Foundation Providing Vital Lifeline for Communities

Leeds Community Foundation and GiveBradford has leveraged nearly £1.5 million to support small charities and voluntary organisations across Leeds and Bradford in response to the Covid-19 crisis.


Working in collaboration with local, regional and national funders, strategic partners and businesses the Foundation has been focussing on helping charities and voluntary groups continue to do their vital work, both now and in the future. Existing funding Programmes are still running, but have been adapted in some cases to meet emerging needs.


Priority has been providing support to those whose operations have been severely affected by COVID-19 and through the Leeds Community Foundation and GiveBradford Resilience Funds, money has already been distributed to meet urgent needs whilst considering the long-term COVID-19 implications. The Fund has also been designed to help charities and voluntary groups make decisions for the future.


By adapting the Leeds and Bradford Healthy Holidays programme, which supports children through activities and food in the school holidays, and by redirecting and leveraging funds, the Foundation has been able to work with local authority partners to support organisations working with children and young people, so they can meet the needs of the most vulnerable families while the schools are closed.


In March, the Foundation welcomed new Programmes Director, Steph Taylor who grew up in Leeds and Bradford. An experienced social sector leader who has run a number of charities herself, Steph joined from Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), where she led a team responsible for designing and delivering national and international strategic grant-making programmes.


Steph said: “These are tough times for everyone, but especially for those in the small grassroots, voluntary organisations. All of them have deep roots in the places they work. That means they know what’s needed right now better than anyone – but they are facing huge challenges. They have been forced to change every aspect of their work, while at the same time losing much of the income they depend on. They have shown incredible energy and willingness to adapt and we have been providing continuity and reassurance for the groups we are working with. We’ve also told people who have received funding from us that if they need to change their plans, we’ll be flexible.


We know how much is required of us, and the decisions we are taking aren’t, easy or straightforward. There is huge pressure on funders like us right now to get money out the door as quickly as possible. Where it’s needed, we are moving fast. But we also believe it is vital that we plan carefully for the world beyond lockdown.


Charities and voluntary groups don’t just need to survive this crisis: they need to adapt so they can meet the needs of a society that has changed beyond recognition. My message to them is a simple one: we will listen, we will trust you to tell us what your community needs, and we’ll help you to come out of this stronger than ever.”


Kate Hainsworth, Chief Executive of Leeds Community Foundation and GiveBradford said: “We believe that the only solution that will work is for communities to be served by their own, that’s why we have always invested in community groups and initiatives that build confidence and provide opportunities.


It’s great news that there is a government package for charities, but it’s important to understand what it will and won’t do. The funding package will be particularly vital for organisations like hospices and domestic abuse services, and will help them weather the storm. However, while this funding will meet some of the immediate demand, charities won’t be able to use it to adapt to the wider changes that are going to affect how they work and serve their communities. In the medium and long-term, thousands of vital community organisations in Leeds and Bradford could be at risk. That’s why we are continuing to focus on longer-term resilience.”


Leeds Community Foundation and GiveBradford alongside others in the UK Community Foundation (UKCF) Network, are also the main distribution partners of the National Emergencies Trust (NET) Appeal. The NET funding has supplemented the work of the Healthy Holidays Programme across Leeds and Bradford.