EALING'S hardworking volunteers were celebrating this week after winning a grant of just under £1million - the largest amount in the country.
Ealing Community and Voluntary Service (Ealing CVS) was awarded £965,000 this week from the Big Lottery Fund for an 'ambitious' collaboration with four neighbouring boroughs: Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow.
Chief executive Andy Roper said: "This tremendous vote of confidence by the Big Lottery shows the high quality work being done by the voluntary sector in Ealing and with our community partners in neighbouring boroughs.
"It was a particularly ambitious and innovative bid and hopefully that's why we got the budget."
The charity already has close links with these boroughs, as well as Hammersmith and Fulham, through the West London Network - a consortium of voluntary services which works closely with local authorities and the private sector to deliver frontline services at lower cost.
Ealing was one of 72 voluntary sector groups in England to receive grants from a £30m pot set up by the Cabinet Office and managed by the Big Fund - the non-lottery funding arm of the Big Lottery. Nick Hurd, minister for civil society, said it was designed to make 'it easier to run a charity' and to enable charities to support local infrastructure.
A key part of the Ealing bid is to help voluntary services learn the business know-how to deliver a wider range of public services in collaboration with Ealing Council.
One exciting initiative is a new Ealing Involved website, jointly funded by the Big Fund and the council, to encourage local involvement.
Mr Roper said: "It's a web portal that brings people altogether and gives people the chance to get involved with a host of volunteering criteria. It brings the Big Society rhetoric into being."
Volunteers can offer their time, skills or goods through an interactive notice board, while residents can make donations and find out how to become a school governor or special constable.
The collaboration aims to get more local businesses on board through volunteering projects and sponsorship. Training and mentoring schemes will support new voluntary groups, and a business support hub will help on the administrative side. Equalities charities representing disability, refugees, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups will also get training support.
The programmes will begin in April. For more information contact Andy Roper, email@example.com.