Ashley Green lacked a outdoor community hub that could cater for all its residents and was in need of a facility to allow the community to meet and overcome social isolation.
Ashley Green is a small community near Chesham, Bucks which did not have an outdoor community space, leading to some residents becoming socially isolated.
To tackle this, Chiltern District Council awarded the Ashley Green Parish Council a grant of £32,000 (on a matched basis) to transform the old derelict children’s playground attached to the Memorial Hall, into a playground and a local wellbeing facility which would provide a new space for exercise and play facilities for all ages.
The village reached out for volunteers to sit on a playground committee to plan and implement the project. At the first meeting the scope of the project was significantly expanded to include a fully accessible children’s adventure playground, coffee shop/café, and a large terrace creating a much-needed community hub. A guestimate of £150,000 was agreed and the playground committee started to explore fundraising channels available to them.
The key to success was to involve the entire community from inception. Proposed by the Ashley Green Parish Council and supported by the Ashley Green and District Community Association, the playground team set up a GoFundMe page and ran a number of fundraising activities including: a fitness challenge undertaken by 26 villagers to complete a virtual walk/run/cycle to Brazil where the coffee beans for the kiosk are grown; a socially distanced Community Easter Egg hunt over Easter 2021 which raised over £2,000; and extensive promotion of the GoFundMe page which has been supported by the vast majority of villagers.
As a result, 50% of the physical playground equipment has been personally sponsored, either in memory of loved ones or in anticipation of years of use for children and grandchildren.
As part of its efforts looking for sponsorship and external support, the committee asked Community Impact Bucks for advice on all aspects of the project. Tailored expert advice was available through Ashley Green Community Association’s subscription to the Community Buildings Service. Following the meeting, Frankie, who heads up Community Impact Bucks’ Community Buildings Service, sent guides on how to write a fundraising application and a comprehensive Bucks Funding Search funding report which provided details of suitable funding opportunities for the playground committee to explore. From this, the committee successfully secured two grants – Arnold Clark and Heart of Bucks – and are currently (Jan 2022) at full application stage with the National Lottery Community Fund for a grant to refurbish the Memorial Hall to compliment the new development.
The playground committee raised the required £150,000 primarily through the support of the village and various grants; much of the labour was provided free or at cost by villagers who volunteered to undertake unskilled work, clearing vegetation, and moving materials to save on costs. They also sought and received donations from local companies, which took pressure off the budget, and enabled them to raise what they needed to cover the development of the playground, the wellbeing facility, and the coffee shop.
Having opened in October 2021, it has exceeded expectations and is extremely popular with children and adults from the village and the surrounding area:
“Nothing brings more joy than seeing children enjoying themselves and I become a little emotional every time I visit. Prior to the playground you rarely saw children in the village, now they are here in large numbers every day. The café operator has been told on many occasions ‘what a lovely village you have here, we wish we could live here’. I cannot express how much this has lifted the spirit of the whole community.” Rob Youngs, chair of Ashley Green and District Community Association and member of the Ashley Green Playground Committee.
- Ashley Green Community Association, which maintains the Memorial Hall is a subscriber of the Community Impact Bucks Community Buildings Service. Tailored advice was given to the Community Association as part of this service.
- For more information on the Ashley Green Playground, visit the Ashley Green Community Association website
- For more information on how Community Impact Bucks helps the county’s community buildings and village halls, go to our Community Buildings page.
- If you would like to speak to someone about your community building/ village hall, please email Frankie on firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated on October 17, 2023Back