Countryside Fund opens for grants

ORGANISATIONS helping rural communities can apply for up to £50,000 in funding from the Prince's Countryside Fund.

The charity, which strives to secure a sustainable future for the British countryside, opens for the latest round of grant applications on Monday (23 September).

The Prince's Countryside Fund is looking to invest up to £800,000 in worthwhile rural initiatives in this application round.

To date, it has given more than £3m in grants in three years to hard-pressed rural communities, directly benefiting more than 52,000 people.

The fund seeks to address and provide funding to projects and organisations tackling rural isolation, the decline of rural communities, low farming incomes and lack of access to training.

The number of people farming in Britain has declined 26% over the past twenty years and 10% of remaining farming households are returning a negative income.

It is estimated that 60,000 new entrants are needed in the farming industry in the next decade to ensure its future sustainability.

Fund director Victoria Harris said: "We are looking for organisations working on the ground every day to make a real difference to rural life, and are particularly interested in projects that will have a long term positive impact.

"The countryside is one of our greatest national assets."

Some 80% of the UK's land area being farmland, with 70% of drinking water coming from upland areas and 60% of the UK's food and drink produced domestically.

Ms Harris said: "It is crucial that we support those working tirelessly to protect and sustain this for future generations, and we look forward to welcoming applications from projects across the UK".

The Prince's Countryside Fund has supported 126 rural communities by improving service provision.

It has helped 2,346 farm businesses by funding projects that work directly with farmers to improve efficiency and 489 rural enterprises by supporting innovative rural business projects.

Some 2,022 young people by the fund supporting projects offering training opportunities, with 25,800 individuals educated in the value of the countryside.

The fund will remain open until 5pm on Thursday, 24 October. Applications received after this time will not be considered.


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