A donation of £7,500 was awarded across four charitable causes that provide valuable contributions to Bracknell Forest residents.

Leading Bracknell-based shopping destination The Lexicon partnered with Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF) to launch The Lexicon Charity Fund, which aims to support general charitable purposes in Bracknell Forest, including charities delivering services within schools and education.

A total of fourteen applications were made for the first round of funding, with a maximum grant of £2,000. These included a wide range of organisations and projects, ranging from community support organisations and rejuvenation projects at local schools, to charities supporting specific community groups or needs, such as minority groups, those in danger of homelessness, those with health needs, or families.

BCF undertook detailed due diligence on all the applications which were then jointly reviewed with the Lexicon, and four charitable causes were selected for the grants. These groups or projects were felt to best reflect the concerns and priorities of residents of Bracknell Forest, particularly those who are disadvantaged, and fit well with existing community services and activities.

However, the grants process was delayed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lexicon and BCF were able to complete the process in October 2020, when it was clear that these projects were still relevant and would meet vital needs within the community.

Anita Herbert, Community Impact Manager at BCF, said: “Due to the challenges surrounding the pandemic, the grants process wasn’t clear-cut, but what was crucial to the success of these grants was the flexibility of The Lexicon in coping with the evolving situation, and being supportive of how these community groups and schools needed to adapt.  In a disrupted and rapidly changing environment, we needed persistence in liaising between funder and grant recipients, whilst bridging the understanding between the two. Ultimately, local residents and communities are the beneficiaries of these very worthy projects.”

Pilgrim Hearts Trust, which helps homeless and vulnerable adults, received £2,000.

This amount was originally to help fund the provision of a night shelter for those left homeless, but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the charity decided to put it towards a Freephone line to offer advice, support and encouragement for those left homeless, or in danger of being homeless.

Elaine Chalmers-Browne, Director of Pilgrim Hearts Trust, said, “The Freephone line has already saved many people from desperate situations. For instance, over Christmas a member of the public called the helpline after discovering someone who was sleeping rough and did not have a mobile phone. We were then able to give advice about how they could get help.  Over the last month we have received 15 calls, and provided advice, emotional support and practical assistance. We expect the number of calls to increase as word gets out that the helpline exists.”

Berkshire Search and Rescue Dogs, which assists the police to search for and reunite vulnerable missing people, received £2,000.

This money went towards purchasing a lightweight, portable pocket defibrillator, used to save the life of someone suffering a cardiac arrest. It will be used on all search and rescue missions, conducted on average once a week, and also during weekly training sessions to help keep the search teams safe.

Peter Duke, funding lead at Berkshire Search and Rescue Dogs, said, “A dog handler is required to carry a lot of equipment, but must remain agile in order to control and guide a search dog when searching for a vulnerable missing person. Early defibrillation of a casualty is important as it can increase survival rate by as much as 74%, yet a normal sized defibrillator is both bulky and heavy. A pocket-sized version is the perfect solution and will increase the capability of the search team significantly.”

Meadow Vale Primary PTA, comprising parents and carers who organise events to raise money for school resources and equipment, received £1,500.

This has helped to fund its pond regeneration project, as part of the school’s growing emphasis on outdoor learning. Plans include installing a cover that allows for safe pond dipping, making the decking non-slip, clearing rubbish, trees and debris from the area, and introducing fish to the pond. The school also plans to create an outdoor classroom area, build a shed to store outdoor equipment, rebuild fencing, and create a proper path to the pond. Bird boxes and bug houses will be added, with designs submitted by school children in a competition.

The school aims to reopen the area to children in March 2021. Lisa Dansey, Treasurer of Meadow Vale PTA, said: “The pond area was originally set up in 2000 and has been neglected for at least ten years, and unused for about six years. This is very sad and a waste of a valuable outdoor resource which the children really missed. The PTA and school are very excited to get this area useable again for the children, so they can have outdoor lessons, look at life cycles, identify bugs and learn about nature. The grant we have been awarded will really help us to ensure this happens.”

Winkfield St Marys Church of England Primary School received £2,000.

This will go towards redeveloping and improving the Quiet Garden for the use of Reception and Key Stage 1 pupils. It will be a place for children to relax and be calm, and learn about nature, plants and protecting wildlife. The school aims to begin work on the garden at the end of the Spring term.

Helen Evans, Reception Class Teacher, said: “I would like to express our huge thanks for the fantastic amount of money donated to the school through The Lexicon Charity Fund. This will really help us to resource our Key Stage 1 Quiet Garden area. We are keen to develop children’s gross motor skills and so being able to purchase equipment such as a range of different size balls, ribbons, cones as well as some exciting obstacle course type resources will be brilliant. Additionally, we are also interested in developing children’s experiences of planting, growing and looking after plants. We know how important this is in terms of looking after our world and especially for our children who will benefit from the sensory nature to this learning. This money will certainly support us in making the whole area exciting and appealing to our young children.”

More information about the Berkshire Community Foundation can be found here

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