UK conservation charity Sea-Changers has announced the six recipients of grants from its new Marine Conservation Social Fund – cash intended for use on environmental projects in which sometimes disadvantaged participants can derive their own social, health and well-being benefits.
“Engagement with blue spaces can have a hugely positive impact on well-being,” says the voluntary body. “It is also the case that volunteering has both individual and community cohesion benefits.” Describing the successful applicants’ projects as “innovative, thoughtful and important”, it reckons the work will make a significant impact over the next 12 months if not beyond.
Made possible by a single donation of £23,000, the 2021 Marine Conservation Social Fund is to be shared between The Dee Estuary Well-Being with Nature Project (Cheshire Wildlife Trust); The Ocean Well-Being Project (Clean Ocean Sailing); Reusable Period Education to our Schools (GRAB); Ocean Pathways (Ocean Conservation Trust); Trash & Treasure (Penparcau Wildlife Group); and Blue Youth: Kickstarting the Connection with Marine Conservation (Whale & Dolphin Conservation).
Sea-Changers was founded by scuba divers Helen Webb and Rachel Lopata and began its grant-giving programme 10 years ago, with the active participation of the UK diving community. Raising funds through corporate partnerships (which now number 18), online giving and auctions, sponsored events and individual donations, it distributes the money to UK marine charities and non-profit organisations, including schools, as one-off grants for conservation and research projects.
There are two regular funds, Main Grants and Small Grants, and Sea-Changers says that the former has now expanded, with applications for grants of between £500 and £2,500 on offer. There are two annual rounds of applications for the Main Grants Fund, with deadlines of 31 March and 30 September.
The Small Grants Fund, for awards of up to £500, is now open for applications year-round: “You can apply any time and get a quick decision,” promises Sea-Changers.
The organisation recently held a virtual festival to celebrate its 10 years of grant-giving, and this is still available to view on YouTube. “I learned to scuba dive in 2002, but I didn’t realise what a life-changing hobby it would become,” says Webb. “After a few years of diving, it became clear that the sea was experiencing some very serious problems. My concern resulted in action and, with the support of some fantastic people, Sea-Changers was born.”
To date the organisation has raised and distributed some £250,000 to more than 200 marine conservation projects around the UK. Details of Sea-Changers activities can be found on its website.