Refugees, victims of human trafficking and survivors of domestic abuse are among thousands of Londoners set to benefit from a £100million charity pot.
A consultation by City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder and the capital’s biggest independent grant maker, revealed many in the capital are facing widespread inequality, poverty and disadvantage.
In response, its new five-year funding programme, called Bridging Divides, will see £100m distributed to the capital’s charities to help Londoners most in need.
City Bridge Trust asked Londoners, the capital’s charities and community groups, public and private sectors, funders and policy makers for their views on the health of the charity sector.
Responses from 1,000 Londoners, described a charity industry ‘in crisis’ and ‘at tipping point’, with reductions in state funding and spiralling costs of living in London contributing to a surge in demand for services from the capital’s disadvantaged and marginalised communities.
As part of the consultation, research commissioned by City Bridge Trust found that there is an opportunity for all charity funders, in a time of austerity, to work more closely with civil society to tackle deep-rooted social issues.
It showed a need for more strategic and flexible charity investment with less bureaucratic processes for charities to apply for funding.
Through Bridging Divides, City Bridge Trust has pledged a more flexible charity funding approach, including grants of different sizes and duration, with more targeted social investment and match funding.
City Bridge Trust acknowledges that significant political changes lie ahead with Brexit creating a climate of uncertainty for many charities and communities in London.
Funding from the EU is currently worth at least £258million a year. During City Bridge Trust’s research, the capital’s charities raised Brexit as an issue of concern, with uncertainty about future European Union funding, staff recruitment and demand for charity services all being referenced.
Through targeted charity funding, Bridging Divides addresses these concerns and recognises the overwhelming positives that come with living in a city like London, renowned for its culture, heritage, diversity, resilience, wealth and, above all, its people.
Areas City Bridge Trust has pledged to support through Bridging Divides include:
- Supporting survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, modern day slavery, trafficking and hate crime
- Helping people experiencing food poverty through food banks
- Backing for environmental projects
- Boosting integration support services for migrants and refugees
- Enabling disabled and older people to have more choice and control
- Helping ex-offenders to transform their lives
Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “In the next five years we will transform the lives of thousands of Londoners most in need.
“We will give a voice to people who are underrepresented, give independence to those who are held back, and cut the inequality which should not exist in the capital. Working closely with charities we can stay alive to the changing needs of Londoners, strengthen our communities and make this city a fairer place to work and live.”
Bridging Divides is split into three new charity funding programmes – Connecting the Capital, Positive Transitions, and Advice and Support.
- Connecting the Capital will help make London’s communities stronger, more resilient and thriving. Through this programme City Bridge Trust will fund charity programmes including sports and arts projects for people with disabilities, philanthropic giving, and greening and growing projects that bring communities together and improve the local environment
- Positive Transitions grants will be given to charities supporting projects that empower Londoners experiencing inequality to transform their lives. This will include funding for programmes supporting disadvantage young people and support for survivors of domestic abuse, helping Londoners to overcome barriers in their lives.
- Advice and Support funding will give Londoners a safety net against a backdrop of changes to welfare benefits, homelessness, unaffordable housing and the increasing cost of living in London. These will include grants to help the most vulnerable people in society access information and services which give them choices and defend their rights and responsibilities. This funding will support services helping people facing hardship and crisis including debt, unemployment or in-work poverty, social welfare issues or homelessness.
City Bridge Trust will also offer charities more than just funding through its Funder Plus offer. Charities may receive advice on business development, environmental sustainability policies and exit strategy planning. City Bridge Trust will use all of its networks and resources to make its vision for London come to life.
City Bridge Trust makes grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage and inequality across the capital. It has awarded more than 7,700 grants totalling over £370 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.