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Rural Scout group given grant from Freebridge Community Fund


A village scout group in West Norfolk has been given a helping hand with its finances from the Freebridge Community Fund.

Runcton Holme & Watlington Scouts were successful in applying for the funding to help them cover their running costs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Scout, Cub & Beaver groups cover a wide area south of King’s Lynn that also includes West Winch, Shouldham, and out towards the edge of Downham Market. They’ve continued running throughout 2020 but have had to go online and have hosted meetings via Zoom. Most of the young people have stayed with them but some have either outgrown it or pledged to return once face to face sessions return.

Given that they weren’t meeting in person, the leaders felt that they couldn’t keep charging parents as treasurer Vicki Nicol explains: “Some of our parents are self-employed or on zero hours contracts and we could be putting a financial strain on families that we didn’t think we could justify doing when they have other things they have to pay.”

For the moment, leaders have been covering their own costs for things like printing and supplies, and existing funds have covered the utilities and maintenance on their scout hut in Runcton Holme.

The location of the hut itself, on a farmer’s field where the farmer pays the business rates, means that they weren’t eligible for any government grants. This isn’t the case for all scout groups though and some in the area have been able to successfully apply for the £10k grants.

Scout HQ will still be charging them as normal next year so the hunt is on for funding sources as Vicki tells us: “We put in for five different community grants but Freebridge was the only one we got. Come March next year we’ll have a bill of £1.5k and we have nowhere near that in the bank.”

They’re talking with parents about slowly resuming face to face meetings, even if those meetings are only monthly to start with. They started charging subscriptions again from October.

Money worries aside, the groups have been using their virtual groups to try activities they haven’t done before as Vicki explains: “All the groups here did sessions with a chef who works in central London about safe knife use. They’ve also had a talk from a firefighter at King’s Lynn fire station. And the Scouts are currently working on their Air Activity badge linking up with an air museum online and are due a visit from an ex tornado pilot too. We’re trying to keep it interesting and not just ‘more screen time’.”

They have big plans for when things start to get back to some sort of normality, Vicki tells us why: “We really wanted 2020 to be an active year because in previous years we’ve done a lot at the hut and haven’t really gone anywhere, however at the end of last year there was a big shake up in the county and we became part of North West Norfolk district, meaning there are so many events and activities we can now join in with.”

The funding from Freebridge’s Community Fund is part of a number of grants provided to West Norfolk charities and community groups by the housing association. Thirteen projects across the area have benefitted this year, with each being awarded amounts up to £1000. This year Freebridge raised the amount available to the fund to £10,000, double the £5000 that is normally offered, to mark the fact that they've been providing this money to groups for a decade.