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Small charities in the North West at risk of crisis, warns major UK funder
Charities across the North of England and Midlands win award to receive business coaching and mentoring
The winners of an award that will see charities across the North of England and Midlands being mentored and coached by senior business leaders are being revealed today. The Garfield Weston Foundation expanded the Weston Charity Awards to reach more organisations after the programme of funding and strategic support proved successful after first being launched in the North East.
The Foundation says the response from charities across the North West, the North East, Yorkshire and the Midlands has been exceptional. The announcement of the award winners comes as the Foundation reveal that only a quarter of charities are applying for funding for core costs, putting charities and their services at risk.
The Garfield Weston Foundation’s Director, Philippa Charles, says:
“Our job is to support charities to become more resilient and sustainable so that they can do more of their excellent work – that’s why we launched the Weston Charity Awards. Yet, we were shocked to find that only 25% of charities applying to us ask for funding for core costs. Supporting the running costs of a charity is crucial if we are to avoid charities experiencing a slow decline. Charities tell us they are too afraid to ask for this sort of funding for fear of being turned down. Having supported thousands of charities over the last 60 years, we know how important it is that charities feel able to apply for this sort of funding so that they can continue to deliver great services.”
The awards come at a time when charities are seeing demand for their services increase while budgets are being cut and small charities’ income is falling. According to research by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) around 60,000 organisations (37%) are running without any reserves.1
Mike Wild, CEO of Macc (Manchester Community Central) says:
“I am delighted to see Garfield Weston and Pilotlight working in this way to invest in the strength and capability of local charities. It’s important to recognise that charities are at heart focused on tackling deep-rooted inequalities, and that they have to do so in a funding environment which is all too often short-term, limited in that it just focuses on projects and is generally hostile to investment in the charity as an organisation. Increasingly, charities are working harder and harder simply to keep the doors open, burning through their limited resources in order to meet increased demand. That cannot last forever.
“So it’s especially welcome to see a funder recognise the value providing much needed stability to enable to the charity to focus on long term planning and delivering brilliant services. So I congratulate all the winners and Garfield Weston and Pilotlight for showing leadership in shaping this programme to strengthen the enormous impact made by so many unsung heroes in local charities.”
The Wellspring in Stockport is a charity that supports local people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Its project manager, Jonathan Billings, says being chosen as a winner of the Weston Charity Awards couldn’t have come at a better time:
“We would like to have more staff in place and to develop an outreach service. However, funding for core costs, such as staffing and building costs, is increasingly difficult to obtain. We really want to create a business plan and to find a way forward for us to be more sustainable and less reliant on fundraising, such as by getting a social enterprise off the ground. I think the opportunity to work with Pilotlight is going to be very helpful.”
Pilotlight’s chief executive, Gillian Murray, says:
“For most small charities it is vital to have a solid plan in place to be stronger and more resilient organisations in today’s challenging environment. Having worked with hundreds of charities we know that being able to partner with a team of dynamic business leaders means that they can develop their leadership skills and plan strategically to achieve long-term sustainability. Former award winners report that they feel better equipped and more confident to face the future, especially as they continue to see demand for their services increase.”
The 16 winning charities will receive their awards in a celebration event being held today [Thursday 9 June] at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum.
Having expanded the awards to reach charities across the North of England and the Midlands, the Garfield Weston Foundation hopes the awards might develop further and reach more areas of the UK.
Case Study: The Wellspring – simple measures have effective results for Stockport’s homeless population
No day is ever the same at The Wellspring in Stockport. With between 100 and 150 people coming through the doors each day, the 250 volunteers and five staff could find themselves dealing with any manner of situation, from homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction to relationship problems and debt.
“The needs of the people coming through the door evolve and change all the time,” says Jonathan Billings, project manager at the charity. “Ten years ago it was mainly men aged over 40 who were using us, now it’s mainly young people.”
In addition to the changing demographic, there has been a considerable increase in the numbers of people using The Wellspring over the last three years. In 2013 for example, 149 people presented as street homeless. By 2015 this had risen to 392. Meanwhile, over the same period, the number of people accessing housing advice had grown by 385%.
“Sometimes the issues that have made someone homeless are very easy to fix – it’s about claiming the right benefit, putting them in touch with the right people, ticking boxes on forms. But if these simple things are not done, the situation can very quickly spiral out of control and the homeless person can find themselves involved in crime and drugs,” says Jonathan.
One of Jonathan’s main jobs as project manager is to make sure that staff are up-to-date on all the latest developments within housing, government policy etc, and that they know what services are available in the local area, which includes providing as much training as possible. He is also concerned with ensuring the charity has access to valuable resources because “without the extra staff we wouldn’t be able to see people”.
“The vast majority of income comes through our fundraising events. We used to have lots of trust funding but it’s harder and harder to come by for ongoing costs. It can be easier to get funding if you want to decorate a room or you need new equipment, but funding for core costs, such as staffing and building costs is increasingly difficult to obtain,” he says, adding how this impacts on the ability of the charity to reach all those that need it.
“We would like to have more staff in place and to develop an outreach service so we can go out on the streets and find people. It’s extremely rare that someone presents on the day they have been made homeless. They are usually homeless for several months before they find us. We want to get to these people much earlier.”
It is for this reason that The Wellspring applied to the Weston Charity Awards.
“We really want to create a business plan and to find a way forward for us to be more sustainable and less reliant on fundraising, such as by getting a social enterprise off the ground. I am also looking forward to some advice and support regarding the structure of the organisation. For example, our team deal with people who are dying, or have taken drugs overdoses or have been raped, and I am sure there is more we could do to help give our staff better supervision and guidance.”
He adds: “I think the opportunity to work with Pilotlight is going to be very helpful. We are excited about change and welcome it. This could give us a whole new sense of direction that could put us on the map, and enable us to keep our services fresh and relevant for those who are coming through the door.”
Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making trust and still run by the Weston family. Since it was established in 1958 the Foundation has given over £900 million to charities across the UK. In the last year alone the Foundation donated over £58 million. From small community groups to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of organisations and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work. Over 1,800 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants.
Pilotlight is a unique charity that has been connecting the business and charitable worlds for over ten years, to make both more effective. The Pilotlight Programme is about coaching charity and social enterprise leaders to develop their business skills, strengthen their organisation and increase its impact. After a year working with Pilotlight, our partner organisations report a positive impact on key indicators such as strategic vision, financial management and board effectiveness.
The Pilotlight Programme enables executives to develop their leadership skills outside of their usual environment. They coach charities, collaborate with other business executives, stretch their skills and broaden their perspectives.
Since 2003 Pilotlight has worked with over 500 charities and social enterprises and more than 1000 business leaders. For more information please visit: www.pilotlight.org.uk.
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