A HELPING hand is being offered by the Echo to help community groups and good causes.

The Echo’s owners, Gannett, are looking to help communities through their charitable arm, the Gannett Foundation.

In the past ten years, the foundation has given out grants in the UK totalling more than £4million.

Now applications are being taken for new bids.

Projects should have lasting benefits to communities and neighbourhoods in south Essex.

That could include schemes for neighbourhood improvement, economic or youth development, education and cultural creativity, environmental projects or help for the disadvantaged or disabled. Applications are welcomed for specific items of equipment or materials – such as a box of toys for disadvantaged children or money towards sophisticated medical equipment for cancer research.

Most applications are for relatively modest sums, but the foundation also encourages imaginative and ambitious projects. Money given by the foundation can also be used with other contributors to support elements of larger projects.

Ideas which create an enduring legacy for the community are especially favoured, but individual schemes will also be considered.

Grants are usually in the region of between £5,000 and £10,000.

To qualify, applicants must be registered charities and not have received a grant from the foundation within the past two years.

Salaries or day-to-day running costs will not be considered.

Go to our website at echonews.co.uk/gannett for more information and to download an application form, which must be submitted by 5pm on September 12.