Tag Archives: funding

What Does £32 Million Buy? (Part 1)

The easy, topical answer, is that it buys a Winter Olympic team, along with 59 athletes, four medals and the material for some great film scripts.

A crowd-funded bobsleigh team, crashing skater and an ice dancer who came back from smashing a kneecap – it’s all there.

I’m not a great sportsman, as you may have guessed from my photos and various comments on size and sloth, but every four years I rotate through Olympics, Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games. The kids make me watch a variety of World Championships, there’s the Rugby World Cup,the Rugby League World Cup and plenty of local news on skaters and kayakers who train in Nottingham. It’s hard not to get involved with all that around on TV.

Now, the question, as raised by National Treasure “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards, is, are we spending too much on Winter sports. We aren’t, it seems, a natural Winter Sport nation.

Unfortunately we aren’t naturally good at Summer Sports, cricket or football either.

So, where do I go from here?

I could go on to discuss sport, politics and the national mood, which always seems to improve when we do well.  It often improves when we lose too, as we all love an underdog and Elise Christie, though devoid of medals, has set an example of determination that’s a great example to the rest of us.

I could talk about sport and money. It’s a massive subject, and it has plenty to offer a cynic, particularly if, like me, you believe that the money would be better spent on developing better drugs programmes. If people want to run as fast as chemicals allow, let’s help them. I’m looking forward to the two minute mile.

However, for those who want to do it the old-fashioned way – hard work and dedication – I’d have a separate set of games. I’d also ban transgressors for life instead of handing them a short rest between games. Yes Justin Gatlin, I’m looking at you.

Finally, as we’ve sort of covered politics, cash and the cowardice of governing bodies, it might be a good time to mention James “Darkie” Peters. I’ll say no more. If you’re interested in the history of sport, apartheid and spineless administrators you will find it interesting.

In Part 2 I will look at what else you can buy with £32 million.

 

 

 

The Polytunnel News

Julia has secured funding to replace the cover on the large polytunnel. She has also secured agreement from the company doing the work that they will bring the work forward to March. There are so many broken polytunnels after recent weather that the original date she was given was in May.

She’s like that. I have to be constantly on my guard or I’d be forever doing housework and tidying up after myself instead of blogging and drinking tea.

The problem is that they don’t really have much to work with. There’s no mains water and no electricity. As a result of that there’s no light to work by when daylight fails. When there’s no large polytunnel the only shelter they have to work in is the container, which is a bit small for the full group and is not very light at the best of times.

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Mencap, Nottingham – the broken polytunnel

You can’t work outside all day in the cold, and the smaller tunnel is set up for growing space, not as a work area. For the last few weeks they have been packing up halfway through the day and walking back to the youth centre.

It’s been a dispiriting time, but with agreement to funding and a bit of better weather things are on the mend.

Fortunately it looks like the other tunnel, though well overdue for a new skin, will last another year.  That gives time for her to raise the money, and as it’s a smaller job, the group ((and volunteers) should be able to do the work without help.

These things are sent to try us

We’ve been applying for a grant from a pot of European money. This one is for the farm to extend the kitchen because schools are increasingly bringing between 60 and 90 pupils instead of the 30 that they used to. Nothing we say seems to be able to stop them. I suspect that it’s because of transport costs and that they are increasingly seeing us a cheap choice for an end of term trip.

That means we have to crowd the kitchen and rush things to get everyone through. I’m often to be found giving directions over my shoulder whilst washing the baking trays from the previous session.

When the farm decided to throw more energy into the kitchen (after six months of deciding to expand, deciding to close down, becoming a juice bar, becoming a greasy spoon etc.. – there is zero logic or leadership in the process) we decided it may be a good idea to expand the kitchen.

If we are able to meet 60% of the costs the fund will contribute the other 40% if we can meet certain criteria. The farm is able to provide the 60% (paid back as a higher annual rent) and together we can meet the criteria, so Julia has spent the last month preparing an outline. It’s been back and forth a few times and it’s about finished now, but it’s taken around twenty hours to do, and she’s not being paid for it.

At this point you start muttering that it’s a lot of work for something that isn’t part of our core business.

Imagine how much more muttering there would be if we were to get a note telling us that things had been postponed until the results of the referendum are known.

Actually, I don’t need to imagine, because that’s what happened last week. There has been a lot of muttering from my dear wife, and if any members of the cabinet are found dead in suspicious circumstances I may have to give a false alibi.

So that’s annoyance number one.

Annoyance number two is that we’ve just been told by one of the carers who brings someone here that their organisation has just had a funding cut from the council. This is initially going to mean a pay cut for everyone of between 2% and 4%. They are then going to reassess all their clients under a new set of selection criteria. Whether this is to select new clients more stringently or to get rid of some of the existing ones we aren’t yet sure.

As I say, these things are sent to try us.

The next post will be more cheerful 😉

Funding – reality strikes back

When we set up the project the theory was that it was going to pay for itself because clients would pay from their personal budgets (which were just being introduced) and we would have a company that funded itself from fees and produce sales.

Things didn’t quite develop as we intended. The council still seems to control the budgets and they have cut many of our clients back until one of them is now paying only half the daily rate we started with.

We weren’t expecting to make a fortune but we were expecting to take a small wage out of it. We don’t, and that’s why we have several other part-time jobs to make ends meet.  However, this is about funding, not about me moaning about housekeeping.

When we started, other projects couldn’t believe what we were doing, or that we were viable. I suppose that’s what happens when you grow up in an era where people throw money at you. Soon, though, we noticed a change, as people were coming to talk to us about how we did it. Don’t get me wrong – there are other people out there who cover their costs without grants, but they are few and far between.

Unfortunately we can’t advise people how to do it because they can’t replicate what we have, such as a modest lifestyle, a small house with no mortgage and a willingness to work for less than minimum wage.

The only advice we could give, apart from lowering costs and expectations, and becoming a charity as you can access more funds that way. With so much competition for funding most people with money to give away will only give to registered charities. We are a Community Interest Company (Quercus Community CIC, according to our full title) and have never followed my advice.

Many local groups have gone this route over the years, though it’s still relying on grants rather than earning your own money. We have applied for grants now and then but are generally turned down. I know it’s nothing personal because it was much the same when I was involved in fund-raising for junior sports clubs. We once wanted new shirts for a junior rugby team – it eventually took over six months, including grants from three sources, four days of bag-packing in supermarkets and some nifty sponsorship deals. If you don’t have a good brand and a good sob story it’s a long, hard slog to raise funds.

I’ve just been reading a report from the NCVO on the current funding of charities – small charities have more erratic funding due to fewer income streams, the emphasis is shifting to income generation from grants and legacies are a neglected form of fund-raising – are three key points, though not unexpected.

In one way it’s good to be vindicated about income generation, but in others it’s a bit of a worry. As for the legacies, I’ve known about the benefits of legacies for years (from a sport-related training course believe it or not) but I don’t think we have a big enough pool of people to mention it to. It’s a delicate subject unless you can blanket a large membership with a reminder about it. With just a few elderly people about the place we’re more likely to be vilified as a modern Burke and Hare.

 

What I learned today

I’ve been having a bad time of things. You may have guessed from some of the things I’ve written. But today I learned it doesn’t really matter.

A week ago I’d have seriously considered amputation as a cure for my arthritis; I was considering a shallow grave as a solution to a problem I was having with someone, and there was no hope. It’s also been raining copiously, which probably sounds great if you’re in California but isn’t great when you’re in the middle of harvest or trying to grow vegetables in clay soil.

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The lesson, which I should have learned before (and thought I had, if I’m honest) is that things pass.

My finger, indeed my whole body, is pain free as a result of the pills I’m on. The irritant is still irritating, but I decided to forgive her and make her as significant as dust.. So far that’s working. I now have hope again, though it’s a roller-coaster (more of that later) and the rain just stopped. Even before it had stopped I’d accepted that it will rain. Living in the UK you really can’t afford to get het up about the rain.

Anyway – hope…

We had two good, though tediously overlong, meetings yesterday and we’re now well on the road to finding an artist in residence. As part of that discussion we also talked to a few people about finding more groups to work with (hopefully in a profitable manner) and although we’ve been here fruitlessly before, my inner optimist says “Yes!”. .

Today we had a short meeting, which was good in itself. Even better, we now have a number of local doctors who know what we have to offer.

In a couple of weeks I may be less hopeful but for now, I have hope.

Tomorrow we have a leading academic and some overseas visitors. We’re clearly doing something right, but at the same time we’re failing to establish a financially sustainable project.

Away from all the grown-up stuff I’ve also had a good ladybird spotting session with the group, though much of it centred round the fact that not all ladybirds are red with black spots. Seems years of cartoonish ladybirds have set a precedent. You can’t be down for long when you have the group around.

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When the doctors arrived they gathered round like a flock of helpful locusts, telling them what we did and giving all sorts of helpful upbeat information. That’s the sort of testimonial you can’t buy, though they could perhaps have left out details of the post-lunch burping session.

I had to point out to the doctors that the winner (with six) didn’t have a medical condition, merely a talent for eructation.

The pork is sizzling, the vegetables are browning and we have broad beans ready for steaming. I’ve also brought the tips back: you have to take them off to prevent black fly so you may as well eat them.

I would say it’s time to relax but after 25 years of marriage I know better. Just as I am ready to wind down and prepare for the coming week my wife is just winding herself up to start her week. The first stage is to give me a list of jobs for tomorrow. then she starts asking about jobs she thinks I haven’t done from last week. That’s when I go “to check the food in the kitchen”. It gives me ten minutes peace. Muttering “social media” is currently a good one too, though you do have to tap a keyboard to make it believable.

It seems like it’s time to get the begging bowl out again and start applying for grants. It will take a couple of weeks, we will spend a lot of time on it and we will eventually be told that there is a lot of competition and unfortunately we haven’t been successful in this funding round. we are, of course, welcome to waste more time and apply in the next round of funding.

Sorry about the cynicism but such is life.

I won’t bore you with a discussion of funding, or excuses about why we haven’t managed to expand or set up a retail operation or rob a bank. We just prefer gardening,working with members of the project and feeding weeds to visiting children. It’s a good life, but not a lucrative one.

So my solstice resolutions are (1) start applying for funding (2) come up with some bright ideas for raising money. If you have any ideas let me know. They have to be legal (though I’m flexible about this) and practical for a tubby middle-aged couple so no mountains and no long-distance cycling.

We’re going to be organising an autumn fair later in the year because it’s not only legal but involves cake. That’s my sort of fund-raising!

Ah well, that’s the end of my “social media” excuse – better go and check the pork.

Time for plans tomorrow…