NSFN (North Shrewsbury Friendly Neighbours) is a local charity based in Castlefield’s, Shrewsbury. Covering the wards of Castlefield’s, Greenfields, Coton Hill, Ditherington, Heath Farm, Mount Pleasant, Sundorne, Underdale, Monkmoor, Belvidere, Battlefield and Harlescott, we have been supporting those communities for 20 years under the direction of one member of staff and a group of committed volunteers.
We support people in a variety of ways; befriending, food shopping, collecting prescriptions, transporting people to medical appointments, dog walking and helping people to complete applications for the Blue Badge Scheme and for various other appropriate benefits.
In December 2021 we wanted to apply for a specific grant but needed some help with our application so were signposted to the SIP team for support. Our main challenge over the last few years has been securing funding to keep our much-needed services going. The Covid pandemic resulted in a much larger number of support requests for our vulnerable residents, and the pressure to meet those requests became increasingly difficult at times. This was due to a significant proportion of our existing volunteers needing to shield etc., so we had to find alternative ways to help people. Also, over the years the demand for our services has increased dramatically, but this has been in line with reduced funding and management hours.
A meeting was arranged for mid-December with the SIP Team. At the meeting we discussed the pressing need to secure further funding to enable our provision to continue and how we could grow our volunteer base again post-pandemic. We felt the SIP team really understood our needs and assured us they would be able to provide us with support.
A further meeting took place early in the New Year with the Funding and Grants Officer who provided advice and guidance on how best to complete our application for the grant. Our application was submitted and several weeks later we were delighted to hear that we had been successful. Had we not received this grant it would have placed the future of NSFN significantly at risk and with a real threat of closure.
Whilst we were awaiting the outcome of the grant application, we were also advised by the Funding & Grants Officer that another grant was about to launch for organisations who were supporting people who were self-isolating, by choice or necessity. This has been quite a large proportion of the work that we do, so we were very keen to apply. The Officer was again able to provide detailed advice and guidance for the application, ensuring we put in all the relevant and required information to support of our application.
We were delighted to hear that we had also been successful with this and have been awarded the full grant. The awarding of the two grants will enable us to continue our service and provision.
Having access to support from the SIP team has been incredible and has enabled us to look ahead with optimism and a new energy. Due to the funding support, we have now received and the SIP teams understanding of the services we provide. This has made our organisation and volunteers feel all our hard work over the last 20 years (often through very difficult times) really valued and recognized. We can now look forward and continue to grow our services, so our organization remains sustainable for the future. We also now know that we can call on the SIP team for advice, guidance, and support whenever we need it.