Maria Miller MP has welcomed grants of £61,892 from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) to 16 smaller charities and community groups to support vulnerable children, young people and families in crisis or living in poverty. The Action Hampshire Fund, (created following the dissolution of the Hampshire Voluntary Sector Children and Young People’s Alliance) aims to empower people in disadvantaged communities by supporting family networks, building community cohesion and providing advice, information and counselling for those who are struggling with issues such as mental health problems or health and wellbeing.
Basingstoke’s charities and community groups include the Home-Start North West Hampshire, Pod Charitable Trust, Basingstoke Voluntary Action, Citizens Advice Bureau and  YPI Counselling.
Maria said “I welcome this much needed support for our local charities and community groups that provide invaluable service to local residents. I applaud the work and HIWCF commitment to helping disadvantaged people in across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight .”
Sue Dovey, Chief Executive at Action Hampshire said “At Action Hampshire we are delighted that this money, a legacy from a charity that had focused on supporting children, young people and families, has been used to support so many good, local charities and groups working in this field.”
Grant Cornwell MBE, Chief Executive at HIWCF said “We are pleased to partner Action Hampshire on this Fund, set up to help vulnerable children, young people and families who are struggling with poverty or are in crisis. HIWCF is committed to helping disadvantaged people across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and this grant programme enables us to support a wide range of vital projects run by truly deserving charities and community groups working in our region.”
Two case studies in Basingstoke;
Basingstoke - Home-Start North West Hampshire provides an essential service to families and parents, helping isolated families that lack the confidence to engage with mainstream services, assisting families living with debt and poverty resulting in poor nutrition for children and supporting parents suffering from depression and mental health issues resulting in lack of interaction, social skills, speech and language delay in children.
Janette Hewitt, Chair of Home-Start North West Hampshire said “The grant to Home-Start of £4,750 will enable the organisation to train volunteers in safeguarding, confidentiality and practical ideas to help families, and upon completion of training, we match volunteers with a family and provide weekly visits to offer a parenting role model and practical support, to help resolve any issues the family is struggling to cope with. Volunteers also receive quarterly training to keep their skills up to date on topics such as paediatric first aid and mental health awareness. In 2017-18 Home-Start North West Hampshire volunteers were able to support 77 families in the home and a further 51 families in groups, with 305 children helped in total.”
Pod Children’s Charity has received a grant of £600 for monthly entertainment sessions for children at Basingstoke Hospital. Knowing that the professional entertainer is coming to their ward or clinic gives the children something to look forward to, and when ‘Fred the Shed’ starts his magic, balloon modelling or puppetry show over a 40-50 minute session, they are distracted from being in hospital and have some fun. The result is a child who smiles for the first time in days or a child who stops crying and actually laughs, which can make all the difference for parents caring for their children and is also encouraging for hospital staff.
Pauline Bennett, Charity Co-ordinator at Pod Children’s Charity said “Children may start off feeling a little quiet, anxious and scared of being in hospital, but by the end of the magic show will be happily joining in and interacting with the other children. Children may be in hospital as a result of an accident, illness, planned procedure or check-up, or be in and out  frequently due to a life altering condition. The entertainment means that some procedures can be carried out while the child is distracted causing less stress, such as need for a local anaesthetic as opposed to a general, meaning the child leaving hospital has had a positive experience and is less afraid if they need to return for more treatment.”
The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) is an independent charitable trust established to inspire local giving for local need. Local groups can take a look at the HIWCF website to see if they might qualify for a grant: www.hiwcf.com or email HIWCF at grantsadmin@hiwcf.com