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Community Choice: Successful projects announced!

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."

Case Studies 2024

Newtown Park Association

Flushed with success

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.

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.

Enable Scotland (Falkirk Branch)

Breaking barriers, building connections

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.

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.”

Case Studies 2023

Bailliefields Community Hub

Photograph of 2 young people with cricket bats

Since Community Choices launched in 2021, Bailliefields Community Hub has secured 2 place-based capital grants and a small grant totalling £100,500.

The charity, which is the brainchild of individuals involved in Westquarter and Redding Cricket Club, aims to create 'a place for all' by providing more services to the local area.

With the help of the funding, Bailliefields Community Hub will upgrade its facilities in Brightons. So far, a new modular building has been built and the car park resurfaced – both were officially opened in August 2023.

It is anticipated the conversion of a former cow shed into a 150m² fully accessible community hall will be complete in June 2024. The hall will offer additional kitchen facilities, meeting spaces and a Changing Places Toilet as well as a public-access defibrillator to enhance safety.

Stephen Sutton, Chair and Trustee, Bailliefields Community Hub, said:

"Our aim is to create 'a place for all' where the community feel they belong, are safe, respected and see themselves having a future. The transformation of our facilities underscores that commitment. Securing funding through Community Choices has been pivotal in helping us realise our vision. Without the grants it would have been much harder, and taken much longer, to bring our plans to life."

Equi-Power Central Scotland RDA

Photograph of 2 young people on horse back

Equi-Power Central Scotland RDA received £4,920 from Community Choices to provide free equestrian services to children and young people with additional support needs (ASN).

The funding covered coaching fees, administration, horse livery and transportation that would allow the charity to provide free coaching to school pupils.

Two schools that have benefitted from the funding include Ladeside Primary School Autism Unit and Denny High School pupils with ASN.

Ladeside pupils participated in equestrian vaulting sessions that enhanced flexibility and core strength and fostered teamwork, improved communication, and boosted confidence.

Denny High School pupils took part in horse care sessions that help them secure Horse Care Level One awards. The sessions increased knowledge, confidence, care, empathy, independence and teamwork.

Amanda Namey, Service Manager, Equi-Power Central Scotland RDA, said:

"Community Choices funding has transformed lives. Pupils with ASN and disabilities have enjoyed some fantastic experiences because of Community Choices. Schools have made it very clear that the funding significantly helped them access these experiences for their pupils. For those trying activities out with school, the funding made the difference between young people with ASN being able to attend, grow in confidence and excel, or not having the opportunity to do so."

Strathcarron Hospice Lymphoedema Choir

Photograph of choir members

Strathcarron Hospice, based in Denny, secured a Small Grants award of £4,800, enabling it to continue the 'Lymph Notes' Choir programme for 4 months in 2022.

Launched as a pilot musical therapy initiative, the choir primarily serves individuals living with lymphoedema, a chronic condition characterized by the accumulation of lymph fluid.

During the initial 6 month pilot phase, the choir, offered 17 members the opportunity to connect with others facing similar challenges while providing a creative outlet. Remarkably, participants reported an average 35% improvement in their mental health and mood.

The choir also evolved to help raise crucial funds for Strathcarron Hospice, renowned for its provision of specialised palliative care and expert end-of-life services to individuals in Forth Valley, Cumbernauld, and Kilsyth.

Margaret-Anne Garner, Lymphoedema Specialist at Strathcarron Hospice, said:

"Community Choices funding has helped so many initiatives like ours make a real difference in people's lives, providing them with much-needed support that may not have been possible had the grant not been secured. The choir has created a safe space for people with lymphoedema and lipoedema to meet, build relationships, and share experiences. It's also helped them learn new skills and reduced feelings of isolation and anxiety."

Scottish Seniors Computer Clubs

Photograph of a person using a laptop

Using the £650 grant secured through Community Choices, the Falkirk branch of the Scottish Seniors Computer Clubs was able to buy 2 new HP laptops with Windows 11.

By doing so, the small and friendly club that meets every Wednesday at Leishman Tower in Callendar Park, has helped its members get to grips with Microsoft's latest operating system.

With no fixed syllabus, the club's main objective is to boost the confidence and competence of local people, particularly those aged 50 and above, in using computers, tablets and smartphones. The emphasis is on learning at your own pace.

The Falkirk club has several volunteer tutors with different skill sets and includes Roy Kerr and John McGhee, who are on hand at every meeting.

Roy said:

"We were over the moon when we heard we'd secured the grant, as it allowed us to invest in new hardware and software that has benefitted everyone in the club. Our members' needs vary, and each is different – from learning basic laptop skills, to understanding how to format a document, to simply enjoying the companionship of other members. The club is a collaborative learning environment where everyone contributes their expertise, reinforcing the idea that in computing, we all have something to teach and something to learn."

Case Studies 2022

Falkirk Golf Club

Falkirk Golf Club members playing on a sunny day

Falkirk Golf Club secured £39,800 through Community Choices to make its clubhouse more accessible for all members of the community to use and its 18-hole golf course more playable for golfers of all ages.

The club used the money to improve access to the clubhouse and the course - replacing two steep set of steps with a new entrance ramp and constructing paths around the course to make it safer for people who rely on golf buggies.

Thanks to the work, the club, which celebrated its centenary in 2022, was able to work with members of The Scottish Disability Golfers Association to host its first ever event for golfers with additional support needs.

Nicky Barr, Club Captain, said:

"The Community Choices award has allowed us to make the club far more accessible. Now, people with mobility issues and wheelchair users can access the clubhouse more easily and if playing golf navigate around the course using the new paths work. By undertaking the work, we are a far more inclusive club, and more people can take part in the sport."

Friends of Forth Valley First Responders

Public Access Defibrillators (PADs)

Having spotted a post on social media promoting Community Choices, Friends of Forth Valley First Responders submitted a bid to the Falkirk area-wide category and secured £73,485 to install lifesaving equipment in every council ward.

The charity, which supports the work of Forth Valley First Responders, aims to install five Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) in each of Falkirk's nine council wards by June 2023. By end of October 2022, 15 PADS will have been installed across the Falkirk Council area.

Martin Stuart, Treasurer, said:

"Every year the Scottish Ambulance Service responds to around 200 people in the Falkirk area who have a sudden, unexpected out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Only 10% of these people survive. Research shows that PADs, placed within 150 metres of a person having a cardiac arrest, increases their chance of survival by 50 to 70%.
Community Choices funding allows us to buy, install and maintain an additional 45 PADs, raising the number that can be deployed by the Scottish Ambulance Service in the Falkirk Council area to 115."

Visit www.defibfinder.uk to find out where PADS are available.

Bo'ness Car 4U secured

Bo’ness Car 4U

Bo'ness Car 4U secured £5,000 through Community Choices to help cover volunteer mileage costs during the first year of its operation.

Since launching in January 2022, the charity - which provides a free hospital transport service to cancer patients who would otherwise struggle to get to their appointments - has covered 8,230 miles (to end September).

With referrals coming in from all three GP practices based in Bo’ness, the charity undertook 64 journeys in August and September alone.

Once a referral is made, Bo’ness Car 4U liaises directly with patients to arrange transportation, picking them up and dropping them off at their home. This helps reduce the length of time they are away from home and the stress they face travelling to and from treatments.

Rod McNeill, Chair, said:

"One particular day we conveyed five different patients to their places of treatment and home again, something we are proud to have been able to do. That was only made possible because of two things, donations and volunteers, so thank you Community Choices for helping us achieve that."

Falkirk Made Friends

The 49ft by 6ft 'Ironheart 2022’ mural

Using £4,706 of funding secured through Community Choices, Falkirk Made Friends created an eye-catching mural to celebrate the world-famous products made by Falkirk's foundries.

The 49ft by 6ft 'Ironheart 2022’ mural covers the entire length of the former Malcolm Cockburn’s Gowanbank Foundry office block in Gowan Avenue, Falkirk.

Using the colour palette favoured by the foundry in the 1930s, the vibrant piece of public art features the baths, cooking ranges and utensils that transformed how people lived.

Dr Duncan Comrie, Secretary said:

"The pandemic raised the profile of public health and provided a new context to consider how products designed and cast locally helped raise people’s standard of living.
Our Community Choices award gave us the fuel to tap into the creative furnace of Ironheart achievements, allowing us to design the mural and buy materials to make it happen."