Local People in Southend

08 February 2018

Steven DeViell has been involved with the Local People project in Southend from the very beginning. He is a founding member of their project board, helping to lead the project, make decisions and welcome new members.  

In this piece, Steven talks about why he joined the project board, what’s involved and the difference it has made to him.

“I had never done anything like it before, but I felt that with the right support, it was a good project to be part of and I could help make a real difference.

In our roles as project board members, we talk to lots of people, make new members feel welcome, discuss things that are important to do with the project and make decisions.

We have a small grants programme where we give money to projects run by groups of residents. When we get applications, our job is to listen to people giving talks about why they believe their project should be given funding and ask important questions before we all vote.

Before we make a decision, we are always prepared to ask questions. I am good at asking questions and if answers aren’t given, I will keep asking those important questions until they are.

Previously, a project applied for funding for a gazebo but on their application form, they stated that they could manage without the gazebo, so at our meeting, I said if they could cope without it, why have they applied for funding?

I think it was a fair question and I said we needed to think about whether a project really needs that funding. Yes, we have money to give to projects but we can’t give it to those that don’t need it.

I voted no and the majority of other people did the same so they didn’t get the funding for it.

I have learned some important skills about decision making through being part of the project board. Previously, I don’t think I was that good with decisions. I think lots of people used to get fed up with waiting for me to make decisions so they just made them for me.

I also had support to go to Scope’s headquarters in London for a network meeting. I was representing our project board and it was an opportunity to tell people what was happening in our own project and to find out how others were going.

The theme was talking about the role of project boards and what we do. I gave a talk to everyone there about the reasons why we turned down the project applying for funding for the gazebo as an example of the work we do and the process of decision making.

Mark (Community Engagement Coordinator) and everyone else have given me the right support to be able to get involved. Help make important decisions and make a difference is the best part of being involved.”

Steven DeViell


The small grants programme is part of the Local People project in Southend, supported by Scope, and funded by People’s Health Trust, using money raised by HealthStrength.

Other priorities for the project include increased awareness of disability issues, activities for disabled young people, parent/carer stress management and increased beach access for disabled young people.

To find out about other great ideas funded by the Trust, click here.

You have already completed an application for funding, are you sure you would like to submit another application? You should only submit another application if it is for a different project. If you want to amend an application that has already been submitted, please call us on 020 7749 9100.

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