Chester Bluecoat Charity is Chester’s oldest charity, and has been helping people from Chester and the surrounding areas for more than 800 years. Operating out of the historic Bluecoat school on Northgate street ( home of the iconic Bluecoat boy, installed 1854 and modelled on a pupil of the school) the charity works to change and improve the lives of local people by awarding grants to groups in need, predominantly to organisations in education or community development.
The charity was formed in 1837 when 31 local charities came together under the umbrella of one charity. New charities joined in 1892 and 1976 and following various structural changes over the years, Chester Municipal Charities rebranded as Chester Bluecoat charity in 2010.
One of the charity’s trustees Laura explained to me that the grant giving generally supports the disadvantaged in society and anyone looking to improve people’s lives. The Bluecoat also houses office space which is provided for charities and voluntary organisations, as well as meeting space available for anyone to hire. Situated at the rear of the building are the charity’s Alms houses- properties dating from 1854 to “provide housing for people in need, hardship or distress, and resident in or with a strong connection to Chester.”
The Bluecoat Charity have supported numerous local groups recently including, Fallen Angels Dance Theatre, ( 3 year funding programme for the group’s meetings at Storyhouse) West Cheshire Credit Union, (supported move to new modern premises near the bus interchange ) , Hoole Community Centre (grant for 55 and over Christmas party)and Live! Cheshire based at New Scene Youth Centre who received funding for a 3 year after school programme.
Two types of funding are available to eligible groups. The strategic funding programme awards grants of at least £2000 for larger, schemes making long term improvements over a number of years. Small funding programmes are single grants of amounts under £200 for organisations for a one off event.
In 2019 the Bluecoat donated £90,000 worth of funding to organisations across the city and also committed an additional £40,000 in funding to future projects. The charity has operated under the radar for a long time and the trustees are keen to raise their profile and awareness of the help that is available.
The Bluecoat recently awarded £30,000 to the Covid response appeal, which was set up by the Cheshire Community Foundation to help vulnerable people affected by the pandemic. “There are so many incredible causes in Chester and a lot of them won’t know what help is available”. For further details including tips and guidance on how to apply for grant funding please visit :
Chester Municipal Charity – The Bluecoat Chester (thechesterbluecoatcharity.co.uk)