Five Bedford-based charities scoop their share of £1m Movement for Good funding

Autism Bedfordshire
Autism Bedfordshire are one of the Mayor's chosen charities (photo taken before social distancing guidelines)

Five charities based in Bedford have been nominated by the public to receive donations of £1,000 each as part of the Movement for Good awards.

The awards, set up by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical, will see a total of £1million given to charities across the UK this summer. Members of the public were invited to nominate causes close to their hearts, with 500 awards of £1,000 available for donation. 

ACCM (UK), Autism Bedfordshire, Bedford Foodbank, Bedford Area Schools Christian Support Trust and Smart Criminal Justice Services are the local charities set to benefit from the money, following overwhelming public support in the county.

More than 750 kind-hearted residents voted for a total of 29 charities across the region.

In total, an amazing 253,879 people around the UK supported the Movement for Good awards, with over 13,695 charitable causes up and down the country receiving votes. The 500 winning charities were picked at random from those nominated.

Bedford-based charity, Autism Bedfordshire, is delighted to have benefited from this year’s Movement for Good awards and will be using the extra funding towards delivering online social sessions for its members.

The local charity supports hundreds of autistic children and adults across Bedfordshire. In addition to providing online sessions and resources to reduce social isolation, the charity has also been distributing sensory play kits to relieve stress and stimulate autistic children.

Gill Christmas, Funding Manager at Autism Bedfordshire, said, “While adapting to the ‘new normal’ is a challenging time for everyone, this change is extremely difficult for the people we support.

“Because autism affects the way people relate to the world, any changes in routine can be extremely hard to cope with. Thanks to the Movement for Good award, we’ve been able to continue helping the people that need us, and for that, we are extremely grateful.”

Anita McCallum, CEO of SMART CJS, said, “We are extremely excited and incredibly thankful to have been awarded £1000 as part of the Movement for Good awards.

“We intend to use the donation towards additional costs we have incurred at our hotel-based operation for the homeless and rough sleepers of Bedford. These have included protective equipment, food and staffing for the 24 hour a day, 7 day a week service we are providing.

“The funds mean that we can continue to support up to 70 individuals around the clock at the temporary hotel location and assist them with the challenges they face. We are incredibly proud to have helped 48 people move from the hotel into suitable accommodation, despite the huge challenges of working with the Covid-19 pandemic going on around us.

“We simply cannot continue our important work without wonderful initiatives like the Movement for Good awards.

“These are challenging times for us all, but seeing our supporters’ positive posts, shares and nominations on social media has given all at SMART CJS a fantastic boost. I would like to thank everyone who voted for us and Ecclesiastical for their inspiring initiative.”

Sarah McCulloch of ACCM (UK) told the Bedford Independent, “ACCM (UK) is a charity set up in 2008 to tackle health inequalities and all forms of abuse to improve and make a difference to the lives of Black Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) and other vulnerable people in Bedford and surrounding areas.

ACCM (UK) staff and trustee with essentials and food items to be delivered to users in need

“Winning the Movement for Good Award means a lot to our users who benefit from our services especially during this Covid-19 difficult times.

“This award will enable us to continue providing essential service to our users. We are very grateful to our funders, supporters and users who continue to support us.

Thanking supporters in Bedfordshire, Mark Hews, Group CEO of Ecclesiastical, said, “We have seen an overwhelming public response to our Movement for Good awards and would like to thank every single person who took the time to nominate a good cause.

“It’s clear that people care deeply about those in need in their region at what is an incredibly testing time for many, and from looking at the nomination data locally, community organisations seem to hold a particularly fond place in the hearts of residents.

“Ecclesiastical is a unique financial services group. We are owned by a charity which means all available profits can be given to the good causes that are so important to our customers.

“As a company whose purpose is to contribute to the greater good of society, charitable giving is at the heart of our business. We know that £1,000 can make a huge difference to the incredible work that charities do and we’re looking forward to seeing how this financial boost will change lives for the better.”

Later this summer, a further ten charities will also be chosen by a panel of judges to receive £50,000 from Ecclesiastical to be put towards the advancement of education, skills, arts, culture and heritage, as well as citizenship or community development.

From 15 June, charities are invited to apply for the substantial grant with applications being assessed against four key areas; impact and effectiveness, sustainability, innovation, and care and compassion.

The successful charities will be announced from Monday 21 September 2020.

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