New year update from Stratford Town Trust

We’ve delayed our usual new year communication to our members but hope to write to them in more detail towards the end of next month. Sara, Aspley, Stratford Town Trust CEO, gives us her viewpoint at the start of 2021.

I had planned to write to our members at the start of this year with a look towards tentative new beginnings and an outline of the ways we can best support the recovery of our town after a very difficult few months. This is still very much at the heart of our future planning, yet as we are plunged into another national lockdown, it seems premature to imagine we are through the worst. However, we are not standing still and there are many glimmers of hope on the horizon, the rollout of the vaccination programme being one of them. I am also cheered by how well our community pulled together in the last lockdown, looking after others, working in partnership and the success of Stratford Support and know we will do so once again.

Like many other charities, our income was adversely affected last year, meaning our grant making wasn’t possible at the usual level. However, despite working in a landscape that is persistently changing, we are determined to find creative ways to support the charities and community groups who make such a difference to the people of our town.

Towards the end of last year, we awarded £122,258 to local good causes through our newly created Community Recharge Fund. This was in direct response to the many challenges faced by voluntary and community groups as a result of Covid-19. The grants will help organisations to work differently and amongst other things, cover the cost of developing infrastructure, workshops and activities for vulnerable people and the creation of new outdoor spaces. We were also able to open our Fast Track grants for a limited time to facilitate small grants and our support for individuals in need continued to be administered by Citizens Advice South Warwickshire.

We are looking at ways to reconnect our community when we emerge from the current lockdown. We have recently appointed a Freelance Community Engagement Coordinator who will be with us until the end of March, thanks to a successful lottery bid for Foundation House. This will help us to design and deliver projects that connect people, create networks, share skills and improve health and well-being at a local level, which will be much needed as we recover from the impact of the pandemic.

All of us our having to find new ways of doing things and we held our first ever members’ webinar in December. It was heartening to see how many people joined us and we will continue to look at how we can bring our members together, even if this is virtually for the time being. We are still committed to increasing your involvement in the work we do and plan to provide more opportunities for you to participate in live grantmaking and decision making as well as communicating with you more regularly.

Despite all the struggles we currently face, now is a great time to join us as a member and show your love for our community. With your support, we can reach more people and increase our impact, which is needed now more than ever. Please share with others how easy it is to become a member at: www.stratfordtowntrust.co.uk/joinus

What they say about best laid plans is true. At a time when we are due to be launching our five-year strategy, we are in a position where we have to review our focus and desired outcomes once again. We will adapt according to local need and our financial position but whatever happens, we have been at the heart of our community for the last 500 years and we endeavour to stay there and to create a vibrant and connected community, now and in the future. Stay safe and well everyone.

 

Sara

Sara Aspley
Chief Executive
Stratford Town Trust

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