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Pictured: Neil and Maureen Kilgour celebrate ENABLE’s successful Community Choices bid with some Enable members who are looking forward to enjoying this year’s Awakening Festival.

Local people have once again rallied behind community-led projects, casting thousands of votes that have helped groups, organisations and clubs secure grants through Community Choices.

With almost 9,600 eligible votes cast, residents living across Falkirk Council's nine wards have ensured 36 out of the 50 projects that went to the public vote have secured a share of £670,012 - valuable funding that will benefit the communities in which they live.

The grants awarded cover a huge range of initiatives, with 20 groups securing Place-based Capital Grants ranging from £6,192 to £74,861, and 16 securing Small Grants of up to £5,000 each.

Now in its fourth round, Community Choices is Falkirk Council and Falkirk Health & Social Care Partnership’s participatory budgeting programme, offering local people a democratic way to have a direct say in how public money is invested in community-led projects.

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, Leader of Falkirk Council said: "Once again, local people have voted for projects that they feel will make a real difference not just to their neighbourhood but also to the lives of those who live within their community. Every group, organisation and club that put forward a project, whether successful or not, provides invaluable services to residents and plays a hugely important role within the communities in with they operate. Thank you to everyone who put forward a project and to those who voted, and huge congratulations to those who secured a grant."

Pictured: (left to right) Robert Snedden and George Sansom, trustees of Newtown Park Association, show their delight upon hearing the news of the charity’s successful bid.

Pictured: (left to right) Robert Snedden and George Sansom, trustees of Newtown Park Association, show their delight upon hearing the news of the charity’s successful bid.

Flushed with success

The roar from the terraces will be heard across the whole of Bo’ness when the Newtown Park Association (NPA) announces its successful Community Choices bid.

The charity’s home support voted in their droves to help it secure a Place-based Capital Bid of £28,431. The award will allow the association to kickstart a project that will benefit scores of boys, girls and adult football teams who regularly use Newtown Park, including the Scottish Cerebral Palsy national squad.

Nestled right at the heart of Bo’ness in Jamieson Avenue, Newtown Park has become a bustling centre for sporting activities. Each week hundreds of local people aged six to seniors come together to train and play football, boosting their health, wellbeing, and community spirit.

Now, thanks to the Community Choices grant, NPA will be able to install modern, inclusive, and accessible toilets facilities, promoting the park into the top division by making it an even more welcoming place for all members of the community.

Robert Snedden, Chairperson, NPA said: “We’d like to thank everyone who voted for our project. It really goes to show just how much the park means to people. Once installed, the toilets will enhance the overall experience for everyone who visits the park and help empower individuals with disabilities and mobility challenges to participate fully in the activities that are offered at the park seven days a week.”

This is the second Place-based Capital Grant that the NPA has netted. Last year, the charity scored £44,671 to establish a community hub within the park’s grounds. Once completed, the hub will house a café, large hall, meeting rooms and changing facilities that will be a benefit to the whole Bo'ness community.

Breaking barriers, building connections

The Awakening Family Festival stands out as an example of what can be achieved when inclusion and accessibility are your starting point.

Taking place on Sunday, 2 June, Scotland’s only music festival aimed at people with disabilities will return to Callendar Park with the help of a £5,000 grant from Community Choices’ Small Grant programme.

Organised by the Falkirk-branch of ENABLE Scotland, every aspect of the festival is accessible – from Pamiloo facilities to disabled toilets and a sensory area – setting a standard that all public events should achieve.

“We believe inclusivity is not only possible but essential,” said Maureen Kilgour, Branch Treasurer and event organiser. “By securing the grant through Community Choices, it highlights the local community agrees with us. We really are thrilled that people voted for our project. It’s a huge undertaking to organise an outdoor festival and there are significant costs. This award is essential as it will help us put on yet another fantastic day for festivalgoers and performers.”

The Awakening Family Festival was first launched in 2018. Through live music, DJs, family entertainment, food, fairground rides, and stalls run by organisations dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities, festivalgoers can come together to dance, sing, laugh, and be entertained while also being educated and empowered.

Feedback from previous festivals has highlighted just how important the day is to all who attend.

“Because the festival is fully accessible, people have told us that they do not need to worry or do lots of research before attending because they know their needs will be catered for. They also appreciate that the day showcases the wealth of talent within the disabled community.”