The UK’s first fund for mutual aid groups

This blog is written by Eda Tajuddin, Programme Manager, The Social Change Nest.

The Social Change Nest and The Changing Ideas Foundation are proud to open the UK’s first Mutual Aid Fund.  

The pandemic saw a surge in mutual aid groups as communities came together to support those in need. This was unsurprising, since mutual aid groups are often able to move quickly, understand their community’s needs and leverage local resources. However, as we emerge from the height of the pandemic, many mutual aid groups in the UK are facing a difficult transition. Whilst the need for these groups is still high (just look at the cost of living crisis), communities’ needs are shifting, which means mutual aid groups are having to adapt. And yet it’s incredibly difficult to think about restructuring or a long-term strategy when you’re still in survival mode, and even more challenging when your group members are already burnt-out and what limited funding opportunities you had access to have disappeared. This is where the Mutual Aid Fund comes in. The Social Change Nest is proud to be partnering with The Changing Ideas Foundation to give out grants of up to £5,000 to mutual aid groups in the UK who are struggling with this transition. 

Mutual aid and other hyper local community groups are a vital yet vastly under-supported part of civil society. This is in large part due to the fact that they are unincorporated groups and so lack the formal infrastructure or registration that makes them easily accessible to larger foundations. By partnering with The Social Change Nest, who fiscally host these groups, mutual aid groups and other grassroots groups are able to safely and transparently receive formal funds. We also support groups with their administrative burden so they can focus on making change in their communities. The Social Change Nest has been running since the beginning of COVID-19 (we incorporated as a Community Interest Company in 2020) and since then, we have supported over 300 groups and helped channel over £3.5 million into the hands of those who need it. 

Enabling grassroots and distributed networks of changemakers has been a long term vision of ours. After years of providing practical support as The Social Change Agency and as part of movements ourselves, we saw time and time again that groups would hit a wall at a certain stage of development that required increased levels of resources to sustain, scale, or innovate. The Social Change Nest was born out of that experience. We wanted to provide a service to changemakers that did not force them to compromise their values, collective leadership, nimble ways of working, nor accountability. Now, thanks to Changing Ideas, we have been able to work with members of mutual aid groups to design a fund that can support the Mutual Aid Movement in the UK, as and how they need it. The Social Change Nest is on a mission to transform the funding landscape so funders can support frontline social action – this Mutual Aid Fund is just the beginning. 

So if you are a mutual aid group, please take a look at our fund here – you’ll be able to find everything you need to know (eligibility, timeline etc.). Once you’re ready, follow this link to apply. And if you’re not sure whether you’re a mutual aid group, check out our eligibility criteria – you might surprise yourself. 

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