#UniForReading: Community projects to receive £50,000 as part of new University initiative
05 October 2021
£50,000 has been awarded to local community projects as part of a new University of Reading initiative.
The Community Fund, launched earlier this year, has been set up by the University, in partnership with the John Sykes Foundation. It offers financial support to projects that benefit the people and community of Reading. This is the first year of a two-year pilot, with both organisations contributing financially.
University staff members were invited to apply for funding to support projects they are involved with either as part of their job, or in a voluntary capacity.
The successful projects cover a diverse range of areas, including art, music, education, sport and heritage, and are aimed at helping those with disabilities, the homeless, refugees, school pupils and more. Among other projects, the money will help fund:
- a mixed ability rugby team, including those with disabilities
- a refugee football team based in Reading
- a tuition programme for pupils who have been excluded from school
- helpingReading's homeless develop work skills and build confidence
Applications were received for 29 community projects, for a total of £140,000 in funding. Funding decisions were made by a panel, which included: Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Van de Noort and Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans, Deputy Head of Department for Geography and Environmental Science and Public Engagement with Community Research Fellow, whose research focuses on working with local communities, alongside John Sykes, Founder & Chair of Trustees and Sian McCoubrey, Volunteer, from the John Sykes Foundation.
The panel were impressed by the quality and diversity of the proposals, meaning some difficult decisions had to be made. Priority was given to those projects which demonstrated commitment by colleagues to volunteering their time outside of work; the legacy for the local community; and the ability to reproduce in future years or on a larger scale.
Professor Robert Van de Noort said: "It was great to see so many applications from such a wide variety of Schools and Functions across the University. It is testament to the commitment of our colleagues to their local communities and our town. Our staff do so much for Reading, showing we truly are a University for Reading."
John Sykes said: "My family and I are proud of our Reading roots and passionate supporters of the people of Reading through the John Sykes Foundation. The range of charities and community groups represented was inspiring, and it was fantastic to see new ones brought to light. This is a very promising start to this two-year pilot and our partnership with the University. I am looking forward to seeing how this funding will help change and improve the lives of local people supported by these community projects."
Projects supported by the Community Fund will be featured throughout the coming academic year.
For those projects that were not successful this year, they can contact the Alumni and Supporter Engagement Office (ASEO) for more support. Alternatively, there is the opportunity to apply for crowdfunding through Reading FundSpace, run by the University, to raise funds needed for community projects.
The Community Fund will open again for applications in the spring/summer next year.
About the John Sykes Foundation
Established in 2014 by John Sykes, the John Sykes Foundation is a UK registered charity which has been established to improve the lives and well-being of individuals and communities within the town of Reading where there is an element of disadvantage. Read more about the Foundation at johnsykesfoundation.org