Big news: on Friday 26th March we heard we’d been successful in securing a further three years of funding from the Lottery. Our success is a tribute to an incredible amount of hard work and support from residents, partners and local groups over the last three and half years: very much a team effort and evidence of deep collaboration which got us over the line. It means we have a secure base of core funding on which to work from and this makes all the difference. We’ve found over the last couple of years that we’ve been able to secure smaller pots of funding for projects and initiate any number of activities, thus having massively raised expectations it’s great to have the resource to manage and activate this increased workload. Feels good.
Three and a half years ago we began our Reaching Communities programme with the aim of creating a resident-led Community Development Trust (CDT); that seems a long time ago but looking at some of the organisations we know and admire – the Bromley By Bow Centre, Selby Centre, Manor House Community Trust for example – their journey has spanned decades and ours is only just beginning. Hence the task is not only to facilitate empowerment, connection, organisation and community voice but also to ensure we become a mature social business and are sustainable over the long term.
Our work, along with everything around us, will be defined by how we build back better as we come out of the pandemic. The value of community-led action was never in doubt but is needed now more than ever in particular actions that support health and wellbeing, resilience and skills. Our work with health partners, the British Red Cross and with emerging social enterprises will become ever more important as part of the wider solution to the challenges we face.
For the future we need to reach out ever more widely to residents and partners and create a participative democratic practice to underpin the partnerships and projects we are involved with. This means finding ways to ensure what we do is genuinely resident-led and open to everyone who wants to make a contribution. Having become increasingly established and sustainable ourselves, it also means that our success should be defined by our record in helping others grow, become sustainable, attract and secure funding. If we get this right this will be a measure of real service to the wider community. There are lots of resident-led projects bubbling up, from ESOL, to arts, sports and health that show the way forward and with the right support will change what was hitherto thought was possible in terms of service delivery and resident-led social business.