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Community wellbeing funding pot for South Staffordshire

More than £350,000 is being made available to benefit residents and communities in South Staffordshire – including funds from the controversial West Midlands Interchange project.

South Staffordshire District

South Staffordshire Council has secured Health Inequalities Funding totalling £236,000 from the Covid Outbreak Management Fund (COMF), which is held by Staffordshire County Council, as well as £65,000 from the West Midlands Interchange which is being constructed near Junction 12 of the M6 at Gailey.

These sums are being combined with £30,000 from the the council’s own Community is the Best Medicine Funding scheme and £20,000 community wellbeing money to create an overall community and wellbeing funding pot totalling £370,000. On Tuesday (March 5) the authority’s cabinet agreed governance measures for allocating the money to community projects and determining funding bids.

A report to Tuesday’s cabinet meeting said: “South Staffordshire Council, via the Staffordshire Health Inequalities Directors’ Group (HIDG), have been given access to £236,000 to tackle health inequalities within the district. The funding is via remaining Covid Outbreak Management Funding (COMF), held by Staffordshire County Council.

“This funding must be allocated by September 2024. It must also meet the original grant conditions of Covid Outbreak Management Funding, which are public health action on addressing the impact of Covid-19 on health outcomes and health inequalities, public health projects aimed at directly addressing health inequalities arising from the pandemic (and) public health prevention projects intended to prevent or mitigate health inequalities or unequal impact on populations in future outbreaks.

“Community is the Best Medicine funding is to respond to increased pressures and the demand that is likely to arise from existing community support provision. The funding will be utilised for a variety of purposes including to support and promote the provision of a network of warm and welcoming spaces for anyone in our community to go to on a regular basis (and) bespoke support packages offered by community groups to those most in need.

“As the cost-of-living increases this will start to impact on our residents’ daily lives. Visitors to these locations would be able to receive a friendly welcome, someone to talk with and be listened to, whilst having a warm drink and food in venues that are equipped to offer this facility.”

Applications will be invited for a share of the West Midlands Interchange Community Fund. The cabinet report said: “The types of projects that will be potentially eligible for grants are schemes to enhance the public realm in the vicinity of the WMI development, initiatives to maximise the use of the Community Parks to be provided at WMI by members of the public and other community schemes and initiatives agreed by the Council and the WMI Developer as helping to mitigate the impacts of the WMI development.”

The Government granted a Development Consent Order for the West Midlands Interchange in 2020. Thousands of residents objected to the development however, alongside the area’s MPs and councils, raising concerns that air quality and health would be affected by thousands of extra vehicles on local roads each day.

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