Local good causes have been awarded grants by Swanage Town Council to help with their charitable work.
At the Swanage Town Council meeting on Monday 25th January 2021, the councillors considered five grant applications for money.
Three of the organisations – #Willdoes, Swanage and Purbeck Rotary and Life Education Wessex, all had their requests approved.
However larger funding requests from the Mowlem Institute Trust and Purbeck Coast FM radio station were not granted although the council pledged to work with the Swanage organisations to help get them the support they needed.
Councillors first considered smaller grant requests from various projects in the area – all of which were approved by members.
£550 is to be given to Life Education Wessex, a charity working across the West Country that helps relationships, health, wellbeing and drugs education to children all across the region.
The council’s grant panel noted:
“The charity has been particularly concerned for the mental health and wellbeing of children during the past few months, and the effect that isolation has had on their emotional wellbeing.
“It was noted that there has been a surge in domestic violence during the COVID-19 lockdown and that many children are more vulnerable than ever, particularly in pockets of the most deprived areas.”
A grant of £200 was made to Swanage and Purbeck Rotary to support its work including the festive stockings of food that were handed out to people alone at Christmas last year.
£2,000 was given to charity #Willdoes, which helps support young people who are struggling with daily life. The Swanage-based charity promotes education, health and social inclusion for those in need, and the grant will help the charity become more established.
“Long term strategy” for The Mowlem
The largest sum of money requested came from the Mowlem Institute Trust, which totalled to £36,000 to support the centre, while Purbeck Coast FM community radio station asked for £30,000.
However, while councillors expressed their intentions to offer continued support to these institutions, they voted against giving these specific grants, citing sustainability concerns.
Swanage’s elected representative on Dorset Council, councillor Gary Suttle was first to raise concerns. He said:
“The amounts of money we’re talking about are more than just grants, aren’t they, from the town council’s point of view.
“I think that we would be more likely to be working with Purbeck FM Radio, and with the Mowlem on a long term strategy to ensure their survival instead of actually throwing £30,000 into the pot.
“I think that we should be about sustainability, and looking at the overall financial viability of both the Mowlem and the radio.”
Not “within our remit”
Speaking in agreement, councillor Tina Foster said:
“I don’t think that we should be giving these sums of money out of the public precept towards things that we don’t know are going to last. I don’t think it’s the business of this town council to support these sort of enterprises, good as they are, but I don’t think it’s within our remit to hand out these sums of money.”
Councillor Debby Monkhouse added:
“I think it really does matter for the town to have an arts and theatre venue, it really does matter to have the radio – but I think I would support Gary’s proposal of trying to work with them on a long term strategy to ensure their sustainability. If that then requires fundraising, or something, I’m really happy to get involved in that kind of way.”
In agreement with Gary Suttle, councillors agreed to turn down the grant requests from the Mowlem and Purbeck Coast FM, but expressed their willingness to work longer term with the two organisations.
Previous council grants
In the 2020/21 time period, Swanage Town Council has already approved grants totalling £4,100.
These include £500 for the Purbeck and Swanage Air Training Corps, £1,000 for Link Visiting Swanage and £500 each for the Purbeck Art Weeks Festival and the Purbeck International Chamber Music Festival.
Charities, clubs and events who wish to apply for a grant from Swanage Town Council can find the application form on the council’s website.