By Ian Dipple Monday 28 October 2013 Updated: 28/10 09:44
REDDITCH is bottom of the pile when it comes to receiving lottery funding.
Charities and voluntary groups across the borough have now been called upon by borough MP Karen Lumley to ensure they bid and get their fair share of the billions of pounds available.
Figures from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport show since 1995 Redditch has received just 260 grants totalling over £7.6million, making the borough the worst claimer in Worcestershire and lagging towards the bottom regionally.
In contrast neighbouring Bromsgrove has received 399 grants worth over £12.7million and nearby Worcester has scooped close to £41million with 641 successful bids.
The arts is a particular problem for Redditch with Arts Council England awarding 23 grants totalling £273,868 over the last 18 years.
To tackle the problem Mrs Lumley hosted a funding fair at the Abbey Hotel last Thursday (October 24) which was attended by about 100 people and saw groups including Arts Council West Midlands, Sports England and the Big Lottery explain how organisations could improve their chances of bidding for cash.
The crowd also heard from representatives of Lloyds and Barclays Bank who said they provided practical support by allowing staff to volunteer to help in the community and encouraging staff to fund-raise for charities which is then matched by the company.
Mrs Lumley said there were a number of potential reasons the borough was lagging beind the rest of the region including many believing it was too complicated a process to bid.
"Everywhere I go I come across charities and community groups struggling to access funding and when the lottery come to see me Redditch is always at the bottom of the pile and we shouldn't be," she said.
"These people are the backbone of our community and it's important to give them some help and information on how to access funding.
"We are not getting our fair share here so let's make sure we are top of the West Midlands in the next year and not at the bottom."
Lee McKenzie, from the Sandycroft Centre in Smallwood, said one of the problems was writing bids was time consuming and many organisations, already under pressure from funding cuts, did not have the resources to apply.
"But coming here has encouraged me, if no-one is going for it then maybe we have more of a chance."
Christine Tansley, from Redditch Arts Circle, added: "We're going to go and talk to the committee and see what we can apply for."
Redditch Borough Council also has a pot of £241,000 people can bid for through its grants programme.
Coun David Bush, chair of the council's grants panel, said: "It's great we have that £241,000 a year but it's really important to get voluntary and community sector organisations applying for these larger pots of funding to invest in the town."
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