Community Investment and our Neighbourhood Plan
Community investment refers to the money, time, skills and expertise we invest in developing and supporting the Blacon community. It goes beyond our core service provision and recognises that successful neighbourhoods depend on a complex balance of social, economic and environmental conditions.
Avenue Services has an annual budget for community investment which is set out in our business plan.
All community investment is used to fund projects and initiatives within the Blacon Ward. Like many organisations, our budgets have been, and will continue to be, reduced due to the financial impact of the pandemic. However, we’re keen to hear from anyone who can help make a positive difference for our residents and will do our utmost to support as many projects as we can during these challenging times.
Our aim is to achieve value for money by using our investment to secure additional resources. This helps to make our money stretch even further and ensures that projects and programmes become sustainable in the long-term.
There are two pathways for community investment:
1. Blacon Neighbourhood Plan – the plan provides opportunities for individuals, groups and organisations to apply for funding for smaller local projects (up to £5,000). If you would like to apply please read the Neighbourhood Plan Guidance Notes, the Impact Framework for External Partners and then complete the Blacon Neighbourhood Plan Application Form. Applications for our 2023-2024 Neighbourhood Plan close on Tuesday 31 January 2023.
The Avenue Services Neighbourhoods team supports the development and delivery of numerous local projects included in the Blacon Neighbourhood Plan which meet the aspirations of the Blacon community. We hold close working relationships with Cheshire West and Chester Council, Sanctuary Group, local councillors, charities, Blacon schools, community groups and residents to develop projects and allocate our investment.
Our investment is for initiatives/projects that benefit Blacon residents.
The Neighbourhood Plan is reviewed by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Locality team, Sanctuary Group’s Community Investment team with final approval by the Avenue Services Board annually at each February or March meeting. To see some examples of successful projects please click on the following links, Summer Activities, Blacon Festival, Royal Celebration and Living History Project.
2. Surplus Fund Projects – provides opportunities for individuals, groups and organisations to apply for funding for larger projects (over £5,000). These projects are funded from any surplus generated by Avenue Services and are referred to as ‘discretionary projects’ in the Avenue Services Business Plan. Applications are conditional on there being a surplus available. If you would like to apply please read the Surplus Project Fund Guidance Notes, the Surplus Impact framework for external partners and then complete the Surplus Project Fund Application Form.
Completed Neighbourhood Plan and Surplus Fund application forms can be emailed to email@example.com or delivered to: Avenue Services, The Office at Parade Enterprise Centre, 14 The Parade, Blacon, Chester, CH1 5HN.
Surplus fund projects are considered throughout the year and can be presented at any board meeting. The Board will approve or decline projects based upon the business case, alignment with our priorities, expected outcomes and subject to having sufficient resources to finance the project. Please click on the following links to see some examples of successful projects – Activity Centre makeover, Blacon Youth facility secured, new all-weather pitch and a new pump track.
We have five key priority themes for investment. Behind this we have an impact framework which helps us to consistently assess approaches for funding. Our five priorities are:
Employment, education, skills and training
We aim to support residents in developing skills and accessing training opportunities in order to enter into, and sustain, employment.
• Increasing access to pre-employment support.
• Assisting job seekers to find employment.
• Supporting skills development and training opportunities.
• Providing employment and volunteering opportunities.
• Supporting work placements and work experience.
• Helping to remove barriers to work.
• Developing opportunities for self employment.
• Working with schools to increase educational attainment.
Community safety and infrastructure
We aim to ensure that our communities are safe places to live and are equipped with the infrastructure they need to shape their aims and aspirations.
• Developing long-term, resident-led models of community development.
• Helping community centres to develop financially sustainable models of operation.
• Supporting community groups to provide essential services.
• Assisting in the establishment of social enterprises.
• Facilitating community information sharing and communication.
• Supporting the provision of projects and activities designed to reduce antisocial behaviour.
• Celebrating and rewarding community participation and volunteering.
• Supporting crime reduction initiatives.
• Addressing digital exclusion.
• Creating and improving physical spaces for play and interaction.
We aim to make our neighbourhoods greener and cleaner places in which to live and to assist our residents to live more sustainable lifestyles.
• Encouraging the reduction of waste through recycling and reuse.
• Supporting the better use of outdoor spaces.
• Assisting communities to reduce their carbon footprint.
• Facilitating more sustainable transport choices.
• Helping people to keep places and spaces attractive and well maintained.
• Supporting projects which promote more sustainable resource use.
Health and well-being
We aim to support residents to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives, with access to the care and support services they need.
• Providing opportunities for social interaction for those who are lonely or at risk of isolation.
• Supporting those in recovery from addiction.
• Helping people to live independent lives.
• Facilitating access to counselling, peer mentoring or other forms of emotional support.
• Increasing access to affordable and healthy food.
• Providing access to local sports facilities and activities.
• Providing support for those with specialist needs.
We aim to ensure that everyone is able to access the basic financial services products that are needed to participate in a modern society.
• Helping residents to maximise household income through welfare and benefits advice.
• Facilitating access to affordable credit and budgeting advice.
• Supporting programmes aimed at developing financial confidence.
• Helping to reduce fuel poverty.
• Facilitating digital inclusion to enable access to online banking and financial services.
• Helping to sustain those in low paid employment by removing financial barriers.
• Assisting residents in accessing appropriate debt, banking and financial product advice.
We want to ensure that we are successful in supporting residents and communities through our Neighbourhood Plan. We aim to ensure that the maximum amount of investment is delivered directly to benefit communities, rather than being diverted into management costs or overheads.
Our Neighbourhoods team works closely with the Council’s Locality team to ensure that our community investment activities are aligned with regional priorities.
Overall responsibility for ensuring that Avenue Services is delivering its objectives rests with the Avenue Services Board.