Good causes have benefited to the tune of £40,000 after the Bishop of Lichfield’s Lent Appeal.
The money has been given by individuals and parishes throughout the Diocese of Lichfield and will benefit causes abroad and in the UK.
People from across the region joined The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill to decide where the UK portion of the funding should go.
The Practising Generosity event saw the UK portion given to projects focusing on deprived neighbourhood.
Twenty-one groups were present, asking for amounts between £200 and £2000, each giving a three minute presentation. Funds were then allocated based on a voting system.
Each person present voted for their top ten project. Once totalled, the one with the most points is awarded the funds it requested, then the second, third etc until there are no funds left. Twelve projects were fully funded and one partially in this way.
The top score went to a project in Tamworth that wanted to enable children who desperately need free school meals during term-time to continue to receive a hot meal each weekday through the school holidays. The large team presented their project in song, dressed in aprons and waving kitchen utensils.
Second place went to a small team from Pleck, Walsall for Crafty Tuesdays, a social arts/crafts group that brings isolated people together, many of whom are elderly, disabled or have learning difficulties. Their simple presentation included moving testimony from one of the team members who had never given a presentation before.
“It is so often the case that we who are given positions of authority are asked to make decisions from a detached position,” said the Bishop of Lichfield. “This can have impartial benefits, but often loses sight of what it feels like to be part of a community.
“I felt it was one of the best events I’ve ever been to in this diocese. It was so inspiring to see how generosity spreads.”
Once the distribution was made, the ‘winners’ were invited to give back some of what they had been awarded, to enable more projects to benefit.
Almost every groups felt able to give back generously, so that a further £2,250 was available, resulting in 14 fully-awarded grants and one partially funded.
Event organiser The Revd David Primrose added: “It is a most generous act by the Bishop to release the funds from his Lent Appeal for others to distribute as they see fit.
“Many people I’ve talked to before, during and since the event are really enthusiastic about the strengths of this process. It is wonderful to see so many projects moving forward.
“But for me the real mark of success will be to see some of these groups going back to their local councils, police and crime commissioner or other grant bodies and persuading those funding providers to embrace participatory budgeting as a means of prioritising and funding local projects.”