It takes a lot to fill a community hall on a rainy Saturday morning, but for the people of the Woodburn and Dalkeith communities, the chance to showcase their local activities and bid for their share of £18,000 was just enough to whet their appetites.
This morning's event was the first of two local voting days which will give community members the chance to have their say on which community projects they think are worthy of part of the pot.
Midlothian Council, working alongside NHS Lothian, has launched the ‘Food, Glorious Food’ participatory budgeting project which aims to help close the outcome gap in health, learning, and economic circumstances, and enables residents to have direct involvement in the allocation of resources within their own community.
£16,000 has been made available for groups in Woodburn/Dalkeith to improve health through promoting healthy eating, supporting community growing schemes, and other food and health related activities. Each group was able to apply for up to £2,500.
Today marks the first of two Decision Day events where Woodburn/Dalkeith residents will have had the chance to come and meet other members of the community while finding out more about the projects and deciding which groups will receive funding.
“Having two events meant more people could have the chance to cast their vote. One event is held on a Saturday morning in the town centre, and the other a Tuesday afternoon near a local school, so school children and their families will be able to pop in and have their say too”.
Derek Welsh, Midlothian Council
And it was a veritable feast with 11 projects presenting a menu of innovative and creative projects which seek to tackle issues around food and health in the community.
The bids varied from the small - seeking £230 to deliver healthy eating and cooking classes in a local after school club - to much larger projects, including the refurbishment of a kitchen within a community facility used by a range of local groups. Walking round the stalls which were exhibiting their proposals, we heard about an array of health promoting activities - from growing food in community spaces, to cooking and eating together as a family, and promoting sporting memories among people with dementia. And the range of groups being represented meant that people of all sections of the community had the opportunity to benefit, such as children and families, people with dementia, sports clubs, recovery groups and women and children who have suffered domestic violence.
"It was good to find out what is going on in the community and meet some contacts. Would be good if everyone got some funds!" Local resident
As projects pitched their ideas, it was clear that there is a real commitment to improving inequalities in health and wellbeing among the groups of Dalkeith and Woodburn. One parent from a local school parent council told us of the high proportion of children receiving free school meals, and the need to provide opportunities for learning around healthy eating. The event provided some of these groups the opportunity to hear for the first time what others are doing, and to talk about ways that they could work together. For most of the participating groups, participatory budgeting was a new process to them, and they were delighted to have the opportunity to have the community's say in how the funding was allocated:
The lucky projects to receive funds will be announced following the second event to be held next week. For more information visit Midlothian Council