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.

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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.

Ask A Grant Manager – October 2019

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David Vincent – Grant Manager for the South East

David Vincent is our Grant Manager for the South East. He joined us in May 2019 after working in the grantmaking world for a good number of years. Before joining Lloyds Bank Foundation, he was Grants Manager with a local Trust in Islington and has previously worked with BBC Children in Need and with Tearfund.

“It’s such a privilege to be able to work with and get to know the charities the Foundation funds and supports. In my role at the Foundation, I’m continually motivated and inspired by the people I meet who are doing incredible things, often in difficult circumstances. I really enjoy working with charities to help them to develop and improve their practice and maximise their impact.”

In his spare time, David is also a trustee of a children’s charity in East London.


How does a grant manager determine that an applicant agency meets “It is holistic in nature and based upon a person-centred approach. The individual will have been assessed and their needs identified, with a plan of support put in place”.

In our current strategy Reaching Further, we’ve set out to support charities working to address at least one of the 11 complex social issues we fund. Someone experiencing a complex social issue will most likely have a wide range of needs beyond that which they are presenting with which, if not addressed, may undermine any progress made in another aspect of their life. To make a real positive difference in the life of that individual we believe you need to consider them as a ‘whole’. This might typically start by building a relationship and an understanding of their circumstances and then working together with them to help to address their needs.

We appreciate that any single charity or service can’t be expected to provide a one-stop-shop covering all possible client/service user needs, but we will look for evidence that they are working intensively with service users on an individual basis and not just offering generic activities. Where a client has a particular need, which is beyond the expertise of the charity to provide, then we expect them to be able to demonstrate good links with other relevant services and referral partners.

My colleague Ella previously gave a great example of how all this might look in practice:

“For example, a homelessness charity might see that a service user also mentions relationship, debt, mental health and dependency problems. We’d be looking to see how the charity helps to address these issues, with a planned, progressive approach with their own services, and through their referral pathways to other agencies, rather than just helping the person into short- or long-term accommodation.”

Assessing the sort of grant applications we receive has been described as more of an ‘art than a science’, and there can sometimes be fine margins between a successful and unsuccessful application. However, as someone fairly new to the Foundation, I am really impressed with the diligence of the Grant Managers and the depth of scrutiny of eligible applications.

After reviewing the application we will usually visit the charity to, amongst other things, determine the extent to which they are providing a holistic service to their client group – as described above. The assessing Grant Manager will then have their report looked at, along with the full application, by a colleague to sense-check their conclusions. If this is then taken to our panel it will be reviewed by all Grant Managers or, in the case of the Invest applications, representatives from our Board of Trustees, the Senior Management Team, and a couple of external experts from small charities.

Members of the panel then have the opportunity to ask questions and clarify points in the application. Finally, all members of the panel score the application and our final decision is made based on these scores. This process helps us to benchmark across applicants providing a consistency and quality to our grant decision-making and ensure as fair a process as we can.

 

Why doesn’t the foundation fund the good work of CIC’s and other not for profit and social enterprises please?

We only provide grants to registered charities and Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIO’s) and will not currently consider a grant request from a Community Interest Company (CIC). We do however allow CICs to make a joint application with charities, as long as the charity is the lead partner.

The reason for this is to do with the robustness of their respective regulatory requirements. CICs are regulated by the CIC regulator with what is intended as a ‘light-touch’. This compares with the more robust regulation of charities by the Charity Commission, which forms a key part of our due diligence process.

Our Trustees will review this position periodically but, for the time being, this remains our policy.


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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.

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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.

Ask a Grant Manager – September 2019

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Neil Shashoua – Grant Manager for the North East and Cumbria

Neil Shashoua is our Grant Manager for the North East and Cumbria. He joined the Foundation in January 2019, having worked in the voluntary and community sector in the North East and Cumbria for over 20 years and for local authorities in the region for 11 years. Neil brought with him experience of providing operational and strategic support to local, regional and national charities, mainly in the health & social care fields.

Before starting with the Foundation he ran a voluntary sector consortium, was an independent evaluator, and managed a number of projects.

“I really like helping people in organisations that do good, to problem solve, get the resources they need, and offer my support to make their charities even better.”

When not at work Neil is an active peer counsellor, volunteers as a Scout Leader in Northumberland and runs with his local club.


What are the main indicators you look for when accepting a grant application?

Great question, especially as a we have recently reviewed our grantmaking process ahead of our grants reopening for applications later this year (sign up here to be notified when they reopen).

Firstly, applicants need to be eligible for our funding – we fund only registered charities and Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) that have an income between £25,000 and £1m.

Secondly, we fund charities that are working with people who are experiencing at least one of the 11 complex social issues (CSIs) areas we have prioritised, and which are:

  • specialist – they have a strong track record of delivery, with evidence of reporting positive results. They may work more widely than our CSI areas but they need to a lot of experience and expertise in their chosen CSI area.
  • working with those in acute need: we are more likely to fund those who work with individuals at the more the serious/severe end of the spectrum of need and that have a clear way of identifying the needs of their beneficiaries.
  • working with people facing significant impact/disruption as a result of their complex social issue.

The work/interventions undertaken have the following features:

  • It is in depth, that is, working over a prolonged period with the individual.
  • It is holistic in nature and based upon a person-centred approach. The individual will have been assessed and their needs identified, with a plan of support put in place.
  • It is targeted. That is, it is not reactive. Charities know who the beneficiaries are, and they proactively seek to support them.

Finally, charities we fund support individuals via a clear pathway through their journey of change and are able to monitor and measure positive, outcome-based progression.

For more information visit our website.

 

Are there any restrictions on what your core funding will pay for?

Our core costs grants provide long-term funding for the day-to-day running of your charity, and/or the direct delivery of your charity’s work. We have listed what we will fund as core costs below but this list is not exhaustive. We do not fund capital projects, such as funding for a new building.

Core Costs 

Direct Delivery Costs 

Building running costs Salaries
Rent Recruitment
Utilities Sessional workers
Heating and lighting Volunteer expenses
Insurance Travel
Office costs Training
Stationery Monitoring and evaluation
IT running costs Promotion
Management costs Activity costs
Part-funding or funding of salaries
Finance/admin/back office

 

Do you accept applications from charitable community benefit societies?

No. We only fund charities or Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) registered with the Charity Commission, and who also have at least one year of published accounts. Charitable community benefit societies are not, as yet, regulated; for example, they are not registered with the Charity Commission.

If you’d like more information on why we only fund registered charities and CIOs, you can take a look at last month’s Ask a Grant Manager.


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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.

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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’

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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.