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Snowball celebrates Southwark’s voluntary sector

Borough-based Mental Fight Club won the "biggest splash" award at the Spirit of Southwark Awards presented at this week's Snowball event hosted by the Capital Community Foundation.

Mental Fight Club, founded by local resident Sarah Wheeler, explores the connections between art and mental illness. Since its formal launch in April, the group has certainly made a big impact with its exhibition and recent Blake Night. The success of the group, which now boasts 400 members, was recognised as the organisation which has made the "biggest splash" in 2005 as part of the Spirit of Southwark awards presented at the Southwark Snowball.

The Snowball is an annual event organised by the Capital Community Foundation (formerly South East London Community Foundation – SELF) to recognise the contribution of the voluntary sector to the life of the borough.

In the past year the foundation has made 234 grants in the borough of Southwark, totalling 1.2 million.

Speakers at the event – this year held at Glaziers Hall next to London Bridge – included Council leader Nick Stanton, who reminded the assembled company that the borough is celebrating its 40th birthday.

A programme of entertainment was provided by local music, dance and drama groups.

Many local groups funded by the Capital Community Foundation were represented at the Snowball, including Borough Music School, In Toto Theatre, SE1 United and Southwark Cyclists.

These groups were funded via Land Securities' Capital Commitment Fund, which is administered by the foundation.

Southwark Cyclists received 5,000 to run bike training sessions and rides based at Mint Street Park over eight summer Saturdays. 50 local children benefited from the scheme, 13 of whom had never ridden a bike before.

SE1 United is a Waterloo-based youth forum. A talent show and youth conference were supported by funding from SELF.

Nicholas Akande, who – along with Moses Mwanje – recently became a trustee of SE1 United, said that being involved with the group had "allowed us to socialise" and provided "an extra circle of friends".

Nicholas added that "putting ideas into practice" is an important part of what SE1 United does – most of its events and projects are led by a young person who uses the experience as training for future employment – for example SE1 United's planned anti-gun crime rave is being led by a 16-year-old girl.

Other future plans include homework support sessions at the Living Space in Waterloo Road and a teenage parents' support group.

• In 2003 the Southwark Snowball was held at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

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