FIVE Wyre Forest good causes will be battling it out for votes and cash in the Shuttle's Community Chest initiative this month.
The newspaper has teamed up with housebuilder Taylor Wimpey to offer a £500 windfall to help groups continue their good work, and Shuttle readers have responded magnificently to our appeal for nominations.
More than 33 nominations were made for groups who carry out important work in their local communities and a shortlist of five has been compiled.
They are Bewdley Knit & Natter, Community Transport Helpline, New Horizons Youth Arts Group, Walshes Community Centre, and Friends of Oldington & Foley Park.
Editor Clive Joyce said: "All of the groups were worthy of nomination for the valuable work they do in our area and they are justifiably proud of their efforts.
"It was a tough job reducing the number to a shortlist of five and in the end we plumped for organisations for whom £500 will make a real difference."
He added: "We now want our thousands of print and online readers to vote for their favourite good cause in a special poll on the Shuttle website and the winner will receive the £500 to help them with their work."
Elaine Taylor, sales and marketing director for Taylor Wimpey West Midlands, which is currently building high-quality new homes at its Stour Valley development in Stourport Road, Kidderminster, said: "We have been delighted with the response to our initiative and it’s pleasing to see so many great causes nominated by readers.
“The Community Chest is a great way to recognise the unsung heroes of your neighbourhood, and I’d urge readers to cast their vote to ensure their favourite organisation is in with a chance of scooping the £500 prize.”
The poll starts tomorrow (Friday February 14) and runs until February 28). Read more about the five nominated causes and then cast your vote on this website.
BEWDLEY KNIT & NATTER: This group of 30 women enjoy knitting and have come together at All Saints church, Bewdley to knit items for charity.
It was set up by a Gail Lawrence, who was already knitting blankets and cardigans for Royal Worcestershire Hospital premature baby unit and wanted to create a group that benefited both the members and the local community.
In the last 18 months the group has knitted over 300 items for the baby unit, 600 Easter chickens which were sold in aid of Cancer UK, 150 poppies for the Royal British Legion and items for a homeless shelter in Worcester and the Samaritans Purse shoebox appeal.
All members donate their time to knitting for charity but the group has to rely largely on donations to purchase the wool needed and have also held several sales at the church to raise funds.
COMMUNITY TRANSPORT HELPLINE: This organisation has more than 60 drivers doing an invaluable job in getting people unable to use public transport or without their own transport in the Wyre Forest area and North West Worcestershire to doctors, hospitals, dentists, and the shops etc.
It takes people to hospitals in the county and Birmingham and Wolverhampton and because it waits whilst patients are being treated, it takes away any worry passengers may have about getting back home.
In addition there are two vehicles capable of carrying wheelchairs and these passengers would be totally stranded without CTH help.
Passengers constantly tell drivers how much they are appreciated. Any funding received is appreciated especially as bus services are under constant pressure and voluntary organisations such as CTH are being encouraged to do what they can to replace lost services.
NEW HORIZONS YOUTH ARTS GROUP: This is a drama group for young people in their teens and 20s who have varying degrees of learning difficulty. Sheer happiness reverberates from the stage as these young people put their hearts and souls into putting on their annual performances at The Rose Theatre.
It gives them opportunities to show what they can do when enough time and trouble is invested in the right support. Carers say that the young people not only love doing the shows, but also get great enjoyment in the weekly classes and rehearsals that lead up to this big event in their lives.
Most of the helpers give their time freely but costs are incurred and funds are running low. It would leave such a void in the lives of these young men and women if this group had to cease.
Anyone who has attended performances will testify to the joy and pride these young people feel when they are given the opportunity to show what they are capable of doing. Everyone needs this chance in life.
WALSHES COMMUNITY HALL: This is community-led group works to keep the hall open for community use. The facility is at the centre of the Walshes community and it is home to several important groups/services including over-60s' bingo and friendship clubs, youth club, ‘Your Place’ community health hub, Brownies and dance classes.
The hall is also used by local bands to practice, fund-raising events for local charities, community events and children’s parties. If the hall were to close there is no other community venue where all of this could take place.
The group is working with landlords Wyre Forest Community Housing which provides funding for the core running costs, and the Wyre Forest Clinical Commissioning Group, which has provided some funding.
The group is trying to raise funds to improve the building. Members are currently fund-raising to replace a damaged floor and fit new toilet facilities.
FRIENDS OF OLDINGTON & FOLEY PARK: This club, based at the community centre on the Rifle Range estate in Kidderminster, is run entirely by volunteers. It is open all day on Wednesdays and is run by a handful of volunteers. Morning activities include a book club and refreshments and people can obtain advice on a variety of issues or be referred on to other sources.
There is a keep-fit class in the afternoon, which ranges from seated to aerobic exercise which is fun and promotes confidence, encouraging people to take responsibility for their own well-being.
The club would like to operate on additional days to expand the activities so there is something for all age ranges. It is hoped this would generate a real energy and community spirit.
Any money received would be spent on new kitchen equipment plus basic equipment for the keep-fit class.