To mark our 30th birthday we held an event focusing on the Charity Mentoring programme we launched last year. Paul Streets, our CEO shared his reflections at the event:
Back To Our Roots
Birthdays are inevitably a time to reflect on where we are in life, what we’ve achieved, and of course to give us a chance to take a look back at where it all began.
In which case we ought to pay homage to 1985; the year the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales – alongside sister Foundations for the rest of the UK – was created, as well of course as the launch of the first mobile phone network and personal computers in the UK, and Live Aid, when music and charity first came together to sear global poverty into public consciousness.
But for a real exploration of our origins as a foundation we must cast our minds back further still, to the beginning of Lloyds Bank back in 1662. It was then that the great great grandfather of the first Lloyd of Lloyds Bank was rotting in gaol because as a Quaker he refused to swear an oath to King Charles II. History tells us that for his crime, Lloyd was ‘put in a low room, with the felons and malefactors in a chamber overhead, their chamber pots and excrements etc falling upon them…’
It was here that he and his wife Elizabeth gave birth to Sampson Lloyd. When Sampson Lloyd was later released he moved to Birmingham and proceeded to set up the largest steel foundry in Britain. And just over a century later, in 1765, his son Sampson Lloyd II, established Lloyds Bank.
This story is worth sharing not just for legacy’s sake but because it tells of life-changing transitions and of someone who became a prisoner of conscience. It strikes a chord with us here at the Foundation as we strive to continue to support charities who focus on helping people break out of disadvantage to make successful transitions to better situations, and do right by as many people as they can.
Small and Medium Sized Charities We’ve Helped Britain Prosper
Whilst an independent charitable trust; with our own strategy and board of trustees, we wholeheartedly share and contribute to the mission of Lloyds Banking Group which is to Help Britain Prosper.
Our contribution is to ensure that those communities and individuals who would otherwise get left behind are supported to have the best chance to prosper. Because we know from the work we fund and support that if you are homeless, tackling mental health issues, drug or alcohol problems, experiencing domestic abuse, if you have just left prison, just left care or are experience domestic violence, and you don’t have the support many of us enjoy, prosperity seems like a distant dream. We know that providing support at that critical moment, when people are seeking help and are striving for a better situation, is the best route to helping them move on in their lives and enabling them to prosper.
We also know that key to leading people out of serious disadvantage, are good, effective small and medium sized local charities, run by local people, bringing together volunteers, other local organisations, services and businesses, to ensure they are in the best position to provide a trusted source of support to people who are neither trusted by, or trusting of society. That’s why over 30 years we’ve supported 42,000 of such small and medium sized charities, investing around £340m and becoming the largest corporate Foundation in the UK.
More than money
Were Sampson Lloyd II here today I think he’d be extremely proud that not only is his bank on every high street, through us its Foundation, we working on every back street in the charities we support.
He’d be doubly proud – as we are – that as well as giving money to support local communities we’ve now created a network of 200 colleagues (and counting!) from Lloyds Banking Group who through our Charity Mentoring Programme are providing additional support to charities by sharing their business expertise, acting as a sounding board and linking in with other staff time and resources. All helping to make charities stronger and more effective in these difficult times.
Charity mentoring has shown that bringing together people from two very different worlds really works. It challenges the stereotypes of what people who work in banks are really like, the stereotypes of why people end up in dire circumstances, and what volunteering is really capable of achieving. Through Charity Mentoring we’ve seen surprised reactions on both sides – from mentors who thought charities would have them painting or gardening, and from charities who were cynical about mentors’ motives.
Mentors I have met have been profoundly inspired by the experiences they’ve had – either because the issues the charity addresses have touched their own lives or the lives of those they love, or just because they can see for the first time that the issues facing the people they’re supporting ‘could happen to me’. Many have commented on how professional the voluntary sector is, delivering great things for people at low cost day in day out.
Charity Mentoring has, we believe, the power to hold a mirror up to others in showing that it’s time to move beyond tired ideas of low value volunteering to a model that really benefits both parties. For ourselves we are looking to expand charity mentoring to ensure that all charities we support who want one can access that support but also to extend the model with mentors connecting specialist support and the time of other colleagues, such as around fundraising, to meet the needs of charities and helping bring them out of the shadows and into the centre of each community where they can be recognised for the vital and life-saving work they do.
30 years in, we can be proud of what we’ve done, but it feels like we’ve got a lot left to do. As we know from our recent research, funding is harder than ever to come by, especially for small and medium sized charities who are primarily funded locally, and yet as public services shrink too, there are more people than ever needing their help. Our birthday is a good moment to acknowledge what has been achieved but also more importantly to reaffirm our commitment to redouble our efforts to provide funding, time, expertise and a voice for those we exist to serve – locally based small and medium sized charities on the frontline of, as our strapline says “breaking disadvantage, bettering lives”.