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Over £50,000 awarded to local groups so far through the 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 £50,000 have been awarded in total since June 2023 to Sussex community organisations, with awards varying from £1,000 to £5,000.

Grants to benefit local communities and local environment

All of the successful applicants demonstrated how their projects would benefit local communities and support the Changing Chalk partnership’s overall vision of creating a sustainable future for the eastern South Downs. The projects have included history, heritage and nature programmes to connect young people with the Downs, and arts and nature initiatives to improve mental health, as well as projects that prioritise nature and habitat conservation.

Congratulations to all of the worthy recipients of the grant so far

The Grow Project

The Wellbeing in West Sussex project provides an eight-week programme for residents in the Shoreham and Adur area who are struggling with poor mental health. They offer 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. Find out more here

The Wildflower Conservation Society (Brighton and beyond)

The Wildflower Conservation Society are 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. Find out more here

The Network of International Women for Brighton and Hove

This group 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. Find out more here

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. Find out more here

Marlborough Productions

The Radical Rhizomes project developed 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. Find out more here

Wildwood Heritage

Through its Tracing the Lost Voices of Beachy Head project, Wildwood Heritage celebrates Beachy Head’s heritage as an international communications hub. The group 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. Find out more here

Round 2 Awardees

Project Art Works

Project Art Works will provide opportunities for neurodivergent people from the local area to connect with nature and take inspiration from the countryside, through a series of field trips, which will inform their creative practice.  Find out more here

Brighton & Hove Music for Connection (BHMC)

Brighton and Hove Music for Connection (BHMC) is a Community Interest Company specialising in providing participatory music opportunities for people of all abilities and backgrounds to connect and create through making music together, for wellbeing, social inclusion, and community building. Brighton and Hove Music for Connection (BHMC) will create a series of accessible and restorative Interactive Listening Walks that connect local urban communities to the nature and heritage of the Downs.  Find out more here

Little Green Pig

Little Green Pig will explore the history of Saddlescombe Farm on the South Downs with a group of children from under-resourced Brighton communities, focusing on bringing to life lesser told tales.  Find out more here

Act On It

Act On It uses drama to improve the lives of others and to provide a voice for the marginalised and under-represented. Our workshops for young people engage, build skills and knowledge and improve well-being and social inclusion.

Their project will connect local young people impacted by poor mental health with the South Downs and the culture inspired by the landscape. The young people will take part in online sessions that will bring the Downs to them, using drama to explore and interpret paintings, literature and music inspired by walks on the Downs. Find out more here

Samphire Brighton & Hove CIC

Samphire Brighton & Hove CIC offers a variety of positive opportunities for local people. The CIC has established an initiative called Hearts and Flowers that operates from a one-acre site at Stanmer Organics between Brighton & Hove and Lewes in the South Downs National Park. Hearts and Flowers is an organic flower growing initiative that offers a welcoming space for local people to come and take part in activities that are designed to boost mental and physical health. Find out more here

Brighton and Hove Museums – Royal Pavilion Museums Trust

Brighton and Hove Museums will bring together the historical knowledge of flora, fauna and biodiversity from across the South Downs National Park and preserved at the Booth Museum, with the creative cultural production of Archival Artist and Community and Organisational Poet, Pauline Rutter. Find out more here

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 something that the Trust and its partners are passionate about. I hope the Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme will, over the years, allow more people to appreciate, enjoy and help to protect the amazing countryside that is right outside our doors here in Sussex.

A quote by Dr Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski Chair of Changing Chalk Community Grants Scheme advisory panel
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.

The next round of Community Grants Scheme funding will open in Autumn 2024

You can find out more details here

There are 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.

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.”

A quote by
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.