Celebrating five years of the Community Foundation for Surrey

Leading philanthropic organisation, the Community Foundation for Surrey, celebrates its fifth birthday this month. Many of the groups it has supported make a real difference to people's lives in Surrey. These are just a few of their stories

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2010

Leading philanthropic organisation, the Community Foundation for Surrey, celebrates its fifth birthday this month. Since its inception in 2005, it has been able to support over 600 groups in the county with grants totalling �1.7 million. Many of the groups it has supported make a real difference to people’s lives in Surrey. These are just a few of their stories

Artventure Trust, Guildford

Guildford-based charity Artventure Trust enables people with learning difficulties to explore the visual and performing arts. They run workshops at St Peter’s School.

“Art is a gentle way of unlocking potential and building self-esteem,” says Anne North, who runs the daily workshop sessions with a small team of practising artists and volunteers.

“We work in small groups, and give one-to-one attention, to improve self-expression and self-worth. It is very rewarding to see the big improvements in our students’ confidence and the sense of achievement that is gained. One of our regular participants had her work featured in a magazine and she was over the moon!

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“We recently took part in Surrey Artists Open Studios, displaying the art work created in the last year. It gave us all a real sense of pride in what had been achieved since we started in 1984. But it’s not only the students who benefit; the regular sessions also mean that parents and carers get some respite time and that is just as important.”

For more, see www.art-venture.co.uk

Loveworks.org, Reigate

Based in Reigate, Loveworks.org is a positive, proactive charity carrying out projects for local people in need. They inspire volunteers to put something back into their community with simple and effective projects like their Christmas Bag Scheme. This encourages shoppers to buy goodies that they then bag up and distribute to local families.

“I find it inspiring to see how small-scale contributions by many can so quickly add up to a large-scale force for good,” says founder Linda Sourris. “We are thrilled that in the 20 months since Loveworks began, our projects have reached over 900 local people in need and over 140 volunteers have given their time to help make it happen. 

“It’s wonderful to see how very generous ordinary people can be. Last year, over �2,000 worth of goods went into our Christmas bags! We hope even more local people will join us and get involved to make a difference in 2010.”

For more, see www.loveworks.org.uk

Woking Minders Football Team, Woking

Formed in March 2008, by members of Woking Mind, Woking Minders Football Club was the first mental health football club to register with Surrey Football Association. They now compete in the Positive Mental Attitude London Championship as well as the newly-formed Surrey League.

“The combination of the discipline and camaraderie of the club, together with the benefits of regular exercise, have a really positive effect on our members,” says Janie Cottle, the club secretary.

“In addition to their mental health issues, many have experienced drug or alcohol addiction, as well as  unemployment,  and are often very vulnerable individuals.

“The club has gone from strength to strength; we won the Surrey Challenge Cup and some of our team was involved in the European Cup held in Birmingham last year. More importantly, though, it’s fantastic to see new members growing in confidence and making changes to their lives off the pitch.

“Since it started, four of our players are now in full time employment, another two are going on coaching courses and another two on referee courses. Football has genuinely changed their lives.”

For more, see www.wokingmindersfc.org.uk

White Lodge Centre, Chertsey

Providing a range of flexible and creative activities and opportunities for disabled children, young people and adults across Surrey, the White Lodge Centre also provides support for their families and for carers.

An example of this is their popular Little Stars playgroup for parents and their young disabled children. The project, supported by the Community Foundation, enables participants to enjoy a range of specialist toys, to take part in group singing and story time, have baby massage sessions and the use of the sensory room and hydrotherapy pool.

“Little Stars is a lifeline for many families of very young children with disabilities,” says fundraiser Catherine Thurston. “We offer these families a safe and nurturing environment where they can relax and be themselves, create new friendships and feel supported.

“Many of these parents are still adapting to a life where they are caring for and supporting their disabled child. The group gives them the opportunity to get to know other families in similar situations.

“The scheme complements all the other work that we do. Our highly skilled, experienced and passionate staff ensure that, with support and encouragement, disabled people in Surrey are able to achieve their goals.”

For more, see www.whitelodgecentre.co.uk

The Woodhouse Centre, Oxted

Established in 1971, The Woodhouse Centre provides employment in friendly surroundings for elderly and disabled people who live in Oxted and the surrounding areas. It provides a wide range of practical activities for its members including poppy making for the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory, re-upholstery and needlework.

“Our members come, at no cost, for companionship and to share the spirit of a cheerful, busy workshop where gossip and laughter play a full part in the morning’s activities,” says centre manager, Dee Graham, who welcomes an average of 30 members a day, with an age range from 20 to 90 years. “We also have sales of work, held twice a year, in the spring and the autumn, which help raise funds.

“Our dedicated volunteer drivers collect members from their homes to make sure sessions are accessible. This is important for many; being active is therapeutic and helps give a sense of purpose and self-worth and can be a real lifeline to members – something to get up for.”

For more, see www.thewoodhousecentre.co.nr

Visit www.surreycommunityfoundation.org.uk to learn more about the work of the Community Foundation for Surrey and how you can donate or request a grant. Have you or your group been helped by the Community Foundation? Tell us your story, below...

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