Whitley Bay Big Local has a Small Sparks initiative to support people within the Big Local area to get community ideas off the ground.
Small Sparks enables local people to apply for the initial funding that they need to support ideas which will bring members of the community together and make the area a better place to live, work and visit.
Grants of up to £250 are available which need to be matched by the recipient with time or donated materials. Small Sparks has already helped a range of innovative community focused ideas to get going, including Little Libraries, Whitley Bay themed pinball machines, singing groups and bird boxes. Download an application form and apply now.
Whitley Bay's Brightest Sparks
Sheila Wilson, a volunteer with WBBL knows the power singing has in bringing people together. Sheila also knows that a formal choir might be too scary for some people to join. Sheila applied for a Small Spark and set up Whitley Warblers - a relaxed sing-a-long group where local people can get together and "sing for the fun of it".
Bay Uke is a community lead ukulele group based in Whitley Bay. They formed in 2014 after playing in the first Whitley Bay Big Local Carnival. Since then, they meet up and rehearse every Tuesday night at Jam Jar Cinema and are happy to play at local community events.
Little Free Libraries
A quirky form of borrowing books has come to Whitley Bay. The Little Free Libraries project involves boxes that are free to use and dotted around the town. The boxes are decorated by members of the community who have put hard work into making them appealing and eye catching. residents can take these books to local areas or homes and after reading, return them to the same place or any other Little Free Library. Anyone can get involved by donating or lending books.
The Clarence and Waterford Crescent Resident's Association applied for a Small Spark to enable them to create a Storyteller's Chair in the Station Master's Garden. The Small Spark grant helped them to secure other funding to make the building of the chair a reality. The chair was used as part of the Tale Spinning event and is now a permanent feature used by the local community and schools.
Pies and Peas' of Poetry
Sharon Boga, a Big Local newcomer at the time, wanted to share her poetry/songwriting skills with other residents of the WBBL area as a way of an introduction. She also wanted to encourage support of the Cornerstone Cafe, a social enterprise themselves who make the best homes pies and brownies ever! At the same time she was keen to get the local community get all mushy writing a sonnet or two.
Bounce Back to the Bay
To encourage people to keep returning to our beautiful Bay, a local young resident & friends used their £250 award to help a local primary school to get prepared for the next school year. They also visited a local retirement home and spent time talking and playing board games with the residents. They grand finale was a family fun day to raise funds for NECCER (North Of England Children's Cancer Research)
Local young people visited two care homes in the WBBL area to spend time with residents, chatting and having a little dance. They then topped it off with a Mad Hatter's tea party, receiving over £150 worth of free food and managed to raise over £400. They had live music from local acts and even performed some of the songs themselves.
Life's Gay @ Whitley Bay
A Small Sparks award supported the launch of Life's Gay @ Whitley Bay at this year's Carnival. Now a growing Facebook network is developing. This is a virtual group for those in the gay community who live in or around Whitley Bay, to create events, social occasions and networks. "We don't see it being about selling or advertising goods or any kind of dating agency but more about groups creating contacts and creative events in and around Whitley Bay".
Leading the Bay
Teenage resident and their friends used their Small Sparks Award to improve Whitley Bay beach by doing a litter pick, and at the same time, raise as much money as possible for two chosen charities; Guide Dogs For The Blind & TOMA - a local children's charity. In total, the group raised over £1,400 and the charities were over the moon!