Report of the Acting Strategic Director, Communities and Environment
The Committee received a report to provide details of the variety of funding programmes that are available to provide financial assistance available to community and voluntary sector groups in Gateshead.
Representatives from three organisations were also in attendance to provide the Committee with an update on activities and support available through their respective organisations, these were: The National Lottery Community Fund, The Ballinger Charitable Trust and The Community Fund.
From the presentation the Committee were advised that The Community Foundation (Tyne and Wear and Northumberland) is arguably the biggest and best organisation of its kind in the UK, and part of a national and global movement that started in 1914 that matches generous people to important causes in the community.
The following was also highlighted:
• Each year hundreds of grants are awarded to small charities across NE England, through funds set up by numerous donors.
• It also seeks to encourage greater investment in the region by national funders and help broker relationships between community organisations and people wishing to donate time and expertise.
• It has four identified priorities: Poverty, mental health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion and funding “cold spots” where funding is scarce.
• From September 2016 394 grants (totalling £1.54m, ranging from £200-£35,000) have been awarded in Gateshead.
• The median annual grant size for Gateshead over the last 3 years was £3,916: markedly lower than for Newcastle (£5,396) or Sunderland (£4,300)..
• The Foundation will try to:
o Work with donors to prioritise Gateshead.
o Use its discretionary funds to target Gateshead as a “cold spot”.
o Encourage more and better applications through building the capacity of Gateshead’s VCS and increasing the level of access to Community Foundation funds.
The Committee were advised that The Ballinger Charitable Trust is a small family run Trust that invests in small local projects and charitable causes in the North East. From their presentation, the following was highlighted:
• It has a simple and easy online application process for its main grants programme (up to £5,000) with priorities around young people and older people.
• Grants will cover most costs, including core costs.
• It collaborates with other charities and funding partners on larger projects.
• It has recently piloted two smaller community level micro grant programmes in Chopwell and Bensham and Saltwell which involved meeting project leads as they pitched for small amounts of funding (circa £500 maximum).
• The Trust values personal engagement and relationships with applicants recognising the need for support and encouragement and helps the Trust gain a better understanding of community needs.
• The Trust understands the burdens on VCS organisations and recognises the need to do things differently by simplifying its funding programmes to reduce bureaucracy and complexity – placing fewer demands on applicants.
• It understands that better use of data, appropriate targeting of (ever reducing) resources and effective collaboration would increase the potential impact in Gateshead.
From the presentation, the Committee were also advised that The National Lottery Community Fund (previously Big Lottery) is a national distributor of funds raised by players of the National Lottery. The following points were highlighted from their presentation:
• £8.6 million has been invested in Gateshead over the past five years (including £557,376 Awards for All, £3.8 million Reaching Communities and £3.5 million other programmes).
• The organisation has recently introduced a dedicated North East and Cumbria hub and a team of local funding officers facilitating improved flexibility, local knowledge and funding decisions.
• A simpler guidance and processes has been implemented for its three major programmes – Awards for All, Reaching Communities and Partnerships funding – with priorities to support building stronger relationships in communities, shared and sustainable places and spaces (places that matter locally) and early action to prevent problems and tackle disadvantage (addressing problems at the earliest possible stage).
• The application process is predominantly online but can be hard copies can be made available if necessary.
• National Lottery Awards for All offers up to £10,000 in one year for smaller grassroots VCS organisations and larger organisations that are valued by their communities – it will fund one off activities or test new ideas and applications welcomed at any time throughout the year.
The Committee thanked the representatives for their presentations and welcomed the changes being implemented to make grant funding applications more streamlined and simpler.
It was asked whether The Community Foundation do outreach work in the borough to source potential donors. It was stated that outreach work is carried out but that Gateshead is a ‘cold spot’ area for donors but it was acknowledged there are pockets of wealth in Northumberland and Newcastle. It was further noted that there is funding available without a donor being attached which can also be accessed.
A comment was made noting that online applications and systems can be difficult to navigate for many people; it was acknowledged by each organisation that this process can be daunting but that staff are always on hand to provide support if needed. The Committee also highlighted their gratitude to the Council’s Neighbourhood Management Team who have provided support to Councillors on funding and applications in the past.
(i) The Committee considered and noted the contents of the report.