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People of the West Midlands asked to pitch ideas to help boost local communities

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Residents, community organisations and businesses with innovative ideas to help local areas recover from the effects of the pandemic are being offered the chance to win support worth up to £15,000.

Called the Community Recovery Innovation Challenge, 20 prizes worth £500 are available for the best ideas along with an invitation to an innovation masterclass. The top three chosen will each receive bespoke support valued up to £15,000, to help them take their project to the next stage of development. 

The competition is one of the activities being organised by the West Midlands Recovery Coordination Group, formed in June 2020 to address the broader social and community issues concerning the pandemic and look towards recovery. In November 2020 the group produced a Community Recovery Roadmap that set out the challenges faced by the region and the innovative methods used to build resilience during the pandemic. Many of the examples of good practice were short term responses to the crisis, but some can help build back better.

As a result, the new fund has been set up to reward and support ideas that build community resilience.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The challenge supports, in a very practical way, those who have the best ideas to help our communities bounce back from the effects of the pandemic, the challenge will help bring some of the region’s best and innovative ideas to life.

“Now more than ever we need to be creative, and the West Midlands is fortunate to have some of the brightest and best minds in the country. We want our region to come back greener and more inclusive, so I would urge anyone who has an idea that they think could make a difference to please get in touch.”

The 12 categories are:

  • Support the most vulnerable people
  • Tackle domestic violence
  • Deliver ‘people-powered’ health
  • Widen awareness and access to mental health support
  • Make education and training more accessible
  • Help prepare children for school or early years learning
  • Bring the young and the elderly together
  • Support youth employment and skills
  • Encourage grassroots culture, arts and sport
  • Address homelessness or debt issues
  • Increase digital inclusion, and/or
  • Improve access to green spaces

Projects should address at least one of the 12 categories. Proposals must be presented in the form of a short film and/or summary document giving a brief overview of the community, how COVID-19 has impacted it and how their idea will address the problem. Competition entries should include a rough outline of how any funds would be used.

Successful bids will receive support and coaching, and potentially investment, to further develop their project and turn their idea into reality.

Entries should be submitted by midday on 21 March 2021. To find out more visit: www.wmca.org.uk/CommunityBounceback. 

Written by: David Watkins

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