The Community Fund has made a great start. It is a new initiative between The Leys & St Faith’s Schools Foundation and Wesley’s Chapel & Leysian Mission, enabling charity and community initiatives which otherwise could not take place.
From providing Easter holiday food hampers to supporting youth mentoring programmes, the Community Fund has caring for the vulnerable and strengthening communities at its heart. In a year of previously unimaginable turmoil, over £24,000 of grants have been awarded to groups in Cambridge and around the City Road area of London.
Successful projects include a trip to Thetford Go Ape! for 16 students who attend The Red Balloon Learner Centre in Cambridge, while 26 children whose families are under the wing of the Red Hen Project also enjoyed bowling at Cambridge Leisure Park. Project Lead Sarah said: “The opportunity to get out and spend time as a family having fun is priceless, especially so this year.” These excursions built on the existing strong links between The Leys Outreach team, Ed Durrant and Damien Ridgen, and local charities Cambridge Red Balloon Learner Centre (which provides education for children who cannot attend mainstream schools) and The Red Hen Project (which works to overcome barriers to learning).
Another successful partnership has been created between community group Abbey People and The Leys. Abbey People work to improve the lives of residents in Abbey, Cambridge’s poorest ward, in all sorts of ways, from running a food hub to creating green spaces and coordinating a community choir. In the February half-term, a grant from the Community Fund enabled the purchase of 45 ‘feed-a-family’ boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, supplemented by donations of store cupboard ingredients from the Leys Community. The families who received a hamper reported that they were very helpful: “At the time we received it we had just run out of most things and I was ill with a child in isolation so having food delivered was a HUGE God send. Thank you so much!” A similar scheme during the Easter holidays delivered food hampers to a further 45 families, accompanied by Easter Eggs for everyone donated from the School community.
Looking to the future, the Community Fund has also sponsored several ongoing initiatives. Leadership on a Journey is an exciting project located at Wesley’s Chapel, complementing the work undertaken by The Leys on diversity and inclusion, in partnership with The Leys’ Chaplaincy and Leys’ Art Department. As part of their engagement with the Black Lives Matter movement, the Chapel and Mission will mount a staged exhibition ‘Leadership on a Journey’ at the Museum of Methodism in London; art pupils at The Leys will produce creative responses to this.
Also in London, the Soapbox Youth Centre gives tailored support to young adults facing redundancy and isolation. As lockdown eases, Wesley’s Chapel and Leysian Mission will expand their support for 1:1 mentoring, group support, and skills development. The Community Fund has made this ongoing work possible, by part-funding a Community Worker for Younger Adults.
A number of exciting Community Fund projects are currently being considered by the Board or being prepared by charities prior to application. We are delighted to have established a number of connections with local charities and community groups, in addition to the strong existing connections that The Leys Outreach Team, and the Wesley’s Chapel and Lesyian Mission, enjoy in their local areas.