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Over £20,000 awarded to local groups in first round of Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme 

Pots of seedlings
One of the successful projects will grow native Sussex wildflowers to help restore and improve the chalk grassland of the South Downs. | © Catriona Darroch

Thanks to the National Trust and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, grants totalling £21,828 have been awarded to six successful groups in the first round of applications, with awards varying from £1,000 to £5,000.

Grants to benefit local communities and local environment

The first successful applicants for the Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme have been given the green light to deliver projects which will benefit the people and places in their local areas and support the Changing Chalk partnership’s overall vision of creating a sustainable future for the eastern South Downs. The projects selected this round include nature and habitat conservation, programmes to connect people with the countryside, and wellbeing in nature initiatives to empower and improve mental and physical health.

Congratulations to our worthy grantees

The Grow Project

The Wellbeing in West Sussex project will provide an eight-week programme for residents in the Shoreham and Adur area who are struggling with poor mental health. They will be offering activities to connect people with nature and the rare chalk grassland habitat of the South Downs, including guided nature walks, meditation and mindfulness in nature.

The Wildflower Conservation Society (Brighton and beyond)

The Wildflower Conservation Group will be using their grant to purchase tools and equipment and recruit more volunteers. This will increase their capacity for growing native Sussex wildflowers to help restore and improve the chalk grassland of the South Downs.

The Network of International Women for Brighton and Hove

This group will run therapeutic activity sessions in nature giving women from all backgrounds, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, space to draw on the benefits of being outdoors: building confidence, becoming more active, and improving physical and mental wellbeing.

Albion Life

Albion Life will be using their grant to buy tools and equipment so volunteers can create and maintain chalk grassland wildflower habitats for bees, butterflies and other insects in their local community.

Marlborough Productions

The Radical Rhizomes project will develop practical support for members of the local QTIPOC (queer, trans and intersex people of colour) communities through a range of wellbeing and nature connection activities in the South Downs.

Wildwood Heritage

Through its Tracing the Lost Voices of Beachy Head project, Wildwood Heritage will celebrate Beachy Head’s heritage as an international communications hub. The group will survey, record and map the archaeology and history of the area to explore and share how these communications over the ages impacted the communities who lived on the Downs.

I am delighted that the Changing Chalk Partnership, led by the National Trust, can support these wonderful community-led initiatives. Linking our urban communities to the natural beauty, heritage and history of the South Downs is a very important goal and something that the Trust and its partners are passionate about. I hope that the Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme will, over the years, allow more people to appreciate, enjoy and, moreover, help to protect the amazing countryside that is right outside our doors here in Sussex.

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Saddlescombe Farm viewed from Newtimber Hill, West Sussex
The Downs have inspired community groups to take action for nature and for welbeing | © James Dobson

What is the Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme?

The Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme supports local, community-led initiatives. It awards funding to groups who want to make a difference in the local area and support Changing Chalk’s overall vision of creating a sustainable future for the eastern South Downs.

Projects funded under the scheme will deliver activities within the Changing Chalk project area and support delivery of the partnership’s objectives under three themes: Restoring Chalkland Biodiversity; Connecting Downs and Towns; and Hearts and Histories of the Downs. In total, the scheme aims to award £150,000 over three years.

Interested in applying for the next funding round?

The next funding round opens for applications in early autumn. There will be grants of up to £5,000 available for community projects and up to £10,000 for priority chalk grassland projects. Expressions of interest for habitat projects between £5,000 and £10,000 are welcomed at any stage.

For more information about the Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme visit Community Grant Scheme | Sussex | National Trust.

It’s fantastic to see the first community grants awarded – they help communities across the South Downs to connect with the nature on their doorsteps. Projects like these highlight the importance of organisations coming together to make a real difference, sharing a common goal to protect our natural heritage, and saving it for everyone’s future.  At the Heritage Fund, we are committed to helping support nature’s recovery and are proud to be working with the National Trust along with the wider partnership team on this project.”

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Tools hanging in a shed
The Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme will help groups invest in tools for nature projects | © Andrew Butler
Volunteers working on the white horse at Litlington

Volunteering with Changing Chalk 

Find out how you can get involved with the many Changing Chalk projects and help create a sustainable future for the eastern South Downs.

A father and daughter looking at a butterfly

Changing Chalk events and activities 

There are regular Changing Chalk activities to get involved with, including archaeological digs, nature walks, heritage events and history talks. Some are regular events and others, like the summer festivals, are one-off. But whatever the season, there's always plenty to do to enjoy and celebrate the chalk grasslands of the eastern South Downs.

Volunteers clear the scrub saplings on Southwick Hill

All in a day's volunteering with Changing Chalk 

Find out what is involved in a typical day's volunteering with some Changing Chalk projects aiming to protect our chalk grasslands for today and all our tomorrows in the eastern South Downs.