How Community Foundations fund 'under the radar but vital' groups

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LCF helps small grassroots organisations grow by supporting them with crucial funding as well as advice. - Credit: The London Community Foundation

Poverty, domestic violence and mental health issues are just some of the issues Community Foundations across London are helping to tackle.

Specialising in funding small grassroots organisations, the UK Community Foundations (UKCF) network is made up of 47 localised groups around the country, including the London Community Foundation (LCF).

This newspaper spoke to LCF as part of our There With You This Winter campaign, launched earlier this month, which looks to signpost readers in financial difficulty to the support they need as the days and nights draw colder.

It gave out £22 million to charitable organisations through 1,324 grants between April 2020 to April 2021. 

The LCF website explains: "We're passionate about London, its people, its communities and its vitality. But we also know that it's a place that can exclude and marginalise. We believe grassroots organisations hold the key to improving the lives of the most disadvantaged. 

"By shining a light on the key issues faced and supporting the best ideas to grow, we strengthen and nurture the network of local people solving local problems."

Director of development and communications at LCF, Laura Perkins, said Covid has increased demand for the charities it funds. 

Similarly, the East End Community Foundation (EECF), which works to tackle inequality across the boroughs of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets  and  the  City of London, has launched a campaign in response to Covid.  

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Its Life Chances Campaign aims to distribute £5 million to grassroots organisations supporting vulnerable people in east London.  

Incoming chair of the EECF, Bronek Masojada, agreed the pandemic has “challenged the community”. 

He said: “Not only have more people in the East End lost their lives to Covid compared to the rest of the UK, but existing inequities are more entrenched.  

“Families cannot provide enough food for their children, older people go weeks and months without speaking to a single person, and lack of internet provision prevent families from accessing the same opportunities as the rest of the UK.” 

Speaking of LCF’s devotion to supporting community groups which help disadvantaged people, Laura said its aim is to “bridge the gap to try and encourage more philanthropy from the public sector, corporates, local councils and individuals to give back to their local community”. 

Once a donation is secured, Laura said the charity works to “encourage more of that money to flow to small community organisations all across London”. 

She said support is provided to organisations which “wouldn’t normally have the resources or people to do fundraising or big marketing campaigns” and ones which “often operate under the radar but are doing vital work on your doorstep in your local area”. 

Each community foundation works on supporting causes relevant to their speciality.  

Statistics released by EECF show the borough of Tower Hamlets has the highest unemployment rates in the UK, while over 50,000 in the borough are without internet. This acts as a barrier to services and education.  

Part of EECF’s work is to reduce digital exclusion, poverty and isolation among older people in the borough.  

LCF says its grants impact lives across London through high-profile and large-scale campaigns, such as its work with the Evening Standard on homelessness.

At the moment the charity is working with the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) on a programme to tackle violence against women and girls, which it says has escalated throughout the pandemic.  

Laura added: “Throughout the pandemic, much of the money which was raised across the country through the national emergencies trust was deployed through local community foundations.  

“Much of the donations were shared amongst community foundations and we had the job of making sure it got out to all those local amazing community groups.”  

Describing her time working at LCF as “inspiring”, Laura applauded the charity’s passion to support those in need and said, despite hard times, she has seen how community organisations use the funding provided by LCF to do “so much”.

Find out more about LCF by visiting https://londoncf.org.uk/ or EECF at https://eastendcf.org/

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