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Latest round of the Citizen Local Fund supports 11 organisations

We’ve helped 11 community groups across the West Midlands through the Citizen Local Fund – including Benshow Housing in Smethwick.

The fund supports our customers and communities to thrive with grants of up to £3,000 available – in particular, we support projects which improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation, enhance local areas and bring communities together.

Benshow Housing used the money to hire a space and instructor to run African ladies’ dance fitness clubs for the over 55s in the Smethwick area.

The charity, which helps people who have found themselves homeless, wanted to provide women from the Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community with an exercise class as it was found they couldn’t afford it or lacked motivation to join.

Kashindan who attended the sessions said: “I had a problem with my hip but since I have attended the sessions, I feel more comfortable. I also feel I have the courage to attend more classes and would attend these again if more happen as I have made new connections in the community.”

People from Smethwick and Sandwell attended the classes which were held at the Drum in Aston.

Chairman of Benshow Housing, Bernard Ntivunwa, said the group held seven sessions with the funding.

He said: “We applied to help African ladies in the area after we carried out research which showed that women aged between 50 and 75 in the area were very inactive and this was having an impact on their health. They also said they couldn’t afford recreational activity but if we were able to organise dance classes, then it would benefit them.

“We are very grateful to the Citizen Local Fund so we could arrange the sessions. The classes were African Zumba and the participants were able to suggest their favourite songs and if it was adaptable to the dance style then they could dance to their favourite tunes.

“We had a lot of positive feedback from the participants, particularly with mental health. Some of our participants said they used to be lonely and it helped them create connections with the community.

“We love to see our community getting along and being active. The people who attended the sessions are the ones who use our services. We provide support for refugees, asylum seekers and pensioners who are from the BAME community.”

Benshow Housing are hoping they will be able to host more sessions in future.

Customer engagement partner at Citizen Caroline Arrow said: “We are thrilled to hear how useful the funding has been for Benshow Housing and the ladies who attended the classes.

“At Citizen we want to work with our partners to make a difference to our customers and communities and the Citizen Local Fund does this.

“We love the feedback from Benshow Housing about the dance classes and the experience the community has had by making new connections at the classes and improving their wellbeing.

“Congratulations to everyone who has been successful in the latest round of the Citizen Local Fund, we’re looking forward to seeing the impact the funding makes.”

The other winners in the latest round of the Citizen Local Fund are:

  • BNH Forum, Birmingham – they will be using the money to refurbish the allotment pavilion at the Livingstone Allotments site. The pavilion will be used by the community for a lunch club and other uses such as craft and Pilates classes.
  • Coventry Rambling Club – the funding will help put on walks throughout the year for people who feel isolated or lonely.
  • FishFry, Birmingham – funding will help with a digital literacy initiative for older people. Fish Fry is a food van which provides Caribbean food and is helping older people develop online skills to order food online and pay bills.
  • Ludic Rooms, Coventry – The group will offer a workshop programme that provides informal skills development in communication technologies such as message forums and video chats so residents can connect with each other in William Batchelor House which is a retirement living scheme.
  • Mercia MS Therapy Centre, Coventry – the money will be spent on the project to help the wellbeing of people in the disabled community who have MS. The project will include arts and crafts classes.
  • Guardian Ballers, Coventry – the group will host a big event to engage local residents and young people on the Manor Farm estate. It will include basketball activities, wellbeing conversations and an opportunity to litter pick.
  • Spon Gate Community Church, Coventry – funding will help pay for professional help to clean and renovate a new building which they are relocating their hub to. The church provides activities including youth clubs, mental health drop-in sessions and free student study sessions.
  • St Luke’s, Birmingham – the community group will use the money to provide “bags of kindness” which included a hot water bottle, gloves and toiletries and toys for children. They also held a lunch and craft event.
  • The Noteables, Coventry – the group will use funding to develop the popular outreach sessions to day care centres, local schools, children’s respite centres, and homes for the elderly where community musicians lead music sessions and support people to take part in live music performances where they can sing, dance, play a musical instrument and enjoy the entertainment.
  • Warwick Scout Group – money will be used to restock and expand the group’s camping equipment by buying five tents so more young people can experience camping and outdoor activities.

The next round of the Citizen Local Fund will open in April.

For media enquiries contact our Communications Team.

Benshow Housing Dance Web