A Year of POP+
The city reaps benefits from a vintage year at POP+
Vulnerable families, lonely older people and bored teenagers are among the many people in Plymouth whose lives have been transformed because of the Plymouth Octopus Project or POP+ as it is known. Last year the organisation which supports the voluntary and community sector in Plymouth, helped to bring in nearly £1.5m of external funding to help pay for projects across the city and, in doing so, improve the health of the city for everyone.
Thanks to POP+, the streets in the city centre feel safer at night, with up to a hundred teenagers turning up at the Methodist Central Hall youth club every Friday night. Funding from POP+ enabled the club to create a DJ area with industry-standard mixing desks and sound-system equipment. The hugely-popular initiative has been congratulated by the police and recognised for helping to create a safer environment for everyone. Meanwhile, Moments, the well-known city centre café and support centre for people (and their families) with dementia, has been able to provide more support to those in need and in crisis while the popular Plymouth Ukulele Group has found funding for the first time thanks to POP+;
“We didn’t know there was help out there for groups like us,” says Harry Chandler, the group’s leader. “But we were shown where we could apply; we were helped with the writing on our form and we got the money which has made a huge difference to the club and to those that come. Many of our members have been widowed and its really helped to bring them out and give them confidence in themselves.”
POP+ has been aiding charities, community groups and social enterprises since 2013. As well as providing training, networking opportunities and business advice free-of-charge to its 1,600 members, the organisation also helps projects identify and apply for funding which will grow their organisations and better support people. Last year £1,415,550 of external funding was awarded to Plymouth-based projects enabling them to support local people. Imogen Potter, the Capacity Building Manager for POP+, says its impact is considerable;
“We are part of Plymouth’s ecosystem and without POP+, and the work it does, there would be more pressure on statutory services, like, the police; doctors’ surgeries and the mental health teams. Without POP+ many of these voluntary and community organisations, which are vital to the city, wouldn’t get support; wouldn’t get funding and some of them wouldn’t even exist.”
In 2018 POP+ gave free business and funding advice to more than two hundred community groups and organisations (which, in turn, support more than 1000 volunteers and activists); provided more than twenty training workshops and organised a monthly networking event to give organisations from the voluntary and community sector the chance to meet, share and collaborate. Its reputation along with its participatory and committed approach to the sector has also helped the city attract significant funding from some of the most transformative grant-making foundations in the country, such as the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and the Rank Foundation.
POP+ is free to join and offers training, funding and business advice to its members. Networking meetings, open to all, are held every month. The first meeting of 2019 will take place on Thursday the 31st of January from 10.00am until 4.00pm in the Lower Guildhall.