Businesses urged to invest in their local community and help charities continue to deliver vital services, Leeds Community Foundation (LCF) has advised.
The organisation, which acts as a match-maker between businesses and individuals looking to donate and social causes in need of funding, is calling for more companies to sign up and contribute to their fund.
Charities are under-funded
In particular, they are looking to find donors to enable them to make small to medium sized grants – £10,000 and less – which, when distributed wisely, can enable smaller or medium sized charity groups to survive and thrive. From enabling young carers to go on day trips to get much needed respite from the caring duties to offering training and work opportunities to people with mental health difficulties.
With correct funding, Sally-Anne Greenfield (CEO of LCF) says: “A group of resourceful and committed people based in the heart of the communities they serve can, quite literally, make a life-changing difference.”
Unfortunately, it is these very groups that are struggling the most in the current climate. A study by Lloyds Bank Foundation revealed that small and medium-sized charities and community groups have been hardest hit by public funding cuts, suffering a 44 per cent reduction in income. Worryingly, these groups offer a primary source support for Leeds’ most vulnerable people, and those in impoverished neighbourhoods. Per the report: “At its worst, a single funding decision can make the difference between survival and shutdown.”
That means successful charities that can demonstrate a proven impact on the lives of Leeds’ locals, can be derailed due to lack of funding.
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The Leeds Fund Over the past 11 years LCF has led the way in encouraging philanthropy and local giving, distributing over £33m in grants to community projects across Leeds. Experts in local need, they established The Leeds Fund to meet whatever needs the city is currently facing.
Over the past nine months, The Leeds Fund has distributed £550,000 to organisations across Leeds, directly benefiting 8,400 local people. Every year The Leeds Fund focus on a strategic priority. For the years 2016-2018, they are focussing on mental health.
Larger grants are given to help charities address systemic problems caused by complex mental health problems. For example, a grant awarded to LS14 Trust helped fund a local creative art psychotherapy programme, running for 3 days a week for 36 weeks. It offered a range of group and one-to-one client sessions, as well as family therapy for parents and children.
Having the project firmly based in the local community meant that travel time and costs were reduced for participants, leading to increased accessibility and attendance. Future sessions already have waiting lists, but are dependent on further funding.
By way of contrast, smaller grants can provide direct, life-improving support to groups or individuals; for example, funding Christmas dinner for – socially isolated people who face spending the holidays alone.
The satisfaction of supporting the community
The Leeds Fund has continued to receive support from Leeds-born TV presenter, Gabby Logan, who is the fund’s Charity Patron, Asda Foundation who have given generously to support the work of mental health projects and Anchor Partner John Lewis Leeds.
James Prince, Head of Branch at John Lewis Leeds,is impressed with the positive impact that donating through LCF can make. James said: “The Leeds Fund is the only strategic fund for the city that responds to need – and does so through the expertise of Leeds Community Foundation.
“It is a pleasure to work with such a professional and creative team that truly understands the city's diversity and helps us fulfil one of our founding principles – to contribute to the wellbeing of the communities where we operate."
Mental health issues have been prominent in the headlines in 2017, with Prince Harry opening up about the struggles he has had with anxiety and depression.
In July, Prince Harry attended an LCF event in Leeds, commending the efforts made by LCF and its affiliates in working to support those with mental health concerns.
Prince Harry commented: “I have been so impressed by the commitment of this city and Leeds Community Foundation in focusing on mental health. You have been leading the way in bringing funding and expertise together in support of local community solutions. I cannot tell you how pleased William, Catherine and I are that the dial seems to have shifted and that there is now greater understanding, compassion and kindness for anyone who opens up about their struggles.”
The Prince continued: “But let’s not kid ourselves that the job is done – there is much, much more that we can do at every level to make conversations about mental health as commonplace as those about physical health.”
The Leeds Fund collects donations and distributes grants throughout the year. Donations can be made online or by cheque. To find out more and donate, please visit: www.theleedsfund.org.uk or speak to a member of the team and get involved.