How ‘small’ grants can make a big impact for communities

How ‘small’ grants can make a big impact for communities

Andrew White, Director of Wales
Our Director of Wales marks St David’s Day by reflecting on how the wisdom of the Welsh patron saint can bring communities closer to their heritage. 

1 March is St David’s Day – a day of celebration dedicated to the patron saint of Wales. Red dragons, leeks, Welsh cakes and stove pipe hats aside, it’s always worth remembering St David’s last sermon before his death in 589AD. He said 'gwnewch y pethau bychain (do the little things)’, emphasising how small actions can make a big impact. 

This can apply to all areas of life, including our work at the Heritage Fund.  

Heritage in Wales 

We don’t define heritage. We ask you to tell us what you think is important and should be protected and preserved. Heritage can be anything from the past that you value and want to pass on to future generations. 

Since 1994, we have awarded over £420million to more than 3,000 projects in Wales.  

Some of those investments have been large, such as the £10m we awarded to Aberystwyth University’s Old College in 2020, and the £8.75m that went to the Newport Transporter Bridge restoration project in 2021. These grants will help boost the local economies of these areas and reinforce a sense of local pride.  

But, it doesn’t have to cost millions to connect people to their heritage. Small grants can make a big difference, too. 

Here are just a few examples of ‘smaller’ projects which have made a difference here in Wales.  

People shaking hands outside display for Port Talbot Harriers
Celebrating 100 years of the Port Talbot Harriers

Sporting heritage 

The Port Talbot Harriers running and multi-sport club told us its 100-year history was worth celebrating. So, last summer we awarded them £9,200 to publish a book and create an online archive of images from the club from the 1920s to today.  

Bernard Henderson, Chairman of the Port Talbot Harriers, says the archive "will continue to grow and record activity into the future". 

Natural heritage  

In Abercynon in the South Wales Valleys, the Green Valley Wellbeing group recognised the potential of a derelict patch of land. Nature, after all, is our oldest form of heritage. In December 2019 we awarded the group £10,000 to transform the site into a community garden. 

People working outside, creating a community garden
The creation of the community garden

The garden has been embraced by the community and is regularly used by autism support networks, job centres, schools and organisations that care for children with special educational needs. It helps boost visitors’ mental health and is also attracting wildlife. 

LGBTQ+ heritage 

Llanelli LGBTQ+ Support came to us in 2019 with a proposal to commemorate and preserve the heritage of the town’s LGBTQ+ community. 

We know LGBTQ+ people’s stories and experiences are often under-represented. So we awarded the group a £10,000 grant to record and share stories online, create films and host community activities. They also staged the first ever LGBTQ+ event in Llanelli as part of LGBT History Month in 2020. Our funding has helped the group publicly acknowledge Llanelli’s LGBTQ+ community and celebrate its contribution to the area’s wider heritage. 

A group of people in a community space
Llanelli LGBTQ+ Support group

Cinematic heritage 

Outside of Pembroke, people probably aren’t aware of the significant part the town played in cinematic history. It was there, in an aircraft hangar in 1979, that the first life-sized model of the Millennium Falcon – from the Oscar-winning film, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – was built. 

In January we awarded £8,000 to the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre to create a permanent Millennium Falcon exhibition. Set to open later this year, it will bring to life an important part of Pembroke Dock’s history and provide a significant boost for the economic regeneration of the West Wales town. 

Funding for your project 

So, as you can see, even organisations that have applied for our smallest range of grants have been able to create a big impact for heritage and for the people in their communities. 

If you've got an idea for a heritage project in Wales, the team and I would love to hear from you. Check what we fund and our available grants, which start at £3,000. If you need more information or advice on your idea, please get in touch

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