Grants available to community groups to help them connect people to nature

Grants are now available to West Midlands community groups and regional organisations to help them connect people to nature.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, with Tara Sexton from the Canal and River trust, launching Community Green Grants to help connect people to nature
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, with Tara Sexton from the Canal and River trust, launching Community Green Grants to help connect people to nature

The Community Green Grants, funded by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will support projects that increase people’s access to nature in deprived communities.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, launched the fund at an event in Smethwick hosted by the Canal & River Trust.

The trust has been working with local groups such as the Community Connect Foundation to make Smethwick's canalside more attractive to residents and visitors.

Mayor Andy Street planted a tree near the New Pump House, just off Brasshouse Lane, to mark 2022 as a year of community tree planting in the West Midlands and along the canals.

He also met five volunteers who have been taking part in the Trust’s Plastics Challenge Campaign to remove litter and plastic along the towpath and the water, as well as helping to plant spring bulbs.

Andy Street said: "I was thrilled to join the Canal & River Trust and particularly enjoyed planting an apple tree along the canal.

"It is great news that we’re offering Community Green Grants to local community groups and regional organisations who are involved in environmental projects, as we’re keen to see more people enjoy the benefits of nature on their doorstep, with all the benefits it brings for our physical and mental wellbeing.

"I would encourage as many groups as possible to get involved, take advantage of our cash, and get their funding applications in."

The WMCA has set aside £725,000 for the Community Green Grants for community groups, charities, community interest companies and environmental organisations that can show how their planned activities will have a positive impact on the environment.

Councillor Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio holder for environment and energy and leader of Solihull Council, said: "The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has shown people just how important it is that we have the opportunity to spend time in green spaces near our homes.

"It’s great news that the WMCA is making funding available to enable our communities to create projects that will help tackle green deprivation.

"These projects will allow people and our wildlife to enjoy our local areas even more, improving our environment and increasing the biodiversity of our region."

There will be two levels of funding available, small grants of £3,000 to £25,000 and large grants of £25,000 to £100,000 with priority given to projects in communities where there is green deprivation.

Small projects could include activities run at community gardens, turning unused viable land into pocket parks or setting up nature playgroups for children and families with no regular access to green space.

Larger scale projects may include developing green corridors linking parks, developing new community green spaces that increase local access or creative plans that significantly improve the biodiversity.

Richard Preston, partnerships and external relationships manager at Canal and River Trust, said: "It’s great that groups like the Community Connect Foundation and Eco Sikhs are working with us to improve the canal in Smethwick.

"The work of local volunteers can help transform green and blue spaces for local communities and the Community Green.

"Grants offered by the Combined Authority will help to improve other green spaces across the West Midlands for the benefit of wildlife and people.”

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