Three projects share £1m CommYOUnity Challenge prize in Stratford

Paul Bearman, Sandie Evans, Carolyne Johnston and Michael Lane with two of Stratford Athletics Clubs

Paul Bearman, Sandie Evans, Carolyne Johnston and Michael Lane with two of Stratford Athletics Clubs young athletes / Photo: Ian Tennant - Credit: Ian Tennant Photo Video

A community hub, arts heritage gallery and community centre; three new facilities for the people of Stratford made possible thanks to Stratford Town Trust’s £1m CommYOUnity Challenge.

Jill Young (second left), Director at Stratford Samaritans with the cheque for 420,000 / Photo: Ian

Jill Young (second left), Director at Stratford Samaritans with the cheque for 420,000 / Photo: Ian Tennant ( - Credit: Ian Tennant Photo Video

The three schemes were announced as the winners of the £1m challenge at the Touch FM Pride of Stratford Awards on Friday February 7.

Helen Munro, Chief Executive of Stratford Town Trust with the Escape Community Arts team, led by Kar

Helen Munro, Chief Executive of Stratford Town Trust with the Escape Community Arts team, led by Karen Williams, Robin Wade and Stephanie Madden (centre) / Photo: Ian Tennant - Credit: Ian Tennant Photo Video

The Stratford Samaritans were awarded the largest share of the £1million pot – £420,000. This is to make their vision for a Community Hub - operating from one single point in Stratford and providing a range of support to vulnerable members of the community - a reality.

The plan is for the hub to be based at a refurbished Tyler House in Tyler Street, offering flexible and fully accessible two-storey office accommodation for community support groups, enabling the Samaritans to link more effectively with other agencies in offering a wide range of practical and emotional support to those in need.

Being co-located with similar groups will also facilitate cross-referrals, skills sharing and the pooling of resources. The Hub will be managed by a dedicated Manager. Alongside this role, the project will employ a Samaritans Project Worker to help scale-up its activities to meet local demand, including through increasing its volunteer base and developing its outreach work.

Jill Young, Director at Stratford Samaritans said it meant the world to the entire team, including the 80 volunteers that make it all possible.

“It is beyond exciting – this money allows us to do all that we wanted to do. The Community Hub will be a legacy for the town for decades.”

Most Read

The second charity to win big on the night was Escape Community Arts – awarded a huge £340,000 for its heritage arts project.

The money will be used to transform Stratford’s old slaughter house, in Sheep Street, into an urban gallery and heritage arts centre.

The idea is to enable the town community to celebrate its local heritage - and capture and protect Stratford’s social, economic and cultural history for future generations.

Alongside this, will be a two-year arts and heritage programme, including multi-media exhibitions, inter-generational events and a wide range of outreach activities designed to build community capacity and cohesion. The project will also provide new opportunities for volunteers and young people, including formal apprenticeships.

Karen Williams, Project Manager at Escape, said the aim was to open the old slaughter house this year, hopefully as soon as September.

She described it as a hidden gem; just the start of a project to explore and safeguard Stratford’s history.

“So many people have worked so hard on this, we are absolutely thrilled.”

The final winner was Stratford Athletics Club, in partnership with Stratford School, crossing the CommYOUnity Challenge finish line with a £240,000 award.

This will be used to build a community centre for meeting, training and learning, alongside the existing multi-use athletics track at the school.

Together, these will create a unique, flexible facility in South Warwickshire, designed to draw in and support healthy living activities for local people of all ages and abilities.

The centre will be used by the school, but they will also oversee its management and maintenance as part of their commitment to community activities.

A minimum 75 per cent of the centre’s available time will be dedicated to community activities. A further key element of the project will be to help the Athletics Club achieve a step-change in its membership - it has some 130 young people currently on its waiting list. It will also enable the club to increase the range and extent of coaching and outreach support that it is able to provide.

Paul Bearman from the club said: “Ten years ago the Town Trust supported us in building the track at Stratford School. Phase 2 was always going to be a community centre and we are beyond excited it can now happen.

“It is very much a legacy project – promoting healthy living across the community.”

The prizes were handed out by John Lancaster, chairman of Stratford Town Trust, and Jean Holder, one of the trust’s longest serving trustees.

Helen Munro, Chief Executive of Stratford Town Trust, said: “The judging panel had a truly tough task deciding on the winners with such a strong final 9 projects in the running.

“We were looking for projects that will be of real benefit to Stratford, with a genuine legacy value, and our three winners are certainly that. They are hugely exciting prospects for the Stratford community.

“Of course our hearts go out to all of the runners-up, who worked so hard on their projects.

“The good news is they do now have detailed proposals drawn up, which they can take forward to explore other funding avenues, including the Town Trust’s annual grants rounds.”

Stratford Town Trust launched its £1m CommYOUnity Challenge - offering a share of a £1 million pot to schemes aimed at providing a lasting legacy for the town - at the start of 2013.

More than 70 applications were received and whittled down to a final 9.

Detailed applications were then submitted and judged by a panel, made of up of Town Trust staff and trustees, as well as local businessmen, councillors, Stratford’s MP and pupils from two Stratford schools.

Stratford Town Trust will continue to support the three CommYOUnity Challenge winners as they get to work on putting their plans into action.

Grants Manager Claire Bowry will be working closely with the winners.

“We will be supporting each of our winners as they take the necessary steps to make their projects happen,” she said.

“This is just the start of a very exciting journey for all of them – and for the community here in Stratford.”


For more information on the CommYOUnity Challenge go to: