Paul Streets: Charity leaders must take care of their mental health

The double jeopardy of rising demand for services and falling budgets means the pressures can be long-term and chronic, writes Paul Streets, chief executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales.

Staff Photo - Paul Streets

Much has been written recently about how to cope with the acute demands of a crisis and its toll on our health and wellbeing. But as the useful Charity Comms advice says, the greater impact comes from the long-term pressure faced by charity leaders across the sector.

Although the guide is catered to comms in a digitally connected world, these long-term pressures are faced by professionals across the sector. This is perhaps particularly relevant for leaders of small charities, where the pressures seem chronic and relentless, as we know from our analysis of the hundreds of reports we receive. Many face the double jeopardy of rising and more complex demands and falling budgets.

I hear this every time I speak to charity leaders enrolled in the School for Social Entrepreneurs programme. Each year, we offer 40 charity leaders a place on an eight-day programme focused on leadership, governance and sustainability. Each year I speak about leadership to the cohort of charity leaders and hear about their own struggles and frustrations. Many of the same problems keep propping up, from isolation to funding.

For small charities in particular, the enduring worry of whether they can balance the books as they wait to see whether the current grant, funding or contract bid has been successful. Often the news arrives so near the end of the last funding that staff are placed “at risk” to give the required notice, which is distressing for those on the receiving and the “giving” end.

Many talk about the agony, pressure and sheer guilt that come from knowing that the demand at their door far exceeds their organisational capacity. Invariably it means they try to do more, working longer hours for less. I find myself sagely advising that they should say no, which is of course easy to say in the comfort of a group of peers, but harder to say when faced with real people.

And yet it’s true of all of us in the sector. None of us can meet that demand. That’s why all of us should consider the balance between time spent delivering and time spent trying to use that experience to advocate for others to act with us.

It’s little wonder then that we have had a growing need for support around health and wellbeing at work at the Lloyds Bank Foundation. This demand was highlighted recently by Mind with its excellent material on better health at work, fantastically segmented by sector, managerial or operational level, size of organisation and whether home, office or remotely based. Here is the section for office based chief executives of charities with 10-50 staff.

Alongside this we have just entered into a partnership with Bird, which focuses on building resilience in charities. As well as its coaching and training, it offers tips on when to spot the warning signs of pressures at work.

Some are self-explanatory: stockpiling; numbing; bouncing; “I’m fine”. But the one that most intrigued me was “chandeliering”. I gather it refers to “hitting the roof” at what seems to be the slightest thing, whereas in reality it’s often a result of systematically burying any negative feelings or stress to try to maintain control.

So if any of you are experiencing these symptoms and find yourself swinging from the chandeliers, help and advice is at hand to get you down.

Be good to yourself and those around you.

The NHS won’t achieve the mental health revolution without the support of small charities

Claire Murdoch, NHS National Director for Mental Health, shares her vision for the future of mental health – a future in which the NHS and local partners work hand in hand to ensure people with mental health issues get the best care possible, as close to home as possible.

DSC_0096_Edited 2

Over 35 years I have had the privilege of working with so many impressive people and organisations dedicating their time and energy to making a difference to the lives of people with mental health issues. I have seen how small charities have been fighting against stigma, loneliness and lack of resources for decades. Today, I am so proud of the mental health revolution we are conducting together throughout England – a revolution that wouldn’t have happened without the support of our partners working tirelessly on the ground. On World Mental Health Day, I want to pay tribute to their dedication and thank them for their continued support.

It is an exciting time for our sector: the NHS Long Term Plan has committed a new ringfenced local investment fund worth at least £2.3 billion a year in real terms by 2023/24 to ensure that the NHS provides high quality, evidence-based mental health services to an additional two million people. We have been working in close partnership with stakeholders all over the country to decide what this extra money should be used for – and where it could make the most difference.

Last year we called on our partners for recommendations, and received contributions from more than 150 organisations, representing the voices of over 27,000 people. I was really impressed by the engagement of the sector, which supported us in developing ambitious plans for mental health. We published these plans over the summer and are now already working hard to make them a reality.

I often say that the NHS won’t achieve the mental health revolution by itself; we can’t deliver our plans without the support of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. We need to reinforce the links between charities and our services at the local level to achieve our ambitious objectives.

One of these objectives is to transform community mental health in the next five years. After decades of under-investment and increased pressures on our services, we want to ensure that people with moderate to severe mental health issues get the best care possible, as close to home as possible. We recently announced new funding to pilot integrated models of care with GP surgeries, mental health services and local partners working together to give personalised mental health care and advice to people who most need it.

In addition, funding has also been made available to all local health systems in the country to increase provision of non-medical, community-based alternatives to A&E and hospital for those experiencing mental health crisis. These services are often provided in partnership with the voluntary sector and help to ensure we can meet local need in an effective and timely manner.

I encourage local mental health and wellbeing charities to take part in these programmes to support the much-needed transformation of mental health outlined in the Long Term Plan.

I look forward to meeting representatives of small charities at Lloyds Bank Foundation on Friday 11 October, and to discussing our plans for the next five years. I am interested in hearing new ideas on how we can better coordinate our efforts with the VSCE sector to deliver meaningful change for people with mental health issues all over the country. I am also keen to understand how smaller charities can be supported to do more. Often run by local communities, they are one of the best ways to help challenge stigma and inequalities.

Are you ready for the new 2019 Data Protection law?

Mark Burnett, CEO of data protection organisation Hope and May, writes what small and local charities might need to do to make sure they are compliant with GDPR rules in the event of a No-Deal Brexit. Read his blog below: 


john-cameron-WK0Feb8vafE-unsplashJust when you thought you had done all you needed to do about data protection, you should brace yourself as there are further changes just around the corner.

In the event of a No-Deal-Brexit, the Government has prepared new legislation which it has called the Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation 2019. Yes, we are going to have our own version of the existing EU GDPR to ensure we can continue to process data separately from our Continental neighbours after we leave.

The processing of data of UK citizens will be largely unaffected. As a small charity, you may need to make some technical amendments to your current policies and, of course, the mandatory requirement to ensure that UK-based data subjects are aware of such change. However, there are far reaching consequences if you process the data of any European citizens.

The main issue that many organisations may not have considered is something called Adequacy. The EU Commission awards an Adequacy Decision to countries that are considered a safe haven for personal data, places that are considered to have a high standard of human rights, maintain political stability and have appointed supervisory authorities to regulate data processing and uphold high standards of privacy.

The UK, currently benefits from an Adequacy Decision, as do all other EU states as well as Switzerland, Canada and Japan amongst a few others. This important stamp of approval ensures the free flow of data in a similar way to the free flow of people. It fuels trade and relinquishes organisations from the burden of red tape and the cost of implementing legally binding alternatives.

If we leave the EU without a deal, we will automatically lose our Adequacy as a non-EU country. We’ll apply to get it back, of course, but these negotiations can only begin after we have left. This means that for the foreseeable future we will become a Third Country for data protection purposes and not considered adequate for processing non-UK citizen’s data.

The remedy will be a range of interim Safeguards designed to protect non-UK citizens and their data. These include things called Model Clauses and Data Sharing Agreements. The paradox is that although the UK has stated that all EU countries will be recognised on the 1st November as Adequate from its viewpoint, the EU have not reciprocated. In simple terms this means that you could send data from the UK to an EU state country such as France, but they would be breaking the law if they returned it to you.

Although the UK currently enjoys Adequacy, it doesn’t automatically mean we will regain our status and certainly not in the near future. There are hoops to jump through which is why it took Japan almost ten years to achieve theirs.

One problem concerns our surveillance laws. We have laws to enable our Government to snoop on us whenever it has a perceived need. So does the U.S. but Europe however doesn’t and has long criticised such intrusive measures. It is anticipated that the EU will pressure the UK Government to change such laws amongst other requirements, in return for an Adequacy Decision. We will watch with interest as this develops over time.

For a small charity, there are a few recommendations.

  • Firstly, make sure that any existing policies are updated in accordance with the UK GDPR requirements.
  • Review the current case for processing to include, the condition you are using (consent for example), ability to uphold data subject rights (such as the Right to be Forgotten) and principles of the law (for example, data retention) to ensure compliance is maintained.
  • Lastly, make sure your staff and volunteers are aware of their obligations to security and data sharing, and consider some training.

Regardless of Brexit, a recent survey by IT Governance revealed some startling facts about UK organisations and their compliance with Data Protection law. It reported that 79% of organisations are not compliant and fall short of their obligations. Unfortunately, smaller charities with less resource are more likely to fall into this category. It seems this isn’t about an unwillingness to comply, but more about a lack of awareness.

The research seems to suggest that in contrast to the high number of non-complaint organisations, only 25% of those questioned said they felt their knowledge of the GDPR could be improved. This reveals a stark truth that most organisations are seemingly unaware of their legal responsibilities and remain vulnerable to enforcement action and reputational damage.

Although most organisations wrote a policy or two last year, they haven’t fully implemented those policies into everyday business life. The Information Commissioner has been loud and clear about this in recent times. She said that there is little or no evidence that organisations are Accountable for their processing of personal data, even though this is a mandatory requirement of the GDPR Article 5(2). Therefore, it is clear that there is still much work to be done and that compliance is a journey and certainly not a destination.

Paul Streets: Diversity must be driven by those people we help

For equality, diversity and inclusion to be meaningful, it should run right through a charity’s approach and outlook.


As a sector we have rightly turned the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion spotlight on ourselves and been found wanting. Various commentators and organisations – including the Association of Charitable Foundations – have pointed to the lack of diversity on the boards of trusts and foundations; and concerns have been raised about the make-up of panels at sector conferences and, more broadly, about the lack of diversity at senior levels in the sector.

But if we look only at what is visible, we see only the tip of the Iceberg. Although what we ‘see’ matters we must focus on ensuring it affects what we ‘do’.

At Lloyds bank Foundation, we recently defined our own commitment to addressing inequalities and promoting greater diversity and inclusion in work, how we do it and how we communicate. We believe that to do this effectively we need to ensure our approach is grounded in the experiences, concerns and challenges of the charities we support and the people they reach.

As part of our journey, we spoke to Alison Moore, chief executive at Refugee Women Connect (RWC), one of our partner charities. It supports women asylum seekers and refugees to help bring about social justice and equality to some of the most vulnerable in society. Moore shared her thoughts on what EDI means to them.

She told us that creating a women-only safe space to begin the process of getting help is essential to RWC. “A concern for us is the wider dispersal that now takes place, meaning asylum seekers will be moved to areas outside of main cities with no support or specialist service providers, putting them at further disadvantage,” says Moore. In response, the charity has expanded its reach and the support it offers in response.

It also gains the input of its service users, some of whom regularly volunteer and provide suggestions for service development. Last year, RWC employed two previous service users who received their status and recently both staff and service users attended the ‘All Women Count’ lobby in Parliament together.

Moore says they found the experience really empowering. “This isn’t just about us as an organisation working to bring about change, but also to create a movement for women refugees and asylum seekers to be part of the debate, to lead on the discussion and to have the tools and resources to fight for their equality,” Moore adds.

Her reflections demonstrate that for EDI to be meaningful, it should run right through a charity’s approach and outlook. It’s also key to improving services.

The women at RWC need more than a women-only space to feel safe: they need the support of a charity that understands and responds to the cross section of the issues they face. The lesson to us all is that it’s not enough to just have the right people in the right places: we must respond to, and be driven by, the needs of those we exist for.

That’s quite a journey for charitable trusts and foundations that often embody the power and privilege of society’s structural inequalities.  But we’re beginning by looking to many of those we fund as exemplars of what it should mean. We hope they hold us to account when we miss the mark.

Lloyds Scholar Beulah: ‘The Foundation does so much more than just award grants’

file (2)
Lloyds Scholar Beulah Amponsa

Beulah Amponsa is a Lloyds Scholar – a unique social mobility programme run by Lloyds Banking Group which partners with leading universities across the UK. It offers students from lower income households a complete package of financial support, at least one paid internship, a business mentor and the opportunity to develop their employability skills, boosting future career prospects.

Beulah recently finished a 10-week placement with Lloyds Bank Foundation. Read her blog below:


When I found out that I would be interning with the Foundation, I wasn’t too sure what it would involve and the full extent of what they did. I thought that the Foundation was just another division of the bank and that they just give grants to charities.

This might be a common misconception among the general public who are not involved in the sector. Despite having explained it to interns and family members, some didn’t understand what the Foundation does or how integral their role is in the charity sector.

It has now been 10 weeks and I am grasping how crucial the role of the Foundation is in allowing charities to thrive and continue to do the work that they are doing.

So many of the charities that the Foundation aims to support are ones that tackle complex issues that have a substantial impact to those affected and their wider peer groups.

The Foundation continues to enable those working to overcome these issues to make a difference in their communities by putting the needs of these charities at the centre of its work.

I don’t know much about other grant makers, but I know that the amazing work the Foundation does means it can do even more than award grants. They also develop charities beyond covering costs; giving charities the opportunity to gain access to expert Lloyds Banking Group employees, developing their work and boosting their income streams with a view to making small and local charities sustainable.

Whilst here, I conducted research into the attitudes and preferences of Generation Z and  small and medium charities (SMCs), wrote a report and presented my findings. So, in 10 weeks, I have become a researcher, interviewer, survey creator and presenter. I had never done any of those things before this placement.

I have found out that awareness of SMCs is needed among Generation Z but even though that is the case, Gen Z still show an interest in supporting charities in their local communities. Money might not be something they have a lot of, but they do want to give; if not money, then time and they want to give in a way that is convenient and impactful.

My project has given me the opportunity to learn more about my generation, share my learning with others and contribute to the work of the Foundation, the Banking Group and charities.

‘Grantmakers need to be flexible to better support small and local charities’


Research & Learning Manager for Lloyds Bank Foundation, Alex Van Vliet, reflects on how grantmakers can improve monitoring and reporting to better support small and medium charities.

Running a small charity can feel like a constant balancing act of competing demands and spinning plates. The investment and support of a funder can help, but we can also hinder. Too often our approach to reporting and monitoring become yet another thing to worry about on an ever-growing to-do list.

Last year Lloyds Bank Foundation joined a group of grant-making foundations and grant-funded charities over a series of workshops to think critically about how grant monitoring and reporting works – or sometimes doesn’t. Does it drive accountability? Does it incentivise learning and improvement?

After some candid and challenging discussions, we agreed six principles to make reporting more meaningful and – hopefully –  mutually beneficial:

  1. Funders must explain why they have awarded a grant
  2. Funders and funded organisations are clear about what grant reporting will look like
  3. Funders are clear about the type of relationship they would like to have with the organisations they fund
  4. Funders only ask for information they need and use, and question whether they need bespoke reporting
  5. Funders give feedback on any grant reporting they receive and share their thoughts on the progress of the work
  6. Funders describe what they do with the information they obtain from funded organisations

Signing up to these principles was a timely prompt for the Foundation to reflect on our processes. Do they live up to our values as a grantmaker, to be a partner to the charities we fund?

Staff Photo - Alex VV
Research & Learning Manager for Lloyds Bank Foundation, Alex Van Vliet 

Under our new strategy, we made some significant changes to the way we ask charities to report each year. We started by reducing the amount of bespoke reporting we ask of grantees, instead focusing only on asking them how they have progressed against the objectives they themselves set. We want our monitoring to be based on the same management data that charities use to track their impact or report to their board: measure once, report twice.

In taking this approach we want to recognise each charity we fund tackles a complex social issue in their own way, and our monitoring approach has to value that difference. For example, we know that many of our grantees seek to support people into safe and suitable housing. The way they do that, however, can be as varied as our 700 grantees. For instance:

  • Providing victims of domestic abuse with immediate emergency refuge accommodation
  • Training young people with learning disabilities to learn the skills they need to live independently and sustain a tenancy
  • Providing people moving from rough sleeping into temporary accommodation with the practical support they need to apply for private tenancies

Any one of these would be considered a good outcome for housing – but will be defined, measured and reported in a different way. Being flexible on measurement approaches doesn’t mean that we’re compromising our standards – we set firm thresholds for our outcomes framework. In taking this approach, we are seeking to balance focus on the long-term goal with an open mind on how that might be achieved. In other words, we’re measurement pluralists.

The small and local charities we fund get this implicitly – responding to local context and local need with local knowledge in their DNA.

The small and local charities we fund get this implicitly – responding to local context and local need with local knowledge in their DNA. A charity housing rough sleepers in Doncaster shouldn’t look the same to a charity housing rough sleepers in Dagenham.

To me, this speaks to a broader point about the role of charities in social change. To value civil society – the belief that charities and the voluntary sector can help make change happen in the world – is to recognise we can elicit change in different ways. In other words, we’re change pluralists.


Working with Coronation Street and Hollyoaks to break the silence

DC SW and Cast

Duncan Craig, Chief Executive Officer of Survivors Manchester, writes how his charity is helping to reach out to survivors of male sexual abuse through working with the makers of Coronation Street and Hollyoaks. Producers from both primetime television programmes, watched by millions across the UK, have been working on powerful, groundbreaking storylines in recent years which have helped to break the silence on male sexual abuse. Lloyds Bank Foundation has been supporting the charity since 2017 and awarded its most recent grant worth £40k in February. 

Five years ago, Survivors Manchester worked with production company Lime Pictures and Channel 4 to tell a ground-breaking story on long-running soap Hollyoaks about the rape of one of its characters, John Paul McQueen. While Hollyoaks did cover male sexual abuse in 2002, that was in a late night special whereas this was going to be broadcast in the primetime 6.30pm slot.

No one could have predicted what would have come from that partnership, especially the Government’s announcement of the first ever Male Rape Support fund. I guess in some way we contributed to changing a small corner of the earth.

The relationship with Hollyoaks and its makers, Lime Pictures, remained firm and they were always on call to help us out with raising awareness of the issues affecting male survivors of sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation. In fact the actor who played John Paul, James Sutton, became one of our amazing ambassadors and has been a huge supporter of ours over the years.

Working on and being connected to such a powerful story helped Survivors Manchester stick in people’s minds. A few years later the Executive Producer of Coronation Street made contact and asked to meet. One meeting turned into another, a presentation at a story and script conference followed and the result was the incredibly powerful story of the rape of David Platt at the hands of Corrie newcomer Josh Tucker. This storyline touched a nerve with audiences. After the show was broadcast, National Male Survivor Helpline saw a 1700% increase in calls. Our charity also saw a 64% increase in direct requests for support.

The development of David’s story was influenced in part by the real life experience of another of our ambassadors, Sam. Together we read through and commented on scripts, talked to writers, worked with cast members and directors, and ended up in front of many cameras and journalists ourselves as the press took hold of the story.

Seeing the input we had come to life in the longest running soap in the world was incredible but it was the personal stories of men breaking their silence directly because of what they’ve seen on their television screens that we received on social media, on email and even from people directly that had the biggest impact on us as individuals. For me, as a male survivor who set up and now runs a male survivor organisation, whose first ‘proper job’ 26 years earlier was on Coronation Street felt like something had come full circle. 26 years previously I WAS the silent survivor at Coronation Street and now 26 years later I AM the vocal survivor helping Coronation Street tell a story that is helping men break their silence. I get goose bumps just writing that.

Similarly, when I talk about the next story we worked with our friends at Hollyoaks, I get shivers of pride. Their Exec Producer had been so inspired by seeing the Crewe and Man City ex-footballers stand outside court as paedophile Barry Bennell was convicted of numerous counts of sexually abusing boys during his reign as a professional football coach that he felt he needed to do something. I had seen the same footballers appear on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme and talk about their experiences in a way I’d never heard before. I was so inspired by one of those men, Steve Walters, that I reached out to offer my hand of support and he returned the offer becoming another of our ambassadors. Steve stated publicly on numerous occasions times the writers got it so right that it felt like he was reading parts of his life story. The #BreakTheSilence football abuse storyline we developed and that played out on Hollyoaks was not only a massive hit with audiences but won numerous awards. But possibly the most important part of that whole process was that we managed to get the first ever ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor) role shown on a soap. That meant that so many more survivors themselves better understood the type of support that is available to them from when they report abuse to the police through to appearing at court.

I was once asked what was the point of getting involved in these dramas and shouldn’t I focus my attention on services? But the simple answer is this is me drawing attention to services. I’m helping storytellers tell stories that show the public what help is available and that male survivors exist. I want to empower male survivors out there who are watching these shows to break the silence.

We will continue to help these stories be told and just recently ITV announced a new story was in development with Survivors Manchester which we’re incredibly excited about.

If we’re going to change the world for male survivors, we need to first change the view the world has about male survivors. A big thank you to long-running soaps like Coronation Street and Hollyoaks because they give us the platform to challenge perceptions, reach new audiences and help break the silence.