VCS Infrastructure Support Helps Keep South Shropshire Youth Groups Running

Bishop’s Castle Town Council just received £15k from Thriving Children & Families grant funding provided through Shropshire Council and the NHS to continue offering vital youth services in their area.

The funding will be used to maintain some relatively young projects in Bishop’s Castle that might have otherwise had to discontinue their work due to funding coming to an end. Both the Town Council and Hereford Diocese are putting forward match funding. The youth services that will now get time to embed are currently delivered through the South Shropshire Youth Forum (SSYF) and include:

Young people from South Shropshire plan a campaign. Image courtesy of SSYN
Young people from South Shropshire plan a campaign. Image courtesy of SSYN


Bishop’s Castle would have lost these programmes were it not for the help of South Shropshire Youth Network (SSYN) Infrastructure Support Officer Marinke Fontein. When Marinke saw the Thriving Children funding become available in the VCSA newsletter, she contacted Bishop’s Castle Town Councillor, Andy Stelman, and noted that this funding could be used to continue this important youth support in the area. Marinke even helped with the council’s application for the funding.

“These services were born out of a 2021 youth consultation SSYN delivered, which highlighted that young people in south Shropshire were looking for things to do and places to hang out, and help with mental health and wellbeing, but in a comfortable, informal way, without labels attached. Thanks to this funding, this important work will continue,” said Marinke.

Marinke and SSYN are also currently supporting Bishop’s Castle Town Council and the Hereford Diocese to create a rural youth hub over the next year or so.

Marinke feels strongly that this successful funding bid emphasises the significance of infrastructure support, especially when it is delivered in a way that makes use of local knowledge.

“It was the ability for someone to see the big picture, and to make the connection between the Town Council and the voluntary organisations delivering services and seeing options for match funding that made the difference in getting this grant secured,” she said.

In addition to Marinke’s support, SSYN offers local knowledge and networking from a large group of peer members operating in South Shropshire. The network meets regularly, and membership is free for those who work with or are interested in working with young people in the region.

To join the next SSYN meeting, or to receive their regular newsletter, please contact Marinke Fontein,

Two other councils, Wem Town Council and Cleobury Mortimer Town Council, were also successful in the first round of this funding. Read more here.

There is still time for Town and Parish Councils to apply for more than £100,000 remaining in the Thriving Children and Families grant fund. The funding is specifically allocated to those councils working on projects with the community sector. The second round of this funding is open until Tuesday, 2nd May 2023. Download the application form here.