Today we celebrate the UK’s first ever Local Charities Day, a day applauding the dedication and commitment of small, local organisations that make a real difference to our communities. Grant Manager for North East, Cumbria & North Yorkshire Louise Telford talks about her experiences of working with one such charity and why we support local charities every day.
Carlisle Key staff with Carlisle United Football Club players (CUFC). Carlisle Key were CUFC’s official charity partner in 2015/16.
At Lloyds Bank Foundation, we know that small and medium-sized charities play an important role in tackling disadvantage in local communities. With more than 30 years’ experience of working with small charities, we’ve learnt that to be an effective foundation we need to build collaborative relationships with the charities we fund. Small charities need more than just a cheque and we’re always looking for ways we can effectively support them.
As a Grant Manager, I spend a lot of time with charity staff and trustees, and over many cups of tea we work together to identify organisational needs. I then consider what support we, as a Foundation, can give.
One local charity I’ve worked closely with recently is Carlisle Key, a small organisation in Cumbria with a great team that supports homeless young people to secure a home and then assists them to live independently in the community.
Together with staff, we identified the need to record evidence about the difference their services make to young people and we funded Carlisle Key to introduce the ‘outcomes star’ – a way to track impact. The charity also felt it needed to communicate better with stakeholders and young people so we funded Good Things Foundation to provide social media training. I am pleased to say Carlisle Key is now active and increasing its reach on Twitter and Facebook.
One of the most effective ways I have found that I can add value to charities is by opening up my contacts book. When Carlisle Key was planning its first accommodation scheme, I was able to link it to another charity running a similar scheme. The two organisations met and shared ideas and Carlisle Key has been able to avoid project pitfalls at an early stage. Later on, a chance meeting I had with a City Council Officer which led to Carlisle Key getting practical support from the Council. I was also able to recommend a good charity consultant I’d previously worked with.
Clare Brockie, Project Manager at Carlisle Key, explains: “The support we have received from Lloyds Bank Foundation has been outstanding. We have really appreciated Louise’s contacts and her ideas about how to make the organisation stronger. Due to her recommendations we have implemented the IT package Inform to monitor our activities with the ‘outcome star’ embedded into our systems, it is now far easier for us to report and evaluate our services.”
At the start of a working relationship with a charity it’s hard to know what support will make the most difference. I can only do my job effectively if I know what the charity needs and this only happens if I spend time with them, getting to know the organisation and building trust with the staff. Informal support can have just as big an impact as formal support. In this role it’s important to recognise the value of a chat, a cuppa and a good contacts book.
Over the last two years, I’ve had the privilege to work with so many inspiring staff, volunteers and trustees, and spending time with people who use the services that charities offer has been so valuable to my work.
From everyone at the foundation, we’d like to thank local charities across England and Wales. You’re doing a fantastic job and we’re proud to support you, not just on Local Charities Day, but every day.
Louise works with many local charities in the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire including Grange Day Centre. You can follow Louise on Twitter at @LouiseMarie14 where she tweets about her work and her love of the North of England!