Paul Streets: It’s Time We Looked Local

As a sector we need to stop looking always to Westminster and find ways to unite with like-minded and enlightened local authorities writes our CEO Paul Streets.

Staff Photo - Paul Streets
This blog was originally published in Third Sector in March 2019.

I recently visited Manchester and West Yorkshire, where, as well as visiting Lloyds Bank Foundation funded charities, I joined a group of Local Authority leaders in Bradford City Hall, brought together by Locality  as part of the Keep It Local campaign, to understand more about how they can work better with local charities.

The Centre For Cities report was launched on the same day, highlighting the stark truth around how governmental restraint around spending has impacted the poorest people and places hardest, especially in the north. Its findings echo our own ‘Quiet Crisis’ report which shows how the cuts have hit preventive services hardest. It also revealed one welcome finding; the extent to which even cash challenged local authorities have tried to protect the most deprived communities from the worst of the funding cuts – within the confines of restricted budgets.

My conversations in Bradford challenged me to think afresh about how much time national organisations like Lloyds Bank Foundation, and sector leaders in general, spend looking up to Westminster rather than out to city and town halls up and down the country.

The group of Local Authority leaders I met genuinely understand that the sector can play an important role in preventive services. For example, in Bradford, the Local Authority and CCG have built up a good working relationship with The Cellar Trust – one of our grantees –  because they recognise the investment in community-based mental health services is the best way to get round expensive, out of city placements for people with acute mental health needs.

I left recalibrating where the sector should focus our attention. Westminster isn’t going to stop worrying about Brexit anytime soon.

Whether we go ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, the UK’s relationship with Europe is going to dominate years of politics, policy and public debate. Meanwhile everything else is side-lined. In major government departments, huge swathes of staff have been moved away from their policy areas to focus solely on Brexit. Yet there are still important national battles to fight – like what happens to the Shared Prosperity Fund that will replace the European Social Fund and The Dormant Assets fund – which between them could make a massive difference if invested in the local economic infrastructure that has been so denuded – as the devastation of our CVS’s shows.

And as our parliamentary Neros fiddle while Rome burns, Bradford, and its like, burn with the injustices Theresa May committed to quench on the steps of Downing Street. Local Authority leaders, along with tens of thousands of local charities, are beating back the flames, or being engulfed. They share common cause in caring deeply about the people and places where they live and work.  And unlike Whitehall departments, they are more likely to see services focused on people first, not departmental issue-based constructs. They can’t pause for a very deep long breath whilst Westminster waits to catch one or they’ll suffocate. This is as true for Tory East Sussex where I live, as it is for Labour Bradford.

As a sector we need to stop looking always to Westminster and find ways to unite with like-minded and enlightened local authorities to seek action to address the collateral damage delivered by austerity and the obsession with Europe.

It’s time we ‘looked local’, echoing and amplifying the message from local charities and authorities about what is happening to the poorest people on the ground in parliamentary constituencies across the UK.


How ‘Funder Plus’ Development Support can Enhance Your Charity

LloydsBankFoundationEvent28.03.19(©ElyseMarks)_011Since 2014, Lloyds Bank Foundation been working with a range of partners to develop capacity building support for small and local charities, to help them thrive long after their grant has finished. We’ve piloted, tested and expanded this support and commissioned independent evaluations to identify what works and where we can improve.  Our new report, Five years of Funder Plus: Five Things We Have Learned shares our learning.

As part of our report launch, Peter Cunnison, our Grant Manager for the West Midlands, recently sat down with Sonia Roberts, CEO of Landau to chat about how this type of support has changed her organisation.

Peter: Sonia, what do you remember about that initial conversation we had?

Sonia: I’ve always found the relationship I have with Lloyds Bank Foundation via Peter is very honest and open, so it wasn’t difficult to say I needed help and support. Through being able to talk frankly with Peter we identified that I was key to Landau and that made the organisation vulnerable; I didn’t want that to be my legacy. Peter then put me in touch with a consultancy to offer that support.

Peter: “Having these conversations is such a crucial part of the process. It’s also important that if a mentor or consultant doesn’t have the right experience or there isn’t the chemistry, the charity can come and talk to me so we can make sure the support works for them.


What does having access to support like the Enhance capacity building programme mean to a small charity like yours?

Sonia: Having Enhance support from Lloyds Bank Foundation was my first experience of ‘funder plus’ support. What’s so impressive about Enhance is you feel like you’re receiving a high calibre, quality expertise at a 1:1 local level. I felt a sense of responsibility to make sure I utilised that resource effectively because I appreciate that the Foundation is trying to develop Landau. You’re provided with options and then given ownership over the relationship with the consultant, but equally, I know I have Peter’s support if it’s not hitting the mark.

Peter: This can be a challenge for me as a Grant Manager; sometimes charities feel they should say yes and commit to everything. I’ve learnt that building the trust between myself and the charity and then taking the time to identify their needs means they will get the most out of the support.


You had some support around property issues, what difference did this make to you and your charity?

Sonia: I had no experience in property or building management. The Ethical Property Foundation wrote a report about what we should be doing and the stages to get there. If I’m honest, the report itself has been a hugely valuable asset – it brought kudos when I have been sourcing funding, as it adds weight being from a reputable organisation. We wouldn’t even have thought about or had the finances to do this ourselves.


You’ve previously mentioned that being a charity leader can be isolating. How has the programme helped with this?

Sonia: In the charity sector you don’t have a peer support network where you can get that unbiased, impartial advice without the threat of compromising your work, and that gets lonely. One of the areas the Foundation has really supported me is through regional peer forums. I’ve been able to learn from others’ experiences and share my own knowledge to support others in a comfortable and safe space, where I’ve really been able to develop my own and others’ leadership skills.


You’ve also been matched with Lloyds Banking Group mentor, Andrea. How did you find that?

Sonia: We recognised that we could gain a lot from some additional thinking around finance so having access to someone from the ‘banking world’ seemed like a great opportunity, but it was also a chance to bring in someone new and impartial to give an honest opinion about the reputation of Landau. She went on to become a trustee of the charity.

Peter: It’s been a very strategic journey, you’ve understood how to use Enhance to strengthen your charity in a staggered approach, which is so important to its success.


How would you sum up the impact the Enhance capacity building programme has had on you and your team, and what’s the future for Landau?

Sonia: Sustainability in our sector is always difficult, especially in a charity like ours where we challenge the norms. But the support has been like a stepping stone. I have huge ambitions for our second site in Stoke and, as a result of the support, I’m now confident I know how to make it happen.

It’s given us the foundations we needed. At the start of this process, we were like a Christmas tree which was weighted at the top. Today I feel like we are a Christmas tree with the baubles spread across the levels – it’s solid and if the angel at the top falls, the tree will still stand!

If you’d like to learn more about how you can benefit from our capacity building support, please check out our website and speak to your Grant Manager.

Ask A Grant Manager – March 2019

Peter Cunnison – Grant Manager for the West Midlands

Peter Cunnison is our Grant Manager for the West Midlands. He joined us in 2008 from the Big Lottery Fund where he managed grants programmes of all sizes from small grants to multimillion-pound grant portfolios.

Prior to that, Peter worked in the further education sector, establishing educational programmes in communities. He also spent many years engaging in voluntary youth work.

“I like to translate jargon and demystify the grant application process.  I especially enjoy helping charities who find grant applications a bit overwhelming, showing them they can have a positive experience and learn in a constructive way, even if we are not able to fund them.”

Peter is married and the proud father of two (now grown) children.

Q: When are your grants open?

We have two main strands of funding: one for core costs and one for developing your charity.

Enable, our development grants, are always open so you can apply at any time.

Invest, our core cost grants, are currently closed but will be reopening in September, with a simplified application process. Keep checking our Funding Timetable for the latest updates.

If you’d like to learn more about what our Enable grants can help your charity to do, speak to your Grant Manager. If you don’t already know your local Grant Manager, call our Service Delivery Team on 0370 411 1223 and they will put you in touch.

Q: Would love to know if a grant panel would favour a project or core funding?

In fact, we have two separate streams of funding, one for projects and development, and the other for core costs.

As part of our grant application process, we will work with you to think through how we can best help your charity and if you need core or project funding or other types of support. We welcome both types of grant application – neither is preferred.

To qualify for core funding you’ll need to demonstrate that more than 50% of your work supports people experiencing our complex social issues. Otherwise, you’re welcome to apply for project funding. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated, as Grant Managers it’s our job to help you work through that!

We will also be announcing some exciting changes to our funding later this year, designed to make the grant application process much simpler for charities. Watch this space!

Have a question you want to ask our Grant Managers? Submit your questions here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you can see the answers. 

Small and specialist services are key to building a #BalanceforBetter – #IWD2019

In our International Women’s Day blog, our Public Affairs and National Programmes Officer, Rachel Cain argues that International Women’s Day is the time to recognise the small and specialist services that support women and help the most vulnerable as build a world where women are not left behind.27355675a9ec18413c62

The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #BalanceforBetter, recognising that we all benefit from a world, community, economy in which there is gender balance, where women are not left behind. From the boardroom to parliament, some progress has been made in recent years, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

This year’s International Women’s Day annual study showed that, across the world, sexual harassment, sexual violence and domestic abuse are still seen as being amongst the most important issues facing women today. In the UK, one in four women have experienced domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and one in five women have experienced some type of sexual assault. How can we address these issues, as part of the wider vision to better balance opportunities across society? Yes, we need to challenge perpetrators and the systems that perpetuate violence and abuse. But we must also make sure women can access the support they need to rebuild their lives.

The expertise of specialist charities also enables them to reach those who might face additional barriers in accessing support – such as women with insecure immigration status, disabilities or other complex needs.

For many, this support is found in small and specialist services. They provide vital, person-centred support in trusting environments for women who have been affected by violence or abuse. Their gender informed approach works for victims and survivors – as evidenced in monitoring reports from the many charities we fund. It also makes sense for the economy too – research by Women’s Resource Centre has shown how women’s specialist services generate significant levels of savings for the state and high levels of social value. Like the charities in our Value of Small research, these charities create spaces where people feel safe and respected, sticking with women for the long term and helping them to navigate other services.

The expertise of specialist charities also enables them to reach those who might face additional barriers in accessing support – such as women with insecure immigration status, disabilities or other complex needs – taking an intersectional approach and working together to overcome the challenges they face.

Women’s lives are complex, so the response they need from specialist organisations is also complex.

But these charities are also at risk. Almost half of the local charities and community groups surveyed by Local Giving said they’d had to dip into their reserves in the last 12 months, at a time when 72% reported an increase in demand for their services. Funding insecurity is the biggest challenge faced by refuges and Imkaan has shown that dedicated ‘by and for’ BME women’s organisations are particularly at risk of losing funding. Smaller, specialist organisations are particularly vulnerable to losing out in the commissioning process due to the shift towards favouring larger, generic providers. That’s why we supported Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls Toolkit, showing how commissioning can better work for specialist services, and why we’ve also funded Imkaan, Women’s Aid Federation of England and Welsh Women’s Aid for three years, to support the sustainability of specialist services.

It’s critical that these specialist services can both survive and thrive. Domestic abuse alone costs the economy £66bn per year – and so not investing in these services is a false economy. If women don’t get the support they need, the costs to communities, society and the public purse – and most importantly, to the women themselves – are much greater in the long run.

Women’s lives are complex, so the response they need from specialist organisations is also complex. The importance of this was shown in the Breaking Down the Barriers report recently released by AVA and Agenda, funded through our Transform programme. The report highlights the experiences of the most disadvantaged women who have experienced violence and abuse, who are often also facing wider issues, such as mental health problems, homelessness or contact with the criminal justice system. It highlights the effects of cuts to public services, but most importantly, the report sets out clear, practical recommendations for a more joined up way of working, to ensure that women get the holistic, specialist support they need, at an earlier point. It recognises that, while these issues are complex to resolve, change is possible and we can all play a role in making it happen.

While there are many challenges to be overcome before we can reach a #BalanceforBetter, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to recognise small and specialist charities who are providing vital support, getting on with the job of working towards this every day.

What charities should be thinking about in the event of a No-Deal Brexit

With Britain’s exit from the European Union just over the horizon and with uncertainty surrounding the Government’s Brexit deal, it can be hard to plan for the future. Our Director of Policy, Communications and Research Duncan Shrubsole looks at what charities need to think about should the threat of a no-deal Brexit become a reality.


Like anyone else in the country, Brexit may be frustrating, inspiring or just bewildering you.

With no clear political way forward in sight, it is increasingly important for charities to think through what the potential implications might be for yourselves, particularly if in less than six weeks we leave the European Union with No-Deal.

The Government has published a series of notices on the potential impacts on their special Brexit website. This covers everything from changes to standards and regulations and what to do if you import or export goods or services from abroad.

As a small charity we would encourage you to think about two issues in particular:

  1. Supporting EU nationals living in the UK – whether your own staff or clients you support, EU citizens will need to apply through the Settled Status Scheme website.The scheme will open fully by 30 March 2019, with a deadline for applying by 30 June 2021 if we leave with the Prime Minister’s current proposed deal. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020.
  2. Food – given the extent to which the UK consumes food from the EU, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, it is highly likely that there may be disruptions to the availability of some food in the event of a No-Deal Brexit and an increase in food prices more broadly. This could have an impact on your beneficiaries, particularly those already struggling to make ends meet, but it could also have an impact on yourselves as charities if your service involves providing food, particularly as more people might be seeking your help. We would, therefore, encourage you to be thinking about what food items you might be able to store now in preparation. If you rely on food being donated from individuals, supermarkets or elsewhere we would encourage you to be talking to those partners now, understanding how they might respond to any shortages or disruption and where possible considering alternative sources of food.

As a funder we’ve supported the Brexit Civil Society Alliance on their work to bring together voices from a wide range of charities to build their capacity to understand and engage in the Brexit process as well as providing some funding to Wales Council for Volutnary Action (WCVA) to capture the particular perspectives of charities in Wales. The Foundation have also been part of a group led by NCVO and the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) seeking to make and shape the case for the new Shared Prosperity Fund to replace EU funding we’ll lose.

With just weeks to go, the Brexit deal we are likely to get remains unclear. It’s important to be prepared, as small charities like you will play vital roles on the front line when Brexit arrives.

Further Reading

Ask a Grant Manager – February 2019

Ella Sips – Grant Manager for the North East.

Ella Sips is our Grant Manager for the North West of England. She joined the Foundation in May 2018 with over 20 years’ experience in the voluntary sector, most recently as CEO of a CVS in Cheshire.

Ella loves the people aspect of her job, especially meeting charities and learning more about how they make a difference to people’s lives.

“Meeting beneficiaries, seeing the amazing work the charities do and playing a small role in helping to make things better is both emotional and humbling. It’s job satisfaction x1,000 in my book!”

While you’d never guess it from her accent, Ella was born in the Netherlands and is a bilingual English and Dutch speaker. When she’s not at work, you can often find Ella putting her engineering background to good use by renovating her house – including doing the plastering and floors herself!

Q: My application for grant was refused as it was not sufficiently holistic in its approach. Could you explain how I can improve my application?

We do offer feedback on unsuccessful grant applications, so please call our Service Delivery Team on 0370 411 1223, and they can help you get more detailed feedback on your specific application.

In more general terms, we are looking for evidence that the charity offers person-centred services. People often come in with a specific issue, but their situation is usually complex. What we look for is that the charity talks to the person and finds out what else is going on and helps the person to address the wider issues. They don’t have to do this all themselves – they can partner with specialist agencies or refer people to their services.

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.

For the individual it can seem like a mountain, but charities are very good at breaking these complexities down into little hills and addressing them separately.

Q: We’re currently are in the last 6 months of a 2-year pilot Invest project. We wish to continue our successful project; would we need to reapply?

The simple answer is yes – unless you were originally awarded continuation funding you will need to submit a new application. Our Invest grantees can apply for continuation funding in the last year of their grant. We would also need to see and approve your Year Two Monitoring Report before you apply.

As you are delivering a pilot project, I’d also advise you to have a quick chat with your Grant Manager before you reapply to discuss if this work has generated enough evidence to support an application for further funding. Finally, under our new strategy we have introduced some changes to our funding, please look at our updated guidance and check you are still eligible.

Q: Do you have any plans to open up grant funding to CICs?

As part of our new strategy, we recently reviewed our funding criteria. After thinking long and hard, we decided to continue our focus on small to medium-sized charities as we already have far more demand than we can meet. So, for now we don’t have any plans to open our funding to Community Interest Companies (CICs).

We do however allow CICs to make a joint application with charities, as long as the charity is the lead partner.

Have  a question you want to ask our Grant Managers? Submit your questions here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you can see the answers. 

How Volunteering Can Sharpen Your Professional Skills

Nick Magee (left) and Innes Hall (centre) with Cathy Jerrard (right) of South West Community Chaplaincy in Exeter.

We recently caught up with Nick Magee and Innes Hall, who work at Lloyds Banking Group, on their experience as Charity Mentors.

Charity Mentors are Lloyds Banking Group staff who volunteer their time and expertise to help charities funded by the Foundation.

The mentors use their skills to help support the charity they work with, providing specific expertise in areas such as marketing, digital, HR, business planning, financial management as well as more general soft skills gained through their career with Lloyds Banking Group.

Nick and Innes have been mentoring Cathy Jerrard of South West Community Chaplaincy in Exeter for the last 18 months. Here’s what they had to say about why they became Charity Mentors, and how the experience has helped them build their own skills:

Innes’s story:
Innes and Cathy‘I became a mentor through my colleague who was already part of the scheme who encouraged me to get involved. Initially I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to offer as a mentor, but it’s been a really worthwhile experience.

‘It’s been great for me to come in and learn so much about how charities work and the issues they’re facing but also how my skills can help support Cathy in meeting some of those challenges.

Often, I think you forget the skills you have or at least undervalue them.

‘Often, I think you forget the skills you have or at least undervalue them. It’s been great to be able to support Cathy in a range of areas and realise that those skills I have can be useful outside the context of my day job.

‘Cathy has so much experience and I’ve learnt a lot her from her too about how things work in charities and different ways of doing things. My experience working with Peninsula has made me stop and think a lot in my day job about what we’re doing and how.

‘The things we’ve talked about have really been guided by the relationship we have and Cathy’s needs and the needs of the charity. I’ve been able to help support her with issues around the board as well as pull other bank colleagues in to add more specialised support for their brand refresh project and accounting needs.’

Nick’s story:

Nick and Carthy‘It might sound cheesy but for me it was about helping people. It’s something different from my day to day job but what’s great about the scheme is that Lloyds support you to do it. Initially I overheard Innis talking about it and was keen to get involved. He invited me to take part in a call with Cathy and now I’m here. And it’s been great to have Lloyds’s support to do it. They really throw their support behind the mentoring scheme.

It’s a relationship that works both ways. We’ve had conversation where we’ve gone through Cathy’s projects and weeks later I’ll be talking to someone else and something we discussed or a learning from that session comes to me and impacts on my own work.

‘For me, what’s great about the Charity Mentoring is the relationship. It’s not about us telling Cathy what to do, or even just me using my skills from my role with Lloyds to help her with the same issue, it’s often about just talking things through and helping to find best way of doing things and thinking about issues in a different way.

‘It’s a relationship that works both ways. We’ve had conversation where we’ve gone through Cathy’s projects and weeks later I’ll be talking to someone else and something we discussed or a learning from that session comes to me and impacts on my own work. It’s been really valuable in that sense too.

‘I think coming from the corporate world being a mentor and being involved in this great charity has made me a more well-rounded colleague in my day job and probably a more well-rounded person too. It’s given me another perspective on things and another string to my bow.’

Cathy says:
Cathy‘The brilliant thing about the Foundation is not only the financial support but the additional support they offer. The opportunity to have a mentor from the bank, someone with a whole different set of experiences was a really exciting one for us. The best support we’ve had are our mentors Innes and Nick.

‘They’ve helped me think through things about our strategy. They’ve involved other departments of the bank to help with certain areas – like Sophia, who is in the branding department, she’s been helping us to think about refreshing our branding and reviewing our website and upgrading our whole approach to communication.

‘Having a mentor, it’s about having someone to talk about things with. Knowing these guys have all this knowledge and experience that we can tap into. It’s been invaluable.’

If you have a grant with us and would like to find out about being matched with a Charity Mentor please contact your local Grant Manager.

If you are an employee of Lloyds Banking Group and would like to find out more about being a Charity Mentor, contact Kay Cameron, Volunteering Programmes Manager: or call 0370 411 1223.