SOUTH Essex charities and community groups can earn themselves a cash boost, courtesy of the Echo.

The Gannett Foundation, spearheaded by the Echo’s parent company Gannett, has handed out more than £7million to community groups since it was introduced in 1991.

Registered charities and community groups can now apply for funding for projects which display a creative and innovative approach to helping its community. In the past, Fair Havens Hospice, Westcliff, the Southend Blind Welfare Association, Lancaster School, Westcliff and Southend Phab were awarded a total of £25,300.

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

Successful applications could include schemes for neighbourhood improvement, economic or youth development, education and cultural creativity, environmental products 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.

To qualify, applicants must be registered charities and must not have received a grant from the foundation within the past two years. Salaries or day-to-day running costs will not be considered.

For more information, log on to