Supporting Hampshire's Rural Communities

Community Challenge Fund film

A short film highlighting some of the exciting community-led projects recently supported by Hampshire County Council's £10,000 Community Challenge Fund.

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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.