A Stoke-on-Trent community group is celebrating after getting funding to continue and grow its work in the Etruria and Shelton areas.
Article by Adam Gratton
With a focus on improving social aspiration in their local area – Etruria Matters, set up in 2019 by Matt Crompton (main image) and three of his friends – has been awarded almost £4,000 by the Shelton Speaks community funding initiative, to improve the lives of residents and the area they live in.
Having lived in Etruria for 20 years after arriving as a student Matt, and his friends, came up with the idea for a local community group following his own interest into what was going on in the area he lived.
Beginning by contacting the Shelton and Etruria resident’s association, Matt, said: “No one was looking into all aspects of life and the issues affecting Etruria and Shelton. We began working with the council who supported us but is was a case of starting from the ground up in bringing Etruria Matters to life.”
Unfortunately for Matt just as the group was taking off the COVID 19 pandemic struck. Restrictions caused by lockdown meant the operation needed to re-think what their priorities with the community were – and according to Matt that was helping the most vulnerable: “We knew once COVID hit that helping those most in need was where we needed to focus. We
began sending hot food to elderly residents, food boxes, doing pharmacy runs and shopping to support them. With the support of Vast, the S-o-T Together campaign and local Co-Op we were able to achieve this.”
It has been the last few months however that the community group has began to see their operation snowball, and with the investment from the Shelton Speaks funding it means Matt and the team at Etruria Matters can finally set about achieving their original goals of raising aspirations and changing the narrative of Etruria and Shelton.
“It’s been fantastic to receive this funding, we initially were invited to talk about the area at a community event in Shelton and that’s where we found out about Shelton Speaks and the funding,” says Matt.
“The money will enable us to properly set up Etruria Matters as a community group. We want to focus on several issues, one of which is engaging with young people in the area to get them involved in green space projects to not only improve the look and feel of Etruria and Shelton but to instil a sense of pride and social aspiration which will hopefully support in tackling anti-social behaviour.
“We’re also working with another organisation called Urban Wilderness to host free kids events which we are now, thanks to the funding, hoping to expand on in providing holiday based activities in the surrounding green spaces in the area.
“The area has had its problems over the years and now we just want to change the negative perception people may have of Etruria and Shelton and grow a positive narrative from the work we’re doing by supporting residents and young people who live here to take ownership of their community and feel good about where they live.”
Matt adds: “The community groups current success is just the beginning with plans of linking up with others including local environmental groups to further the work Etruria Matters is already doing in changing the lives of those living in Etruria and Shelton.”
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