A CHARITY which provides vital grants and support for community groups across the county is embarking on an ambitious £1m fundraising challenge.

Cheshire Community Action, which has been running for the last 80 years, is aiming to raise the massive figure by April 2011 when the current government grant scheme ends.

The charity, based in Lower Bridge Street, has set up a fund called the Cheshire Grassroots Endowment so it can continue giving out vital grants for years to come.

Over the last two years, 12,000 people have benefited from the grants including community groups in Dodleston, Kelsall, Tarvin, Ellesmere Port and Neston.

Until March next year, the government has promised to match up to £145,000 raised for the endowment.

Cheshire Community Action development officer Tamara Bainbridge said: “This is the only county where there isn’t a major grant scheme. If we secure £1m we create an everlasting grant scheme for the smaller groups.

“This fund will still be going and supporting the people of Cheshire in 100 years time.

“Due to the impact of the recession – whether this is reduced income for grant funds due to low investment returns, or cuts from public sector funds - there is less and less money available for these groups to replace equipment, fund salaries, run projects and continue to enhance the lives of people across Cheshire.

“It’s a daunting challenge but if people can understand that these types of groups fill gaps in society then they should get on board with it. It’s about creating a legacy.”

For more information, contact Cheshire Community Action on 01244 323 602 or email enquiries@ cheshireaction.org.uk. Alternatively, visit www.cheshireaction.org.uk.

Dodleston Senior Citizens Lunch Club has received a grant from the charity to purchase equipment and pay for volunteer expenses.

The club meets each month at St Mary’s Church and the meals are cooked at Dodleston Primary School, which are served by the children.

Kelsall Youth Support Group was set up as a networking voluntary organisation to establish strong links between teenagers and the community.

Youth worker Carole Watson said: “With the help of the funds received from the Cheshire Grassroots Grants scheme we have been able to install a multi-use games area on Kelsall Green.

“It has provided a much-needed focal point and encouraged positive interaction between all ages of our community. With the support of the Grassroots scheme, Kelsall now has a superb facility for all young people at present and for future generations.”

Tarvin Woodland Community Trust received a grant for an all terrain field and brush mower in order to maintain the community woodlands.

There have been mroe than 7,000 voluntary hours put into the woodland by the community.

“The woodland is an amenity area created by the community for the community,” said treasurer John Daines.