The Community Foundation Cost of Living Fund, set-up in autumn 2022 to support charities and community organisations in Tyne & Wear and Northumberland that help people most affected by the cost-of-living crisis, is closing having made £385,801 in grants to 65 organisations.
Rob Williamson, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland said:
“The Cost-of-Living Fund was created as a response to what local charities and voluntary organisation were telling us. The impact of the crisis was significant and multi-layered. Increased costs such as rent, utilities, fuel, staff retention and recruitment were coupled with an increased demand on services. We were also hearing that many organisations were having to take immediate action, often spending cash reserves, closing or reducing facilities availability, or having to lower staff and volunteering numbers.
“The Cost-of-Living Fund sought to help these organisations maintain capacity and resources so they could continue to keep serving their communities. We deliberately focused on supporting smaller organisations with an income under £500,000 and identified strategic hubs such as community centres, food banks and welfare advice centres. We also prioritised organisations providing services to vulnerable groups such as people in crisis, homeless or poorly housed people, vulnerable older people and disabled people with long-term limiting health conditions.”
To establish the fund, the Foundation provided an initial £100,000 from its unrestricted funds. Calling on the generosity of existing donors, plus other businesses, individuals and funders, helped grow the fund further. The Foundation added further contributions from discretionary funds, taking the total to nearly £400,000.
For the first funding round in December 2022, the Foundation invited expressions of interest from 100 organisations who had previously been supported. Of those invited, seven said they currently had sufficient resource or other funding to deal with pressures and 38 sent expressions of interest.
Giving priority to those facing the most immediate pressure of rising demand and costs, the Foundation allocated the first £152,000 from the Fund in unrestricted grants of between £3,000 and £6,000 to 33 organisations.
The second round was launched with an open call for applications in early 2023. The Foundation received 59 applications for amounts totalling over half-a-million pounds. Applications were prioritised in line with the fund criteria and a further £233,801 in grants was made to 32 organisations in March 2023.
The Community Foundation has now closed the dedicated Cost-of-Living Fund. But the Foundation knows that the work of many more local charities and community organisations is under pressure from increased costs and demands. With that in mind, the Foundation is encouraging applications which will be considered for support from their other funds. Organisations can either apply to specific fund calls or make a general application at any time. The Foundation will also continue to raise awareness of the issues local organisations are facing with policy- and decision-makers here and nationally.
You can submit an application here: https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk/apply/