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Fund launched to kickstart projects in East Lancashire that connect communities by public transport

Brave Church in Accrington, who secured a grant from last year’s Let’s Connect Communities Fund.

A new £16,000 funding pot will be open to charities, community groups and grassroots organisations across East Lancashire to kickstart innovative and creative projects that connect communities by public transport.

The Let’s Connect Communities fund will support innovative projects that emphasise the potential of public transport to make positive connections between communities by bringing people together.

Projects might include a special group trip by train, work on a sustainable travel project, developing a walking programme, improving a local railway station or producing artwork promoting active travel and the local railway.

Community Rail Lancashire and Connecting East Lancashire are spearheading the new project, which is jointly funded by Community Rail Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire County Council.

The total funding available is £16,000 and each organisation/community group can apply for up to £3,000 each. Any community organisation, community rail partnership, Friends of Stations group, local charity, or CIC that has a bank account and is based in Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale can apply.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate the impact on the community and how it will help promote sustainable travel, access or wayfinding to and from local railway stations. The funding can be used to deliver projects like youth work, mental health services, art projects, support for the elderly, BAME projects, LGBTQ+ groups, education, disability support, local empowerment, etc.

Richard Watts, Chair of Community Rail Lancashire, said: “Local groups have lots of good ideas but not always the means to make them happen. So, Community Rail Lancashire, in partnership with Connecting East Lancashire, is launching Let’s Connect Communities, a fund which will support transport related projects across East Lancashire. We look forward to receiving imaginative applications that help bring communities together.”

Melanie Taylor, Project Officer at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “The Let’s Connect Communities fund is available to support projects that will effectively promote the use of public transport, in particular the local rail network in East Lancashire. I am very excited to see what imaginative and creative projects are suggested, the impact projects will have on the people who will deliver them and the joy the projects will bring to local people and communities who will benefit from them.”

A testimonial from Brave Church in Accrington, who secured a grant from last year’s fund, demonstrates the impact the grant had on one person: “I have not been on a train for 27 years. I recently had to stop driving due to my health issues, and it meant I felt stuck at home. I heard about the buddy scheme and decided I would see if I had the confidence to come to the events at Brave Church by using the train. It was ace, and now I go all over and have got a rail discount card.”

The closing date for bids is Friday 31 March 2023. To find out more and receive an application pack, email communityraillancashire1@gmail.com, or click to download the Guidance Notes and Application Form. Completed applications should be emailed to communityraillancashire1@gmail.com with ‘Let’s Connect Communities’ in the subject field.

Members of the Community Rail Lancashire team may also be able to support some applications with administrative expertise and match funding, especially if rail travel or schools form part of your proposed project.