This short video illustrates how Hampshire's communities are working to improve the quality of life in their neighbourhoods. Supported by grants from Hampshire County Council's Small Grants Scheme and Community Challenge Fund it shows how communities really can make a difference. Both grant schemes are currently open and accepting applications.
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A leisurely stroll in the countryside is for many people an important part of living in a rural community and in Hampshire we are fortunate to have nearly 3,000 miles of rights of way. Looking after them is a difficult job for the County Council to do, so over the years many local communities have helped us to complete this work. With this in mind we set up the small grants scheme Countryside Access, as a way for local communities and landowners to help us make improvements to their paths. Since the scheme was set up in 2005, over 120 projects have been completed, including resurfacing paths, replacing stiles with gates for those less mobile, building bridges and producing leaflets. The grant scheme is open to parish and town councils and landowners, offering 50% of the cost of a project up to a maximum of £5,000. If you are a keen walker, horse rider, cyclist or just enjoy walking your dog, get in touch and let us know if you have a path you’d like to improve.
Kingsley Parish Council received a grant of £2,500 for their Countryside Access project.
We used the funding for three different aspects of our project; map boards, “Exploring Kingsley” leaflets and improvements to physical access on these particular routes, taking out the stiles, putting in the board-walk, improving the signage and actually giving some publicity to perhaps previously an unexplored part of our parish.
M: In terms of local projects, if it’s owned locally there’s much more enthusiasm making sure it’s successful. We can’t sit here in County Hall and know exactly what’s happening at grass roots. I think the essential thing about volunteers is if they volunteer they’re very enthusiastic and they own what they’re doing.
We’ve got a lot of visitors from outside coming to explore. They’re coming to pick up our leaflets and if it’s a nice day, they’re choosing to stay, and that’s good, that’s important for our small businesses.
When the leaflet came through, I started reading it and then realised that there are all these bridleways and places in Kingsley which I didn’t actually know about, and I’ve lived here for 15 years.
People have the confidence to look at what’s happening and actually think about how we could influence what could happen in the future.
I think if you get involved you feel more part of the area, more responsible for the environment and therefore you’re more likely to take care of it and encourage other people to do the same.
We received part funding from Hampshire County Council Small Grant Scheme, the balance was provided by the parish council, but also by contributions from organisations within the village. One of our local businesses gave a contribution to the provision of the map boards, the local Ramblers’ Association provided funding for the removal of the stile and replacing it with a gate. We may be improving paths, footways, bridleways, cycle routes, but we’re actually doing much more than that, we’re building a community together.
East Meon Parish Council work with local trail riders, four by four groups and residents, to improve an impassable route in their parish.
I came for a ride down the lanes one day and there’s five ways down the end of this lane, and I couldn’t get down one of them. The ruts were enormous, there was logs across, they were very overgrown.
I live literally very local, just down the lane and we used to use these lanes a lot because it’s very convenient for walking my dogs, but it got muddier and muddier and more and more ruts, actually it became impossible.
M: The main things that we spent the money on were the barriers; there was over 100 tonnes of material to fill the ruts. We also spent some money, in terms of machinery because the ruts were that big. We’ve held two volunteer days so far, lots of the local villagers came along, there was a great turnout, everybody enjoyed the day, it was very successful, so many volunteers you know we actually achieved everything we wanted to achieve. There’s always going to be a few people around who want to make things happen and with a little bit of help can make a lot of things happen.
It makes all the difference to my friends and I, we ride along these lanes, we can actually use them again which is wonderful, really good.
To us it’s been very important and it’s improved our whole lifestyles; now we all use this again and it’s lovely.
Deadwater Valley Trust replaced bridges with funding from the town council, landfill tax and the Small Grants Scheme.
We’ve improved the nature reserve but we’ve improved it for the community. I’ve done quite a lot of grant applications and this form’s really simple and you knew you could ring or email if you did get stuck, and get some help from them as well, but I found it a really good process, lots of help, lovely simple form, really good.
Go for this because if it’s improving it for more people to get access or to appreciate their environment, it’s got to help everybody.
Liss Parish Council received a grant of £650 to replace a bridge crossing and stile.
M: We put our idea through to the parish, and they came up with the solution, and of course like everything it has to be financed. We looked round to the various sources of funding for it, and obviously Hampshire Rights of Way, Small Grants improvement was a first choice for us. It was a question of co-ordinating the work itself which was a great example of interagency work because we’ve had a community service team, our own staff and local volunteers managing the project. We’ve ended up with a great improvement to the amenities for the local people. Yes, tremendous, we get a lot of people now, all the residents of Liss who come down here. It’s a scheme that’s there for all of Hampshire parishes and town councils to use. The offices at ACC were very helpful and we look forward to using this facility again for other projects.
Rural communities are an important part of the fabric of Hampshire life and the County Council has always been keen to support them. Many of these communities have great ideas and enthusiasm for improving local life, and the Community Challenge Fund was set up to help develop these ideas into successful local projects. Within a broad criteria the possible range of projects that can be supported are almost limitless. The fund is open to rural community organisations, offering up to 50% of the costs with grants available up to £1,000. Two recent projects include helping set up Walton Hill Village Market and providing farm visits for local schools to learn about the importance of farming in the rural community.
The Community Challenge Fund is a really easy fund to apply for actually, there was lots of help through Hampshire County Council, it was clearly identified on their website and then a simple application form to fill in and feedback quite quickly on whether we’d received any grant funding as well, so it was ever so good. It’s so important that they actually come and meet the real people who do live and work here and learn from them about just how their everyday food products are actually produced, how the countryside is managed and how we all have a role, the children included, in sort of caring for our countryside.
Being hands on I think is so important, and being outdoors, and experiencing it, fantastic.
Here today the children have been learning about the work of the game-keeper, that there are certain species that we need to control so that we have got a balanced amount of wildlife living in our woodlands. They’ve also met a gentleman who is a deer stalker, had great fun learning about how deer numbers need to be controlled if we want to have a nice array of trees in our countryside. They’ve also met somebody who’s told them all about bees, why bees are important, pollination and subsequent food production, and then down at the farm end of things, they’ve learnt about the different crops that are grown on the farm and how they turn into the everyday products that the children have at home, and I’m sure have been wowed by the scale of the great big combine… And they’ve learnt a bit about sheep production and taking on the theme of the wool and what that gets used for.
M: I want to see them enjoying themselves, so that they see that this is a positive place, but I also want to see them learn and we do take note of what they’re learning in school and try and provide the teachers with some information which will cement the experience.
The people that they meet are actually doing the jobs here on the farm and so it’s important to know that there are jobs that they may then choose to go onto in later life, you just never know what little seed of inspiration you may have planted.
I would like to work on a farm because I like animals and there’s lots of different jobs I could choose from.
M: I’d give today 10 out of 10 so far.
We really want children to feel empowered, excited about the countryside and really want to grow up knowing more about it so that they can make wise decisions for the future.
M: Well the great thing about the market is that it came out of a parish plan.
M: Out of approximately say 1,400 adults who responded well over 1,000 said they would like a village market.
M: And they wanted somewhere to go where people could meet on a weekend or whatever, and also provide the sorts of things that a market provides, the fresh food and the fresh veg. It’s great having the idea but it’s making it happen that’s the important thing.
M: We had some local funding and then we also applied to Hampshire, they came up trumps with the money and without that money we could not really essentially have started; that was essential funding for us.
We used the start up costs to pay for all of the publicity related things, so the boards that you see around the village, and leaflets and fliers, that kind of thing.
M: The people themselves locally have done this, and that’s why it works because everybody feels that they have a little share in it, a little part of it and they make it work, they make it a really vibrant and exciting place to be on a Saturday, once a month.
M: These types of schemes really mean that the county is showing itself to be supportive and inclusive with a community, and supporting them doing real things that make a difference. What you’re doing really is building communities and it’s just about people going outside their front doors and doing stuff, and the more they do the more successful it is, the more communities come together. So, any help we can give in helping and enabling people to make those bids, we always will. People just need to get on the phone and give us a ring, or contact us by email or letter and talk about it.