Local communities around London Heathrow airport received more than £500,000 in grants from the Heathrow Community Fund last year.
The funds come from three sources, fines imposed on aircraft that breach noise limits, an annual donation from Heathrow, and spare change from airport passengers. In the past two years, the airport’s charity fund has donated more than £1m to nine local boroughs.
In 2013, the Waterman’s Art Centre received £25,000 to help fund Urban Ambush, a four-week festival of creative programmes for young people during the summer of 2013. Young art aspirants worked with professional artists to develop new projects, learn new skills and showcase their work.
The Willow Tree Centre in Hillingdon received £25,000 in both 2012 and 2013, to help build new volunteer and maintenance facilities. Volunteers, including staff from Heathrow, maintain 15 acres of woodland, reed beds and meadow, with the centre providing outdoor activity facilities for children.
Caroline Nicholls, director of the Heathrow Community Fund, said: ‘This has been a record year both in terms of the number of grants we’ve awarded and the level of funds we’ve been able to donate to so many excellent community projects. It’s a privilege to be able to see at first hand the inspiring work done by dedicated local volunteers and community organisations.’
Jan Lennox of Urban Ambush, said: ‘Urban Ambush is our new Summer arts programme that gives young people an opportunity to develop their creative and interpersonal skills. The grant of £25,000 from Heathrow Community Fund was central to providing the range of activities that made the project such a great success.’
Dawn Palmer, of Willow Tree Management said: ‘We are indebted to Heathrow Airport, its Community Fund and its employees for their support and belief in what we are doing for the 14,000 young people, of all abilities, who use our Centre every year.’
Heathrow said that similar funds will also be made available this year, and that it is calling for more local charities to apply for grants. Heathrow Community Fund has three separate grant streams: Communities for Youth, aimed at improving education and economic regeneration, Communities for Tomorrow, focused on environment and sustainable development, and the Communities Together scheme, aimed at community focused projects.