Fred Weller is a one of Worthing Community Chest’s Trustees. Fred was first introduced to the charity when a club he was a member of applied for one of our grants. In this week’s blog Fred tells us about his Worthing Community Chest journey.
In 2010, as a committee member for the Sussex Keyboard and Organ Club, I applied to Worthing Community Chest for a grant. We were facing severe financial problems in budgeting for running costs, in particular the forecast cost of hiring the hall, insurance and other expenses over the next 12 months. All of which was putting the future of our club in jeopardy.
Not having any previous experience of grant applications I was very uncertain of what I had to do. I need not have worried. I received tremendous support from the Community Chest administrator who not only checked that my application form was properly completed but also advised and encouraged me to make the best application I could on behalf of the Club.
We were absolutely delighted when it was approved. At a subsequent concert Councillor Joan Bradley, one of Worthing Borough Council’s representatives on the Community Chest Board of Trustees, came along and presented us with the cheque to cover the costs we had incurred that were covered by the grant. That grant and a subsequent successful application a little over two years later was instrumental in securing the future of our club.
As part of the successful application I agreed to join the Appraisal Panel whose members scrutinise each application and decide on whether or not to approve them.
The Panel is made up entirely of representatives from groups, clubs and small organisations that have been successful in their own Community Chest grant applications. As a result, every member is able to bring that experience to bear in the open discussions at Panel meetings.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a member of the Panel, especially the sense of shared responsibility for the important decision made on each and every application. I also became far more aware of the extent of the support available from Worthing Community Chest to the voluntary work done by individuals and groups in every part of Worthing, most of it unsung but all of it essential to the well-being of its residents.
The Appraisal Panel is Chaired by one of the Community Chest Trustees. In 2013 I was appointed to the Board of Trustees and have since Chaired a number of Appraisal Panels. The Chair has no influence over the decision of the Panel which is reached by an open vote by each Panel member.
Our role is to manage the meeting, to verify that applications, meet the Community Chest criteria, to allow every member the opportunity to contribute and ensure that discussions meet our Equality and Diversity policy. Not every application is successful and in each case the Grants Administrator will advise the applicant as to the reasons for the Panel’s decision.
Panel members, the Panel Chair and the Grants Administrator work together to make sure the final decision is valid and supported by the facts. Many clubs, groups and small organisations throughout Worthing have been helped by Community Chest Grants totalling over £250,000 since 2001. Being a part of that support for the many thousands of people, young and old, who have benefited continues to be a privilege and an opportunity.