A bespoke taxi service on a side-by-side tandem trike, an arts trail, a Forest School for adults and handweaving sessions for people with learning disabilities are among ten community projects coming to the Somer Valley that will be free for people to access.

The projects have been awarded a share of £115,000 from the Willson Grant, a two-year fund to encourage walking, cycling and wheeling and support good mental health through use of arts, culture or green events and activities.

The Willson Grant supports individuals, community groups, micro-businesses, freelancers and organisations to launch or offer free active travel, creative, sustainable and cultural projects.

Grants for small projects up to £1,000 and larger projects up to £7,000 have been awarded under this first round, with a second round of awards to follow at the end of 2024.

The grant is being administered by Bath & North East Somerset Council and Bath Spa University, and is funded through The Active Way and the West of England Combined Authority to support grass roots initiatives. The ten projects are:

Creative RevolutionHERies by Rockaway Park – workshops for young women in metalwork, woodwork, and welding to create benches and planters for the community, and walking and cycling trails.

The Greenway Arts Trail by Radstock Town Council – creating permanent artworks on the Greenway and upcycling existing infrastructure to develop a trail to encourage people to walk, wheel and cycle.

Chat E Cycle - A bespoke taxi service on a side-by-side electric tandem trike to offer older adults opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, physical activity and social connection.

InclusiVfit- A safe, inclusive group where people can be together to get fit in readiness for joining a parkrun. For people aged over 18.

Skate Parc by Parc Skate School CIC – promoting grassroots skateboarding as an alternative to traditional sports to improve the physical and mental health of our children and young adults.

Curiositree – bringing women together in a nurturing, restful outdoor space to reflect and explore playful, creative activities – similar to Forest School but for adults.

Timsbury Street Theatre Workshops by the Natural Theatre Company, Timsbury – free drop-in creative drama sessions for young people to learn performance, improvisation, costume, comedy, and filmmaking.

Handweaving for people with disabilities – creative activity taken to residential homes and community spaces for the public.

Creative Roots outdoor learning – a range of Forest School programmes supporting parents of young children aged between 18 months and four years old, with a Wild Dads group for dads, grandads and male carers of children aged four and over.

Sing-a-ling - a weekly intergenerational music group called The Kindness Connection, offering parents/carers take their young children to a care home in Paulton to partake in musical activities and to socialise with the residents.

Five additional projects funded through The Active Way will also bring Nordic walking, buggy walks, and a hireable e-cargo bike to the Somer Valley.

The Willson Grant is named in tribute to Jenny Willson, a Bath & North East Somerset Council employee who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2023 and was instrumental in the development of the successful bid for national funding for The Active Way.

The Active Way is Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Active Travel Social Prescribing Project which is funded through Active Travel England. It is a pilot taking place in the Somer Valley area which includes Radstock, Westfield, Midsomer Norton, Paulton, Timsbury and Peasedown St John.

Councillor Sarah Warren, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Sustainable Travel, said: “Thank you to everyone who applied for Willson Grant funding earlier this year. We’ve had a fantastic response which means that many exciting projects can now be brought to the Somer Valley to help people improve their physical and mental wellbeing. I’m looking forward to seeing all these wonderful community activities get under way and we’ll be opening a second round of funding later next year.”

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “I’m proud funding from the Mayoral Combined Authority I lead is supporting the Willson Grant.

“These ten projects will go a long way to getting more people doing things like walking as much as possible, as well as boosting mental health by offering more opportunities for people right across Bath and North East Somerset to get creative too.

“I’m particularly excited about the Greenway Arts Trail and Chat E Cycle - two unique projects that will help get more people out of their cars, which is a huge priority for the Mayoral Combined Authority. As Metro Mayor, I’m committed to working with local people on projects that bring pride to our area.”

Ruby Sant, the Inclusive Communities Development Officer at Bath Spa University said; "From an impressive range of applications, we have selected some really strong, deeply rooted projects developed by local Somer Valley freelancers and creative SMEs. The projects will provide a variety of opportunities for residents across the whole area. 

“We believe the impact of these projects for the people who take part, and the people who run them, will be really significant and we hope that this is the start of a really impactful working relationship between all of the applicants, the University, the CA and B&NES."