Comic Relief has awarded £29,886 through the ‘Core Strength – Local Communities Programme’ to support three Hampshire community groups with their day-to-day core running costs. The grants programme is administered by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF), with funding enabling local groups to continue to make a huge difference to the lives of the people they support.

 The three organisations receiving support from the ‘Core Strength Local Communities Programme’ are listed below:

Name of Organisation Area Grant
Friends of St James Park Southampton £9,968
Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Club Portsmouth £9,918
Marvels and Meltdowns Gosport £10,000
         Total £29,886

 Friends of St James’ Park – Southampton

Friends of St James’ Park is a responsive community organisation run by Community Volunteer Coordinator, Marina Murphy, (pictured), supported by a strong team of over 40 volunteers. The group has engaged with hundreds of local people through a range of activities, including the ‘Autism Social Group’ which helps members to feel less isolated, and the ‘Shirley Dementia Friendly Community’ providing support for those living with dementia. The St James Runners Group has also proved extremely successful in providing an opportunity for those keen to keep fit while also meeting new people.

The grant of £9,968 will cover the costs of employing two local support workers on a sessional and flexible basis, both who have previously given hours of their time voluntarily, which will help Friends of St James’ Park meet the growing need in the local community.

Marina Murphy, Community Volunteer Co-ordinator for Friends of St James’ Park commented “The two new employees will provide marketing, administrative and financial support for the organisation, enabling me to focus on fundraising, recruitment of more volunteers and project development. Shirley is in the middle of an area which is among the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country and we are delighted that through this grant we can continue to support local people at their time of need.”

Photograph shows Friends of St James’ Park Volunteers with Marina Murphy, the Community Volunteer Co-ordinator second from left.

Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Club

Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Club works with a wide range of local people, including those returning from custody, young offenders, people with substance misuse issues, long-term unemployed and victims of domestic abuse. A grant of £9,918 has been awarded to the club to hire a dedicated part-time bid writer to improve the clubs’ funding stream and to fund a development office to oversee new services and activities and ensure programmes are meeting local needs.

The club is based in an area facing some of the worst health outcomes in the city alongside high levels of crime, low skills and poor educational attainment. The group aims to address these issues, led by Quinton Shillingford MBE, a GB national team boxing coach who holds the highest coaching qualifications available in the county.

Quinton commented, “This grant will make a huge difference, enabling us to continue to support local people facing a range of extremely challenging circumstances. We deliver a range of activities and services for people living in an area of disadvantage and we have developed a proven methodology for engaging some of the hardest to reach people in our community, including those with physical disabilities, mental health issues and those involved in the criminal justice system. This has enabled us to support high numbers of local people to achieve accredited qualifications, while we have trained many people to become club volunteers.”

Photograph shows Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Club Group

 Marvels and Meltdowns – Gosport

Marvels and Meltdowns is a parent lead self-help group, so all activities are run by parents and volunteers with first-hand experience of living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). The group has been awarded a grant of £10,000 to cover overhead and rental costs, to help the family centre continue to provide a safe, calm and friendly environment and meeting place for families and the public.

Samantha Beggs, Funding Officer at Marvels and Meltdowns commented, “Being a parent or carer with a child affected by ADHD, ASC and SPD can be a very isolating, confusing and exhausting journey, with parents facing huge emotional and social barriers. Carers are often judged and feel an overwhelming pressure when out in public if their child doesn’t appear to conform to ideal behaviours, while public spaces can be triggers to the child with over-crowding, harsh lighting, excessive noise or a lack of age appropriate activities causing over stimulatory reactions. Marvels and Meltdowns aims to support families by breaking the cycle of negativity and low mood in order to encourage positive mental wellbeing to benefit all those involved to make life a little easier.”

Photograph shows Marvels & Meltdowns play session.

Grant Cornwell MBE, HIWCF Chief Executive commented, “We are delighted to work with Comic Relief to fulfil our ongoing commitment to smaller local charities working to improve the day to day lives of disadvantaged local people. Unfortunately small charities have been hit particularly hard over the last few years by the difficult economic climate, leaving them urgently in need of core funding to continue their crucial work. The Core Strength Local Communities Programme grants ensure we can continue to support the passionate and motivated staff and volunteers in these community organisations that work so hard to assist those in need.”

HIWCF FUNDS ARE CURRENTLY OPEN – organisations can apply for a grant on: before 13th July 2018. To find out more about HIWCF and our valuable work across Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Southampton and Portsmouth please visit

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