Mayor names “learning” as the next focus for the Mayor’s Fund and celebrates the success of previous campaigns

Learning has been named as the next focus for the Bristol Mayor’s Fund, the charitable trust which aims to give a boost to local causes.

The Fund’s backing for learning projects will support Bristol’s Year of Learning 2016 and its status as a Learning City, where partners work together to promote, plan and celebrate learning opportunities for everyone.

The Mayor’s Fund offers grants of up to £2,000 to local voluntary or community groups which support Bristol residents.  Support from the fund changes each year to respond to a wide range of different local issues.

Now, grants will be focused on organisations which work to encourage and enhance learning outside formal education.

The fund was set up by Bristol’s first elected Mayor, George Ferguson, who donates 20% of his salary to it each month.

Mr Ferguson said: “I am delighted to be able to announce learning as the next theme for the Mayor’s Fund. Both formal and informal learning at any level is an essential part of creating social mobility and can be key to empowering some of the most disadvantaged in the city.
“I have named 2016 as Bristol’s Year of Learning and hope that by raising the profile of education and skills we will be able to encourage peoples to learn new things and develop to make this city a more equal and fairer place to live.

“I have been touched by the hundreds of donations that the people of Bristol have already made to this Fund. I hope that those who can, and want to, will join me once again in backing this independently managed fund for Bristol which is making a difference to Bristol’s wellbeing and improving the opportunities and quality of life of some of the more disadvantaged amongst us.”

Last year’s Fund was aimed at helping people with mental health problems and physical disabilities.  One of those organisations was Stepping Out who, thanks in part to the financial support of the Mayor’s Fund, will be putting on a show later this month.  The Mayor will be attending the show to show his support in person.

Stepping Out is the country’s leading mental health theatre group.  The group helps to support and empower people who use Bristol’s mental health and drug or alcohol services; these people make up most of the cast.

Steve Hennesy, Stepping Out spokesperson and Project Coordinator, said: “Thanks to the funding we received from the Bristol Mayor’s Fund we have been able to put on a seasonal show called Cinderella – The Cillit Bang Years! – which will be running at the Alma Tavern between the 16-20 February.  The show is a fun filled twist on a traditional pantomime for people of all ages and we invite everyone to buy a ticket and come on down.

“We are all delighted that the Mayor will be coming to watch our show and promise to give him a great performance as a thank you for his contribution.”

For more information about the show and to find out where you can buy tickets head to the charity’s website.

Grants from the Mayor’s Fund have enabled local organisations to start new projects and reach new people across the city.

The Bristol City Community Trust is a registered charity whose role within the greater Bristol area is to use the power of football and other sporting activities to improve the lives of people through sport, exercise and education.  They work with over 60,000 people from a range of diverse backgrounds to offer opportunities to learn and overcome isolation through football.

Amy Kington, Trust Director said “The Trust acknowledges with gratitude the support provided by the Mayor’s Fund.   We’ve been able to provide over 30 homeless people with a 6 week educational programme which focuses on awareness, control, trust, relationships, resilience, perspective, communication and goal setting.  This has done so much to help raise their aspirations, develop their career prospects and give them the positivity and hope they need to change their current situation”.

Off The Record Bristol is a well-established charity in Bristol that works with young people to promote and improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Simon Newitt, Chief Executive of Off The Record, said: “The Bristol Mayor’s Fund has helped contribute to the cost of setting up our online help database, the Resilience Lab.  Online tools are essential for reaching a younger audience many of which turn to the internet as their first point of call for help.  With this tool we hope to help thousands more people both young and old that are currently unreachable through counselling.”

If you would like to donate to the fund, or if you’re part of an organisation that might fit the description for this year’s cause, you can apply for a grant or find out more information on the Quartet Community Foundation’s website.