Strong Foundations Grant 2020: Awardees Announced


We are very excited to announce the first round of awardees for the Strong Foundations Grant.

Back at the beginning of 2020, almost 100 community groups in Manchester and Salford applied to the Sir Robert McAlpine Strong Foundations Grant. With so many high quality applications, competition was very tough. A panel of judges scored the nominations against a set of criteria including:

  • Is there a strong community need?
  • Does this project boost community wellbeing?
  • Does this project increase community cohesion?

When Coronavirus hit the UK, Semble worked with the winning community groups and Sir Robert McAlpine to make sure that the funding could still be given and the projects delivered in safe and meaningful ways.

Without further ado, here is the first round of winners of the Strong Foundations Grant 2020.

Sir Robert McAlpine Strong Foundations Grant 2020 Awardees

Image of Strong Foundations GRant awardees The Boiler House, a warehouse of women doing woodwork at workbenches

The Boiler House

The Boiler House is a new community makerspace in the heart of Moss Side where numerous workshops and courses are run to bring the community together, boost skills and employability, address social isolation, repair things, save money and reduce landfill. The team runs a repair cafe, men’s sheds and women’s sheds among other projects. They won funding to run additional workshops to reach more members of the community and to install a staircase to a new mezzanine they have created. These workshops bring people together from across the community to learn together, improve confidence, and can support long term unemployed people to get new skills.

Learn more about the Boiler House.

An image of Bridgewater Community Garden, Strong Foundations Grant awardees. They are a gorup of about 15 people standing outdoors in a green space in front of a planting bed

Bridgewater Community Garden

Bridgewater Community Garden gives a space for the local community to come together and grow fruit, herbs and vegetables. A garden like this is especially important in this area, where there are few green spaces and limited access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables. This neglected space was resurrected around a year ago by local residents, and now many local families with low incomes use the garden. Bridgewater Community Garden won funding to run an expert-led pruning day to train 12 people to restore 12 fruit trees so they can produce more fruit, as well as to build 3 planters and install a fence. This will increase their growing potential on-site and make the space safe and contained. Events to educate local families about nature also take place in the garden, alongside other community-building activities to get people to use the space, including people from many different backgrounds and ethnicities.

Learn more about Bridgewater Community Garden.

A group of volunteers with Don't Look Past standing and smiling at the camera on a street at night.

Don’t Walk Past

Don’t Walk Past is a grassroots community group dedicated to feeding homeless people and providing warm clothing and supplies. They take to the streets five nights a week in and around Manchester. They aim to reduce homelessness and its impacts by raising awareness in the local community, giving out hot food and creating strong relationships with people living on the streets locally in order to properly learn about them and meet their individual needs. However as a small, recently formed community group they have limited resources. The Strong Foundations Grant funding has allowed them to purchase more catering equipment as well as clothing and other items for cold weather.

Read more about Don’t Walk Past.

The Emmaus logo

Emmaus Salford

Emmaus Salford provides a home, voluntary work and training for 24 ‘companions’ (residents) with many complex needs, including having previously lived on the streets. They won funding from Sir Robert McAlpine to develop a project to grow soft fruit, vegetables and flowers in their garden. What they grow will be used in their kitchen and shared with Lucie’s Pantry, their social supermarket. In addition to providing them with fresh home-grown foods and attractive grounds for leisure, the project will help the residents gain practical experience leading to aspirational training, opportunities and employability. 

Learn more about Emmaus Salford.

A group of people, including a wheelchair user at the tea kiosk in Lightoaks Park

Friends of Lightoaks Park

Friends of Lightoaks Park work with the local community to plant, enhance and maintain the park. They host fortnightly volunteer days, fun days, nature walks and activities throughout the year. In 2019, they opened a garden cafe in a semi derelict building for the summer months, which proved to be a runaway success. They won funding from the Strong Foundations Grant to provide specially adapted picnic tables in the park for wheelchair users so they can sit comfortably with others and enjoy refreshments from the park’s tea kiosk. The wheelchair adapted benches will also be used for table-top activities including nature workshops, bird box making and painting. The project will allow better integration and engagement opportunities for the community, and was essential during lockdown, where more people engaged with public outdoor spaces.

Learn more about Friends of Lightoaks Park.

Image of Strong Foundations Grant Awardees Lions Barber Collective - a room of people are sat looking at two barbers, who are delivering training to them

Lions Barber Collective

Lions Barber Collective was set up to raise awareness of men’s mental health after their founder lost a friend to suicide. The main goal of the group is to train hair professionals to recognise possible mental health problems in their clients and signpost them to the appropriate local services. Lions Barber Collective won funding to deliver their BarberTalk mental health training session to 20 hair professionals around Manchester, with a widespread impact among their clients. Participants will learn to recognise the signs of poor mental health, ask direct questions, listen with empathy and signpost them to the help they need.

Learn more about Lions Baber Collective.

A woman in a wheelchair with blue hair sits on a stage with a banner behind her reading digifest 2020A Strong Foundations Grant awardee from the Manchester Histories Digifest

Manchester Histories

Manchester Histories works collaboratively with people, organisations and partners to reveal, share and celebrate Greater Manchester’s diverse heritage. Manchester Histories works throughout the year delivering projects, training, exhibitions, events and more to recognise, explore and value local histories. This year, their Manchester Histories Festival on 4-6 September was adapted to be fully digital and marked the 50th year of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. They used funding from Sir Robert McAlpine to provide a platform for 3 young disabled artists to express their voices through performance, music and creativity and raised awareness of the significance of this ground-breaking legislation by engaging with over 600 audience members. This project and more generally Manchester Histories’ work aim to increase people’s pride, knowledge and understanding of their own histories and heritage through creativity; improving community cohesion.

Learn more about Manchester Histories.


Moodswings supports people with mental health difficulties and people who are experiencing emotional distress. They aim to provide advice, information and positive support to enable individuals and families to recover and rebuild lives, as well as understand and manage their mental health symptoms. They operate a community hub and café to help bring people together and reduce social isolation. These Strong Foundations Grant awardees will use funding to improve their community café including a creating an outdoor seating area with tables and chairs as well as a gazebo for rainy days. The café is a community hub in a neighbourhood that is working to instil a stronger sense of community and is staffed by volunteers on a path towards recovery from severe and enduring mental health problems. Through the café, Moodswings aims to support its volunteers to build confidence and take a step towards entering the workplace.

Learn more about Moodswings.

Image of two people holding scripts looking at one another in an empty theatre. A directoy looks on. Image of Odd Arts, Strong Foundations Grant Awardees

Odd Arts

Odd Arts uses theatre to challenge the way people see themselves and the world, working with over 25,000 people each year within the criminal justice, education and community networks. They won funding from the Strong Foundations Grant to deliver a community-led theatre performance and workshop to reduce the risk of knife crime. This involves working with young people with experiences of knife crime to develop a theatre performance exploring the root causes and journey leading to serious violence within the community between young adults and teenagers.  The workshop addresses the myths, misconceptions, stereotypes and facts around knife crime. Participants then watch the performance and are given a chance to replay certain scenes to try out alternative strategies of early intervention.  The performance and workshop is reaching 1000s of young people in Central Manchester.

Learn more about Odd Arts.

Image of an overgrown garden in an urban space. Image from The Potters, Strong Soundations Grant awardees

The Potters

The Potters is based in the community garden space of the popular St Clements Community Centre in Ordsall and aims to increase community connection and improve individual and community wellbeing across cultures. Funding from Sir Robert McAlpine will be used to relay paths around the space so that it is accessible to everyone and clear some wasteland to create a community orchard. These improvements will attract more people to the gardens so that they are more widely used by the community and there is more integration between new and more established residents.

Learn more about The Potters.

Image of 2 Black teenagers, one is playing the drums, with the other watches from behind. Image from Strong Foundations Grant Awardees Sebene


Sebene’s mission is to prevent knife crime and gang violence by empowering and educating young Black boys around their identity, mental health, wellbeing and cultural heritage. Sebene aims to instill a positive perception of community through discussion within a safe place through culture and music, offering a different narrative to negative perceptions of being a young Black person. These Strong Foundations Grant awardees will use funds on their music programme, enabling the group to purchase music equipment. Learning and playing music together will give young people something positive to do and offer a creative outlet. Additionally, this will encourage and develop confidence, self-esteem, peer interaction, communication and teamwork.

Learn more about Sebene.

A group of cooks in the kitchen at the Tatton, a Strong Foundations Grant awardees

The Tatton

The Tatton is a community group that aims to build a cohesive and active community for the deprived community of Ordsall. They run a community café offering low-cost nutritious meals whilst welcoming people to develop friendships and reduce social isolation in a safe environment. The Tatton is a lifeline for many people in the area who suffer from mental health issues, and they also host other community groups and events. They hold weekly sessions to reduce isolation among men and lunches for people in the local shelter accommodation. The Strong Foundations Grant funding was used to cover staff costs and marketing to boost their income from selling meals, ensuring that they get in a better position and become financially sustainable.

Learn more about The Tatton.

We are very grateful to be working with these amazing Strong Foundations Grant Awardees, and we look forward to being able to share more stories from the campaign!

Want to learn about more projects looking at Equal Rights and Social Cohesion?

Want to learn about more projects looking at Health and Wellbeing?

About the Author:

Keen to make the world a kinder place, Josie supports the campaigns and community teams at Semble to help bring people together. She has worked with migrants, taught sex education and is a lover of all things Latin America. Her interests include food, reading, and dreaming of being a beekeeper.