Minister finds out how scheme is helping people in Queens Park

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude visited Bedford this morning (Thursday) to see how a Government scheme was helping local people in Queens Park.

MP for Horsham and Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis visited All Saints Church in Westbourne Road to hear all about Community First Panel in Bedford.

The national scheme represents the eligible wards for Neighbourhood Match Funding - a £30million small grant programme for some of the most deprived areas in the country, enabling local people represented on Community First Panels to direct match funding to social action projects in their neighbourhoods.

The Bedford panel will have received a total of £16,955 over four years by next March.

It has provided funding to a number of project in Queens Park, including Faith In Queens Park, a basketball club, it has launched an over 60s club.

And this year it is hoping to plough funding into the Dementia Diversity Forum, a project run by Bedford Carers, that will dub a dementia awareness DVD into different language making it available to different ethnicities.

Francis told the T&C: “ I have visited a couple of different panels around the country and they are all very different.

“This one looks to be running very well and it is clear they have an idea of what the main issues in the area are.

“This scheme is very good because it doesn’t just lay down a load of money, it gives the community a chance to assess what they actually need the money for.”

Francis also advised the group to look into the National Citizen’s Service, a scheme for 16-17-year-olds, that offers two residential weeks away teaching life skills and how to work together.

They then use the skills they have learnt to launch a social action project in their community.

Faith in Queens Park, based at All Saints Church, is a very active multi-faith community project which uses sports, music and local heritage to bring the local community together.

The partnership consists of the local parish church, Mosque and Sikh Gurdwara providing cricket, basketball coaching and teams - in a typical week almost 300 youngsters and adults will be involved in projects.

And Faith Tours see a further 6,000 or so adults and youngsters annually on a learning tour of the Mosque, Gurdwara and Church.