Hello all! We held our first AGM last night, so thought it would be timely to provide an update on our project for all of those who couldn’t attend.
First of all, we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported our cause over the last 15 months – whether you’ve donated to our crowdfunding campaign, attended our events, shared or liked our posts, nominated us as your Co-op local cause – we’re so grateful. Every little bit really does help. And if you have supported us, you’d probably like to know what’s happening. So here you go.
We spent most of last year working with the Council to get the project approved. As you can probably imagine, local government works slowly, so we didn’t even get the official go ahead until the autumn. Then there were more approvals needed to get the playground design brief (which we based on the two public consultations we ran) signed off.
Although the Friends were allowed input into the playground design brief (ie the types of equipment we’d like to see and the objectives we’d like it to meet), we weren’t allowed any input into the decision as to what the final playground design will look like – this is entirely the Council’s decision. We are meeting the Council at the end of April to see the winning design, and we are hoping that we will be able to share it with you straightaway. We’re confident that whatever they come up with will be a vast improvement on what’s there currently!
The whole project will cost £70,000 (£60,000 for equipment and installation, £10,000 to put towards maintenance costs). We’re currently at just under £30,000 (see fundraising section below for more detail). We do have a long way to go, but are also conscious that £30,000 could fund some very significant improvements in the interim. Though the Friends are committed to seeing this project through to the end, however long it takes, we’re conscious that there’s no guarantee of how quickly we’ll reach the £70,000 target, and we’d like the community to start benefitting sooner rather than later. So we are now working hard to convince the Council to consider a two-stage installation – using a portion of the money that we currently have in the bank to make some improvements over the summer. The downside is that a two-stage installation would be more expensive than doing it all in one hit, but we think the advantage of new play equipment sooner outweighs this. If you agree, it would be fantastic if you could tweet/email/write to our local ward councillors and Bromley Council expressing your support for a two-stage installation. Pressure from the wider community will be much more powerful than pressure from the Committee alone.
We have just under £30,000 ‘in the bank’. £15,000 has come from Bromley Council’s Community Fund, but most the rest has come from the community itself – £5,500 through our crowdfunding campaign, £1300 from the various events that we’ve run, £1100 from Parish CE Primary charity days, £1000 from Co-op local causes and £500 from Waitrose charity collections. On top of that, we’ve also been awarded £5000 from a local housing association – we’ll let you know more once the ‘i’s have been dotted and the ‘t’s crossed.
We’ve just applied to the Big Lottery Fund for a large sum; we’re waiting to hear whether our first round application has been successful. If so, there’ll be a lot of work to do getting our second round application ready, with a view to finding out whether we’ve been successful in the autumn.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to apply to other community funds – we absolutely don’t want to be in the position of finding out that our lottery bid has been unsuccessful in October, and still be £40,000 short (if we find ourselves in the very fortunate position of being ‘over funded’ for the playground, there are lots of further improvements that we could make). A very lovely lady contacted us through Facebook to ask if she could put us forward to a grant offered by her employer, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for that – if anyone else’s employer runs a similar scheme, please get in touch.
We’re also going to push the Co-op Local Causes. This really is FREE MONEY. In case you’re not aware, Co-op members (ie loyalty card holders) can nominate Kings Meadow as their local charity of choice. For the 12 months from November 2018, for every £1 spent on Co-op products, 1p is given to the local charity. A few pence per transaction may not seem like a lot, but five months in and we’ve raised £1,000 this way. We want to get to £4,000 by the end of the year, so we’re keen for as many people as possible to sign up. If you’re not a member, you can still support us by passing us your Co-op receipts – we can retrospectively allocate them to a member. You could help us by collecting receipts from your school/pre-school/work place/friends and then passing them to us.
Though fundraising for new playground equipment is key to the Friends, so too is building community spirit. To that end, we’ve run a number of low-cost events over the past 12 months, and have more planned for the remainder of the year. They are:
Dogs’ Trust event
Lego card swap
Kings Meadow Community Fun Day (stall and sponsored toddle)
Family Fitness sessions
Kite Flying Festival
Easter Egg Hunt
Dogs’ Trust event
Family Sports Day
We’ve also worked hard to make a few other small improvements to the park, including:
Removing the bush that was a receptacle for waste
Building, planting and maintaining a flower bed
Repairing the perimeter fence to keep dogs safe
Painting distance markers around the perimeter path.
So, all in all, 2018 was a pretty busy and successful year, and 2019 looks to be even busier.
If you’ve got any questions or comments on any of the above – or any other aspect of the Friends’ work – please do get in touch.
(and well done if you’ve managed to read to the end, phew)!