WORCESTERSHIRE County Council's Changing Futures Fund has received 169 applications to the fund, with a range of voluntary and community groups finding the support invaluable for their future planning.

Changing Futures was set up as part of the county council's commitment to supporting the voluntary and community sector (VCS) to develop strong, sustainable organisations and the council set aside a special fund of £750,000 in 2012 to deliver a range of targeted support packages.

The types of support packages include areas like human resources, financial planning, marketing, start-up advice and new ways of working.

The Lounge in Alvechurch is one of 19 organisations that has taken up the New Ways of Working package which is provided by the fund.

This scheme started as a youth project with volunteers developing a facility they could use in the village but this workshop showed The Lounge could be more widely used as a hub for all members of the community.

Now the community in Alvechurch is to look at expanding the activities on offer to include sport, drama, music, work experience, outings and setting up a community magazine.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, who is the county council's cabinet member for localism and communities, said: "We set up the Changing Futures Fund to enable the voluntary sector to gain new skills for the benefit of their whole community.

"Here is an excellent example where what started as a youth facility is now going to benefit the whole community and will continue to do so for many years and also shows how our Act Local approach can create change for the better."

For more information about the Changing Futures Fund go to and then click on the 'Changing Futures Fund' button, or alternatively call Suzy James, the VCS Co-ordinator on 01905 728650 or email .