O2’s £1million It’s Your Community programme is calling for great community changing ideas from the South West, asking people if there was one thing they would change about where they live, what that would be – and offering cash awards of up to £1,000 to make it happen. Since launching in July this year, almost 350 projects the length and breadth of the UK have received It’s Your Community funding to get their ideas off the ground. From interesting ways to get young people involved – and off the street – to projects to tackle isolation for the elderly, the number and quality of applications are proof that Britons of all ages have the desire, energy and inspiration to change their community for the better. “We’d love to get more ideas from the South West,” explains Cath Keers, O2’s Customer Director. “So far there have been just over 20 and we know there must be many more people who want to get out there and do something in their local area. We’re here to help them make it happen.” Among the success stories from the region is Plymouth University’s ‘How Clean is Your Street’ project, which set out to show that there’s more than noise and mess to sharing a street with students. It can actually be enjoyable too. Litter picking events made a very visible improvement and at the same time brought local people and students together. “It made everywhere look a whole lot better and helped break down the old barriers,” says Claire Massey from the University’s Volunteering Society. “The It’s Your Community award gave us the morale boost we needed to go forward with our idea.” Projects which have so far received funding prove how small amounts of money can go a long way to build community spirit and help improve people’s lives. “It’s Your Community is about giving the confidence – and cash – to encourage people take the first step,” explains Cath Keers. “Some of our successful applicants have never done anything like this before and might have been daunted by the prospect of lots of forms and red tape. It’s Your Community isn’t like that. Applying is quick and easy, there’s a helpline with real people and you’ll hear back about your application within a very short time.” Each month over 60 projects throughout the UK receive up to £1,000 of It’s Your Community funding. Awards must be for the benefit of the community or to build community spirit. “Just log onto www.itsyourcommunity.co.uk., get inspired by the hundreds of brilliant project up there and see what you can do,” says Cath Keers. Ends

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