Champions in distress
We first got involved with The Scarman Trust a couple of years ago during the development of CampaignCreator. They were tasked with coaching members of the community on how to campaign and how to use the site.
Since then I’ve got to know them and their work in the South West a little better. At the moment we’re producing a marketing campaign for a series of guides they have produced to help communities help themselves.
Another cornerstone of their work is in dispersing small grants to creative and energetic members of communities to help with community cohesion. It is a programme called Community Champions. Unfortunately the DfES, before it was reorganised, decided to stop funding the programme and The Scarman Trust are working hard to save it. They have started a petition to save community champions on the Number 10 Downing Street site and I’ve signed it. I hope you will too.
The petition copy reads:
Community Champions is a unique and effective award scheme for
individuals. Award winners run projects in their communities which make
a real difference, and give them the chance to transform where and how
they live. In doing so, they gain a tremendous boost to their
However, the DfES will end the Community Champions programme in March 2008, and there are no plans to replace it.
loss of the Community Champions awards will be felt most by communities
already experiencing significant disadvantage. Community Champion
projects give youngsters positive things to do, bring elders out of
isolation, encourage people to share skills and promote healthy
I’m normally sceptical about signing petitions people ask me to, but I have no qualms about this one because I’ve met a few of those champions. In March Sophia and I ran a live version of The Weakest Think at a Scarman Trust fund-raiser and we had some great participants who were Community Champions.
Tony used his grant to set up a mental health advocacy service in Cornwall. Laura has set up a support service to help families with visually disabled children. Lawrence Hoo has campaigned for better facilities and care for his community in Bristol. There are thousands more like them and without the Community Champions programme a very efficient way of helping communities help themselves will disappear.