Small things make a big difference to Community Groups

Tuesday 13 November 2018
Advertisement Feature in association with the Aviva Community Fund

Across the UK, community projects work tirelessly with often very little resources to help change and improve their local areas and services. This is something that I have seen first-hand through my own involvement over the years with various groups on both a personal and professional basis. Personally, I’ve been involved in a number of groups as my kids have grown up from toddlers to playgroup, PTA and out of school club, uniformed organisations, sports clubs and more. I’ve also volunteered for wonderful causes including the environment, cancer care, family support and running. Professionally I’ve worked with a number of fantastic organisations on food education projects for adults, children and disadvantaged groups. All of these initiatives help make a lasting difference and bring communities together. 

The Aviva Community Fund supports and celebrates groups that make a big difference by working hard in the community. Support, practical advice and funding from £1,000 up to £25,000 is available across three categories of projects – environmental, health & wellbeing and skills for life. The Aviva Community Fund is now in its fourth year. Since it began there have been more than 15,000 entrants and more than 2,000 winners who have benefited from funding to allow them to continue the great work they do in their local communities. 

The Aviva Community Fund works by inviting members of the community to submit an idea, big or small that will make a real difference to a local group, charity or cause that they are passionate about. 

To find out exactly how small things can make a big difference I paid a visit to Future Choices in Aberdeen who were awarded £1,000 in 2016. Based at Inchgarth Community Centre, the group meet on a Tuesday and provide a lifeline to people with disabilities across Aberdeen who would not otherwise have contact with the outside world. Celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year they have over 80 members on their books (thankfully they don’t all turn up to each session!) Getting people to the centre is a logistical conundrum in itself, with minibuses heading out to the north and south of the city to provide transport. A vital team of volunteers facilitate and support the popular weekly sessions which simply couldn’t be run without their commitment. 

The funding they received from the Aviva Community Fund has been used to purchase a range of disabled friendly games comprising of giant and inflatable versions of bowling, hoopla, snakes and ladders and scrabble. Chairman David Forbes told me how delighted Future Choices were to have been awarded the funding and how the simplified application process made it so much easier to apply for than more traditional sources. He admitted that they never expected to get it but were heartened by how the whole community rallied around to cast votes for them and how the power of social media quickly enabled them to reach out to their supporters. 

I quickly learned that when members come to Future Choices they leave their disabilities at the door. There’s a real buzz and friendly vibe in the room and a selection of different activities taking place. Dominoes, papercrafts, board games, knitting and sewing; with some members taking part in group activities and others working individually. One of the highlights of the session is lunch. This is, for many, the only opportunity they have to socialise over a meal. 

It didn’t take long before I was embroiled in a highly competitive game of bowling. It was clear to see how much enjoyment these games bring. Their size meant that they were accessible, by all, no matter what their ability. Much hilarity, great banter, erratic scorekeeping, perhaps a wee bit of cheating but all in good humour. What initially looks like a pretty simplistic game actually helps with social skills, physical activity and promotes self-esteem. Equal hilarity with hoopla and I won’t even mention the chaos that ensued with snakes and ladders! 

Now it’s up to YOU to do a small thing that can make a big difference. This can be done in many ways, perhaps by dedicating your time and energy to a community group close to your heart. Even easier is to cast a vote for a group to win. Get Voting for your favourite projects before the deadline of 20th November. Once you register, you’ll get 10 votes. These can be spread around, or all used to support one project – it’s your choice. But use them wisely. Once you use a vote, you can’t take it back. 

What happens next? 
When voting closes the 400 projects with the most votes in £1,000 funding level will receive the funding they’ve applied for. The projects with the highest number of votes that have applied for over £1,000 of funding will be become finalists to go through to the judging phase where, if they are selected, they will be awarded funding in early 2019. 

With just a couple of clicks you can join the hundreds of UK community groups that are making a real difference with lasting impact. Cast your votes now at

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