£10,000 of funding for new Rochester Riverside Community Board projects announced

The Friends of the Wisdom Hospice supports the work of The Wisdom Hospice, the only adult hospice serving Medway and Swale in Kent, through an annual grant to Medway Community Healthcare of £670,000 towards hospice running costs. The Friends also provide extra equipment and facilities that fall outside the MCH budget. Having been supported earlier this year with £2,500 from the Countryside Communities Fund, which was set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rochester Riverside Community Board has provided an additional sum of £5,000 to support to the Friends of the Wisdom Hospice, which will support nursing and counselling provided by the hospice.

The second project supported in this round of funding is ‘Back in Touch’, which has also been awarded £5,000 of funding. Organised by local artist Wendy Daws, ‘Back in Touch’ will build on the work of the ‘Out of Sight Not Out of Mind’ project, which supported artists with sight loss to create and showcase work at home, culminating in the recent exhibition at Rochester Art Gallery. Building on these outcomes, ‘Back in Touch’ will work with inspiring cultural venues such as Rochester Cathedral, the Guildhall Museum and the Huguenot Museum to provide a safe, creative space for the artists to reconvene and develop their relationships and their individual practice, as well as providing creative mentorship and access to a range of materials.

The project aims to increase the confidence and connectivity of blind and visually impaired artists during a challenging time of isolation, bringing people together and improving mental wellbeing.

The project will also form part of the 100​th anniversary celebrations for the Kent Association for the Blind and so a celebration photobook will be sent to the artists and selected partners ahead of a public exhibition during the Medway Open Studios & Arts Festival 2021.

The Rochester Riverside Community Board was set up to ensure that the benefits of Rochester Riverside, Countryside and Hyde’s £419m regeneration scheme in Medway, are felt across the area, bringing to life worthwhile initiatives and ideas that enhance the local area with an annual budget of £30,000 available for selected community-led projects.

These initiatives follow the success of other community projects that have already been supported by the Board, which include the recently completed renovation of the playground and outdoor teaching areas at St Margaret’s at Troy Town Primary School, and in 2019, the Medway Neuro-Arts Festival, Jasper’s Community Café, and more – all of which are showcased on the Rochester Riverside community website.

Andrew Usher, Managing Director, Partnerships South London, Countryside, commented:Our Rochester Riverside regeneration has been marked by our commitment to the wider area, and the Rochester Riverside Community Board’s funding for local projects is a key part of this. The challenges of this year have made this funding particularly important, and so we’re proud to support the Friends of the Wisdom Hospice and Back in Touch, which will improve community cohesion and quality of life for those in need across the area.”

Guy Slocombe, Chief Investment Officer at Hyde, said: “We’re delighted to support these projects, which represent meaningful community engagement and partnership working, all of which are principles of our Rochester Riverside regeneration. Through the Community Board, we are committed to ensuring that the benefits of Rochester Riverside go beyond the destination we are creating, and so we are still welcoming applications for projects that will make a further contribution to this great community.”

Martyn Reeves, Chief Executive, The Friends of the Wisdom Hospice, added: “2020 has certainly been a year like no other. Earlier this year our fundraising events were cancelled, and our charity shops were closed, causing our income to all but dry up. The support from the Rochester Riverside Community Board and from our community has ensured that The Friends have been able to maintain our much-needed financial support of The Wisdom Hospice throughout this difficult time and we would like to sincerely thank everyone at the Rochester Riverside Community Board for their invaluable support.”

Wendy Daws, organiser of Back in Touch, commented: "Projects like this are vital for everyone’s wellbeing and sense of self - especially during current times. There has been a real sense of pride and achievement for all involved, from the visually impaired participants and volunteers to family and friends visiting the exhibition. We are incredibly grateful for the funding to enable us to continue into Spring 2021 and the opportunity to continue to raise awareness of living life with sight loss.”

The Community Board ensures that the community funds will be allocated to local stakeholders and organisations through a robust and transparent application process. Funding applications for 2020 and 2021 are still open - those interested should apply now by visiting

Rochester Riverside is the region’s flagship regeneration project. Delivered by Countryside and Hyde over the next 12 years, it will create a new mixed-tenure community of up to 1,400 new homes, a new primary school, nursery, hotel, 2.5km river walkway, commercial units, parking, green open spaces, play areas and landscaping.


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About Countryside

Countryside is the UK’s leading mixed-tenure developer through its two divisions, Partnerships and Housebuilding, creating places where people love to live, with sustainable communities built to last. In April 2020, it was awarded the 5 Star Rating by the Home Builders Federation following the latest home building industry’s Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Countryside’s Partnerships division was established over 40 years ago, specialising in estate regeneration, with operations in London, the South East, the North West, the Midlands and Yorkshire. It works mainly on public sector owned and brownfield land, in partnership with local authorities and housing associations to develop private, affordable and PRS homes. It recently established a modular panel manufacturing facility in Warrington to improve quality and reduce build times on site. Its developments include large scale urban regeneration projects at Beam Park, Rainham; Acton Gardens, Ealing; and Rochester Riverside, Medway.

Countryside’s Housebuilding division benefits from an industry leading strategic land bank which is focused around outer London and the Home Counties. It builds family homes, with a focus on placemaking and selling to local owner occupiers. Its developments include a number of large-scale projects including Beaulieu, Chelmsford, Springhead Park, Ebbsfleet and Tattenhoe Park, Milton Keynes.

Countryside delivered 4,053 homes in the twelve months to September 2020 – 3,213 through its Partnerships division and 840 through its Housebuilding division, with a mix of private for sale, PRS and affordable homes. The Group has a strong balance sheet with new framework agreements signed during 2020 which, along with a record forward order book, up 23% to £1,432m, underpin the mixed-tenure delivery model focused on delivering quality homes and sector leading growth. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange in February 2016 as a constituent of the FTSE 250.

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About Hyde

Hyde was established in 1967 to provide homes for those left behind by the market. We are an award winning provider of homes, combining social purpose with entrepreneurial drive and professionalism.

Hyde is one of the largest housing associations working in England, owning or managing circa 50,000 homes in London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, the East of England and East Midlands. This means that more than 100,000 residents have a home at a price at which they can afford, with long tenancies that give them the chance to improve their life chances.

The homes that we build, as well as the ones we already own, include those for shared ownership, for social rent, for outright sale and for private rent. Hyde Housing Association is a not-for-profit organisation but our family of companies, which makes up the Hyde Group, includes charities and profit-making subsidiaries. The money that we make is used to build more homes for those excluded from the market. For every million pounds surplus we make, we can build 150 new homes for people who otherwise would not be able to access a place to call home.

To find out more about the Hyde Group visit

Story posted: 18/12/2020

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