They include a scheme involving Colchester Borough Council and Essex Public Health to get more people walking and socialising as a way to improve health and wellbeing. Local residents will take part in a game on the street by tapping specially designed boxes attached to lampposts with a fob to earn points. An earlier pilot scheme involving over 10,000 people saw a significant increase in levels of fitness, with those meeting the Department of Health's guidelines for daily exercise climbing from 27 per cent to 48 per cent.

Elsewhere, Plymouth City Council, Devon & Cornwall Housing, NHS England and the Royal British Legion will work together to help local homeless people and other hard to reach groups to develop employment skills. They will get the opportunity to learn how to mend bicycles from expert mechanics and earn qualifications. The workshop will also be open to the public, giving the newly trained mechanics the chance to develop customer service skills.