THE search is on for the worthy causes to benefit from next year's Charity Ball.

Organisers hope that the ball, to be held next May, will take the total raised over 18 years of the event to £500,000.

And they want to hear from any local groups with a project large or small that needs a cash injection.

Nigel Henham, vice chairman of the Charity Ball committee, urged groups to come forward with their bids for donations.

"Over the years the ball has raised money for a whole range of charities and their projects," he said.

"We want to hear from as many groups as possible so that we can select the most worthwhile projects to back next year.

"All you need to do to be considered is fill in the form and send it off to us. It really is as easy as that.

"Then once the committee has decided which charities to support next year we can get on with organising the ball itself."

This year's ball attracted more than 160 guests to the Marriott Hotel, raising £20,000 which was then matched by Swindon-based Nationwide, the event's main sponsor.

Swindon Scrapstore, The Open Door Centre, Swindon Therapy Centre, NSPCC, North Swindon Family Centre, Broadgreen Breakfast Club, Leaves, Druglink, Lower Shaw Farm Children's Project and Reach Inclusive Arts all benefited from the event.

Since the ball was launched in 1989 it has raised more than £440,000 for local charities.

And with a target of taking that total to £500,000 next year organisers are looking for some larger projects to give money to.

"We hope to hit the half a million figure next year so we should have plenty of money to hand to local groups," said Mr Henham.

"In the past we have normally backed fairly small-scale projects but we are now also looking for bigger projects to support.

"So charities should not hesitate in asking for our help, whatever they are hoping to do."

For more information on the ball visit www.thecharityball. where you can print off an application form.

Charity Ball provides a helping hand to groups

  • Swindon Scrapstore The scrapstore, which is based in Pinehurst People's Centre, collects clean, reusable waste from the business community then sorts and displays it so that members can collect materials to use as they wish.

The ball committee gave the charity £6,100 for a new Transit van.

  • The Open Door Centre The Devizes Road centre is a social and leisure club for adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities or mental health problems. The centre's chairs were broken and falling apart so it was given £3,371 for new armchairs.
  • Swindon Therapy Centre for Multiple Sclerosis Based at BSS House, on Cheney Manor Industrial Estate, this is a self-help group for people with Multiple Sclerosis, offering them a range of therapies and support to sufferers and their families.

The funding of £1,500 is for a hoist and three slings to ensure safe manoeuvring of members by staff and volunteers in the centre.

  • NSPCC North Swindon Family Centre The centre offers a drop in facility for children and their families in Penhill, Abbey Meads and Pinehurst. A donation of £7,000 helped the centre to extend its building.
  • Broadgreen Breakfast Club The breakfast club, in Salisbury Street, provides a hot breakfast and shower facilities to those who find themselves homeless and have to sleep rough in Swindon.

The £4,000 award from the charity ball went towards food supplies.

  • LEAVES Based on Marlborough Road, this is a non-profit making social enterprise which aims to provide community services while creating satisfying work and employment for people recovering from mental health problems. The group was given £8,000 for a new Transit Crew Cab.
  • Druglink This independent community based agency, on Victoria Road, provides a service to anyone whose life is affected by drug misuse, including parents, carers and other concerned individuals.

A £3,000 award was given to the project for three new computers.

  • Lower Shaw Farm Children's Project The farm works with families and children from all over Swindon running events and workshops to advance the education of children and young people in the area.

The project was given £1,800 to run six environmental activity days during the school holidays.

  • Reach Inclusive Arts The charity, based at Pinehurst People's Centre, supports adults with learning difficulties. A grant of £4,500 goes towards an arts regeneration project in Parks and East Walcot, and to fund the partners production that will be touring Swindon schools early next year.