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The Aviva Community Fund: Voting opens soon

Submissions to the Aviva Community Fund have closed. You can vote for your favourite cause from 9am on 24 October. To know more about submitting a project in 2018 register your details.

Any thing can mean everything

All over the country, local community projects are using ordinary objects to do extraordinary things. From a gardening trowel to a football, any thing can mean everything when it comes to improving local lives through a community project.

And that’s what the Aviva Community Fund is all about – helping communities make a big difference through small changes. And with funding up for grabs again, now’s the time to start thinking about what could mean the world to your community.

How the competition works

Whether you’re looking to solve a problem or speed up an ongoing project, this is your chance to make a real difference to your local community. And it all starts with your great idea…

Put your thinking cap on

What project does your organisation need financial support for that will make a positive impact in your community?

Enter your project

Fill in our short entry form. There are four categories you can enter, and four levels of funding to choose from.

Rally your supporters

Promote your project to as many friends, family members and neighbours as possible to get their votes.

Fingers crossed…

The projects with the most votes will become finalists and judged before the winners are announced.

Let our experts help you create a compelling entry

You need to get as many votes as possible to make it through to the finals, so it’s important to make your project entry stand out.

Our experts, Heidi Greensmith and Nina Ahmed, can help you craft a great story and bring it to life with brilliant photography. A master film storyteller, writer and director, Heidi shows you how to make a short film using your smartphone. As a journalist and wordsmith, Nina shares top tips on how to tell a compelling story to make your entry shine.

We’ve also created a helpful video which takes you step-by-step through the submission process.

  • Heidi Greensmith
  • Nina Ahmad

Look out for more ACF team members coming soon, to help you with promoting your projects once voting is live.

Watch these videos to help you bring your project to life.

Heidi Greensmith – how to create a video entry

Video transcript

Telling your story through film

Hello, I’m Heidi Greensmith. I’m a writer and director. I make documentaries, music videos, commercials and I’ve just made my first feature film. I’m here today as part of the Aviva Community Fund Team to share with you my top tips on how you can bring your entry to life by using your smartphone to take photographs and to make a short film.

First of all, here’s how you can take a great photograph for your entry:

  1. So you need to try and hold your smart phone straight and make sure if you can that your subject is in the centre of the frame. Also, don’t get too close or too far away.
  2. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to put in your photograph and you’ve aimed at your subject, you need to wait for a moment for your camera to settle down and your automatic focus to find the subject. This will ensure you get a very clear picture.
  3. If you’re feeling a bit more technical, you can make some simple edits to your photograph once you’ve taken it, using contrast, colour, saturation and things like that. You can find them all in your camera editing tools.

Film is another great way to bring your project to life. Making a short film is easy. Here are a few points to help you along the way:

  1. Think carefully about what you choose to shoot. Make sure you’re telling something interesting and if you’re asking a subject questions, encourage them not to answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  2. Smartphones have brilliant recording capabilities for your sound these days, but you do need to make sure that the room that you’re filming in is quite quiet.
  3. And if you’re outside, do make sure its not windy.
  4. Don’t think you have to spend ages editing your film, a series of clips is just as effective at telling your story as a short film.

So that’s it from me. Have fun, good luck and I’ll be looking out for your films.

Nina Ahmed – how to write a compelling entry

Video transcript

How to write a compelling entry

Hello I’m Nina Ahmad and I’m a freelance writer, and I’ve worked as an editor and a journalist across a range of national magazines and newspapers for the past two decades.

I’m working with the Aviva Community Fund to share some tips on how to write a compelling entry. I hope this advice will enable you to share your story and get across the passion and enthusiasm you feel for your charity or community project, while not forgetting the fundamental point of why you need this funding and how it will benefit your cause.

Here’s my advice on how to write an entry that will hopefully make you stand out:

  1. Make a start on your entry by determining your focus. To do this, ask yourself three questions: Why does your project need funding? Why does it specifically need funding now? And why does it need this level of support? Structure your answer around these questions and that way you’ll give as much information to the reader as possible to enable them to make an informed decision about who to vote for.
  2. As well as the facts, you’ll want to get across the energy, passion and enthusiasm you feel about your community project or charity. You can do this by using personal stories and anecdotes. Include the story behind your charity and stories of people that it has helped. This is your chance to really paint a picture for the reader so that they can empathise with you and really understand what this project means to you and the benefits that funding will give.
  3. Try to convey the facts clearly and accurately. Avoid using long paragraphs that are loaded with information. Try to be as concise as possible. Using short sentences will help you with this. The more you condense your information, the easier it is for a reader to take in all the information.
  4. Trust your instincts and be bold about asking for funding. Share the impact of the results. The more the reader can see tangible results, the more it will help you garner support.
  5. Finally, make the most of this experience. Writing a clear and focused entry will always help. Whatever the outcome, you can always use it for future PR and to help recruit members and volunteers.

I hope these tips have helped because funding opportunities are really important. Good luck with your entry and I look forward to reading lots of them in the coming weeks.

One-line descriptor

Watch as Aviva Community Fund Team member, Nina Ahmad, gives her top tips on how to write a compelling entry.

How to submit your project – a step-by-step guide

Video transcript

How to submit your project – a step-by-step guide

Entering a project into the Aviva Community Fund is straightforward. We’ve put this short film together to show you what you will need to do and help you make sure you have everything you need before you start. If you have any queries about submitting a project you can call our helpline on 0151 284 1018, which is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or email avivacommunityfund@charitiestrust.org.

You’ll need to login or register if you’ve not used the system before to be able to be able to submit your project. To be able to submit your project you can do this in three easy steps, first fill in your details on the registration form, you’ll be sent an activation email to the address you provided. Then lick on the link in this email to activate your account, you’ll then be asked a couple of final pieces of information and then you can get started. Alternatively, if you have a facebook account you can register using your facebook credentials.

Please take some time to read the important information at the top of the submission form.

You can also check out our top tips on how to tell a compelling story to make your entry shine at Aviva.co.uk/community-fund.

In Step 1 we ask you details about yourself as the project submitter.

We ask for this information because if you are a current Aviva customer or an Aviva employee, and the project you have entered doesn’t win an Award (including an Additional Award), the project you have entered will be eligible for a £200 payment. For more details click on the question mark.

If you are under 18 (so select No on the form) we will need to contact the organisation to confirm their support for this submission.

If you are not directly involved with organisation that runs this project (so select No on the form) we will need you to provide details of a person who is directly involved in the organisation.

In Step 2 we ask details about the organisation that delivers the project, this can be your contact details if you are directly involved or someone else at the organisation.

You can save the application form anytime and come back to it at a later date. To go back to a saved entry, go to the My Projects tab at the top of the page and click on the project name.

In step 3 we give you a choice of who we should contact about your project – this can be just you as the project submitter or you and the organisation. This means you can choose to let Aviva keep the organisation up-to-date directly.

In Step 4 you choose your funding level and category, and tell us about the project itself.

Please bear in mind when writing the project description that this is what the general public will see so this is where you promote what you are planning to do to get your votes. If you have submitted a project in previous years you can copy and paste your information from previous projects, under the My Projects tab.

Please be aware that the box has a 4000 character limit that’s approximately 600 words.

A handy tip would be to write your copy in a word doc first then copy and paste into the form box.

Please be aware that the email and website address provided here, will be available to public view.

When entering the location of your project please provide the exact location including house number and street, then select your town or city from the drop down below.

Uploading photos is easy, you can select up to 5 images to make your project more distinctive. The fist image shown will be the main image for your project. You can use the resizing tool to make sure your photos show properly on the site, using the instructions on the screen. If you don’t have any images you can select from our stock images provided.

Sign in to YouTube. If you don’t have a YouTube account you can easily set one up following this link. Click the Upload button at the top of the page. Before you start uploading the video, you can choose the video privacy settings. You will need to select “Public” from the privacy settings for Aviva to be able to display them on the site. Select the video you'd like to upload from your computer or smartphone. As the video is uploading, you can edit both the basic information and the advanced settings of the video, and decide if you want to notify subscribers. Click Publish to finish uploading a public video to YouTube. If you haven’t clicked Publish, other people won't be able to view your video. You can always publish your video at a later time in your Video Manager.

Then all you have to do is copy and paste the youtube video link into the submission form.

Finally you will get to see a preview of your project page – this is how your page will look to the general public when we enter the voting phase. Make sure you’re happy with all the elements before submitting for approval as you can’t make any changes after this point.

Once you’ve submitted your project keep a note of your project reference number as shown on the screen, this should be used for all correspondence with Aviva.

Need more inspiration to get involved?

Carnkie

Video transcript

*Background singing – Morning has broken*

The children of Carnkie are now adults, and they realise that their home is not the same for their children, as it was for them.

They could go to the shop, go to the school, go to the church. All those buildings have gone now.

All we have left is our village hall.

My name is Therese Jones, people call me Terrie. I’m one of the really lucky people that get the use of this marvellous building. So, on Sunday this is a church, on Saturday it’s the breakfast room. Every day of the week people are in here, every evening, playing badminton, doing Morris dancing, doing *taps on floor* doing clog dancing. It’s a very busy room, and I wish the walls could talk because they’d probably tell you, more than I.

So, Carnkie I suppose it’s not terribly accessible, the people here can be quite isolated. Over the years we’ve lost a shop, we’ve lost the pubs, so the film nights that we do it’s just bringing people together.

The hall, is really the centre, where everybody sits down and they greet each other with hugs and kisses and they have long conversations, they don’t have the opportunity to have those conversations anywhere else. There you are, I think one of those is the winning one, thank you so much!

I would come no matter what film, if it was a film I’d seen 20 times, I would still come.

Come on Maureen, sort it out old girl.

It’s a community, you’re socialising, evening if I’m only making tea.

Good evening everybody, thank you for coming. Enjoy the film! Lights please, and, have a good evening!

*clapping*

They’ve all been on the committee for years and years most of them, they all know what they’re doing, they are brilliant.

I do my best, and I will do my best probably when I’ve got me Zimmer frame.

I don’t have any children of my own...

And can you read out the number for us, really loudly! …But it makes me part of a community…

William says 396

…I borrow other people’s children, and we’re all one family. That’s what it does for me!

Urban buzz

Video transcript

Going back over ten years, Ley Hill estate’s had a bit of a reputation and the park was considered a bit of a no-go area. Regular fly-tipping and rubbish on the side. Drugs, a lot of vandalism and a lot of people were quite scared to come in the park. Local residents decided they wanted to play an active role and sort of take back the park, and formed a friends group. You know, local people give up their time, work together, to do positive works in the park.

This is what we want to encourage, lovely plant here a purple loosestrife. Here’s one, the bee’s obviously loving it and butterflies.

So, what we’ve done with Urban Buzz is, we selected out groups that are active within their local open space, and what we’re doing is giving people that understanding about the importance of pollinators.

All animals at every level, depend on these creatures including us.

Perfect, we got a white butterfly.

So we’re getting a different range of species in. You know, we’re just starting to realise how vitally important it is to protect and cherish these areas.

Local people have been getting involved because they, they care about their local open space.

And that’s been the gem with the project, it’s been a project about wildlife, but it’s really been the people and the community groups that have helped to make it what it is.

I think the main thing is it’s great to feel as though you’re, you’re making a difference really.

Ooh, we’ve got some hoverflies flies mating here. They’re the voice of a lot of the pollinating insects and the flowers, the trees and without the community having the voice for these areas there’s a chance a lot of it could be lost.

We like trees, we’re not tree haters, but it’s trees in the right spot.

We’re getting there, we’re starting to make real positive change and this park, is a good example. That positivity is fed down to the community and made a real change, a real difference. And hopefully continue for many years to come.

Farsley Girls

Video transcript

*background conversation*

Look at that… oh very… look at that. Watch Gina. Look at that. Very proper Gina’s got a royal lunge.

I love seeing children smile and be happy, that’s why I… er… I’m involved with football. I love to see a child go from being a little bit self-conscious and a little bit self-aware to just feeling full of joy and happiness and that’s… that’s hand on heart why I do it.

Push, push, push, push. That’s it. Good running, good running.

It’s not just about football, and when I first got involved I initially thought it was. But what actually happens is friendship, sisterhood, a bonding of these young innocent children, a sense of togetherness that goes really beyond football.

It’s about relationships that will get them through the rest of their lives. It’s about trusting in other people, trusting in your peers. And it’s an absolute joy to watch.

Some of these little girls, I’ve seen them personally come with no confidence whatsoever.

I’ve always had friends at football but at school I’ve only got like a couple of friends.

Unfortunately, she had a personal tragedy at five years old which really knocked her confidence. She used to cry in the night and say she doesn’t know how to make friends. She’d like to do it but she doesn’t know how. She doesn’t understand why she is different. So, we started her up with football and instantly her confidence just picked up. They all just build each other up and the only thing she wants to do is play football.

It’s all about fun at this age, but what that’s brought out in the girls is just this self-confidence, this self-belief.

*cheering*

They’ve developed so much it’s unbelievable. I mean these were girls that could literally not kick a football.

We were absolutely rubbish at the beginning, but we got better. We got better right?

We are friends. We all work together. Even if we win or lose we’re still friends and we’re still happy, and that makes us a good team.

Who are we?! Farsley!

Have we got some talent? Yeah. We, really have. We really have got some talent.

So, do I believe any of my little girls can make it? Damn right I do. Yeah, definitely.

Voice of a child

Video transcript

*background conversation*

I first came to the Puppet Theatre as a child, with my school, and I loved it and it was magic.

You can do it any colour. I’m going to do my one pink because I love pink.

And so, I kind of got into working here because of the amazing experience that it gave to me.

Puppets are great. They provide a non-confrontational way of people being able to exchange information and it might be something a child doesn’t want to say themself and the puppet they’re working with can explain their emotions.

Then stick it on. There we go. You got your own monster.

The puppets don’t judge you and you don’t judge the puppets. They just play together and explore ideas and also nobody really gets hurt.

Yeah, you do the monster.

The idea was that the Puppet Theatre could help us use puppets as a way of communication, as a tool of communication.

Puppets can take away that very direct and quite intimidating time that you can have with a child, when you’re desperately trying to sort of understand the world from that child’s perspective.

The great thing about this project is seeing them develop over that time has been really special for our workshop leaders. They’ve seen children who wouldn’t talk engage in conversations.

Wooooo! *laughter*

That for me is the reason I do my job. To know that I’ve even played a small part in providing a space or an opportunity for that to be able to happen just fills me with so much joy.

You know we’re always learning, we’re always on that journey, but for me it’s where we get that support from the community and the people of Norwich and the Puppet Theatre. That’s what’ll make the difference for us.

FEAST!

Video transcript

Every week we collect surplus food from supermarkets or other retailers. We take that food from the supermarket and we bring it to homeless shelters.

We cook a community meal together, as equals, there’s no fancy service from the front its, everyone together.

I’m Hannah, I set up FEAST! In June 2015 when I moved into the area. I could see that there was a need, that there were people who needed food and didn’t have ready access to it and that there was lots of food being thrown away on a regular basis.

Its mad to think that this much food, every day, from every supermarket is just literally getting tossed in the bin.

We have a buzzing team of volunteers and todays special volunteer is Danny Care.

I can’t remember the last time I peeled a potato but, its all coming flooding back to me here.

My upbringing was very much waste not want not, be grateful for the things you have, repurpose everything. Can you take this misshapen mushy pepper or carrot and use it for something?

Oh god, my eyes. No no that’s fine… yeah go on then.

So we’re here to see what FEAST! are getting up to and their work in the community. Puts everything in perspective massively for me, little things like not throwing away food that you would do clearing out your kitchen. I’m certainly going to think twice about what I can do with food.

Tastes good.

So the aim of the project really is to prevent malnutrition, prevent waste and to encourage community cohesion.

What do you think it means to the residents to have this sort of meal cooked for them?

When your life gets very difficult, taking care of yourself becomes even more of a chore than it is, than it is otherwise. And I think having people care enough to come and make this food for them, it’s a bit of a spiritual lift.

Friendship..

Yeah exactly.

And someone to talk to…

Exactly and its, and its creating a community connection which is, rare nowadays actually I think.

I love volunteering for FEAST! I come here every Thursday and FEAST! brings a lot of motion, a lot of chaos and a lot of fun to the residents.

Lets just give a big thank you to all these amazing volunteers. Thank you so much.

I’m genuinely blown away by coming and visiting FEAST! Hannah’s passion for her idea and her, her vision of what she wanted to do is, is amazing. For me it just shows how impactful the Aviva Community Fund can be. You’ve seen what a massive thing it can do and the whole group come together for, for a great thing for the community.

Its really socially enabling. So there’s a lot of great things and this is just the beginning.