In February I met Clare Evans from Riverside House to discuss a funding application to the Severn Trent Water Community Fund. Following our meeting, Clare completed the application and sent it to me for review prior to submission.
By way of background, Riverside House is a grade 2 listed building situated on four acres of land between the River Stour and the Stourbridge Canal and is a former Iron Masters estate that had fallen into dereliction. The aim is to develop a place that inspires wellbeing and improves biodiversity by transforming the estate into a haven for people to explore the natural environment and engage with wildlife and ecology. They want to open the land up to the community so that people can share time and experiences together enjoying nature in surroundings that are unique with safe access (using accessible paths and fencing) to view the River Stour and the beauty of the Riverside House site for all members of the community. The wellbeing activities are delivered through the arts, traditional craft, ecology, heritage, food & nutrition and land-based work.
Riverside Stourbridge CIC was awarded £51,934 from the Community Fund in April towards the ongoing development of the project creating a unique wetland ecosystem treatment area to purify greywater improving biodiversity on the site. The greywater purification system will absorb and convert plant nutrients contained in wastewater from their off-grid container café into a biodiverse wetland ecosystem so that rainwater will create a varied biomass yield and wildlife habitat.
Initially they are focusing on supporting people with learning disabilities and autism, mental health issues and those looking for volunteering opportunities so that they can learn and develop practical skills. However, the goal over the next few years is to turn the site into a heritage centre with gardens, restaurant, craft shop, woodland and workshops making it a place where people feel included and bespoke opportunities are provided.
They are working in partnership and collaboratively with many organisations so that their service users can benefit from a variety of positive experiences that enhance the health and wellbeing of the local community. To date, these partners include the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, Dudley Council, Dudley Job Centre and the Dudley CVS/NHS social prescribing service Integrated Plus.
The Severn Trent Community Fund is a £10M fund made available over a five year period (from 2020) to support new local projects, charities and community groups in the Severn Trent region helping to make a real and tangible difference with three levels of funding £2,000-£10,000, £10,001-£75,000 and £75,001-£200,000. Applications are invited from registered charities that work to improve community wellbeing for:
- people providing them with activities so they lead a healthier lifestyle and gain new skills;
- places by creating better places to live;
- the environment giving people greater access to the environment or help look after water.
Applications can be made at any time.