Building community resilience and grassroots leadership through inclusive grant-giving with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, we ran a grant-giving programme to distribute £20,000 to under-resourced community groups in London for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation.
The goal of the project was to tackle growing health inequalities in Lambeth and Southwark during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the ability of community groups to support their fellow citizens through food banks, shopping and meal deliveries, outreach services and more.
17 community groups consisting of Mutual Aid groups, Tenants and Residents’ Associations and more received £1,000 grants to bolster their emergency relief efforts in their communities.
We worked closely with the Guy’s and St Thomas’ team to identify and support groups that helped marginalised communities, such as those with BAME leaders and beneficiaries, and support areas and estates with fewer established community support groups.
Getting money to groups was hard. It involved a great deal of on-the-ground research, mapping and lots of one-on-one conversations.
Many of the groups we helped would not ordinarily interact with mainstream institutions due to mistrust or power imbalances. They’re also wary of funding with lots of strings attached.
But thanks to our inclusive community organising and movement-building practises and our unique Accountable money management service, we were able to overcome these objections and design a grant-giving programme which was tailored to the needs of grassroots groups.
This project was a massive success.
Many groups were able to keep their doors open as and stave off the risk of closure as a result of the grant funding and our advice.
Some groups were able to buy essential equipment such as fridges and storage facilities to maintain and expand their food banks and soup kitchens.
Plus, many groups were able to expand their services to respond to growing demands from their community in the face of the pandemic.
Photo courtesy of Grey Hutton
“The grant funding helped get our group started. It meant we were able to put some of the basics in place such as our logo and accompanying leaflets which helped us get information about our services [such as our meal deliveries and community wellness and fitness sessions] to our community members. We were able to expand and build from there. As well as the grant funding, the advice and support we received from yourselves [at The Social Change Agency] helped us figure out how to put together a campaign to reach our community members.”