This column is written by Kevin Cranston, the mayor of Stroud.

A group of concerned residents in Paganhill recognised the need for a place where members of the community could get together.

They did something about it and three years ago the Paganhill Community Group was born.

A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to be invited to open their annual summer fayre.

They also run a community café every Friday afternoon at the Maypole Hall. Anyone can drop in for a cup of tea or a hot meal and stay for chat for as long as they like.

PCG received a small grant from Stroud Town Council to help with its set-up costs and some practical advice on running volunteer groups.

This is one way we hope to work to help other groups get off the ground.

When the town council started to see the devastating impact that the austerity inspired cuts to county and district services were causing to the most vulnerable in our communities we knew we had to do something.

But a town council has limited resources and cannot provide the same levels of support.

Instead, we decided that we needed to work with communities to develop support networks such as PCG.

We recruited more staff who have skills such as fundraising and community support work.

We reorganised the Green Spaces team so that they are better able to work with the public either as individuals or in groups.

STC is committed to work with all parts of the town to help build robust supportive groups.

We can provide small grants to cover start-up costs and practical advice.

Enabling voluntary groups to develop and grow in Stroud is not confined to community groups.

We recruited the trust to run the Subs, who we are helping get up and running.

We want to make Stroud a more vibrant and resilient place where people are healthy, happy and feel included.

Find out more about our grants and community support at