The Trust’s Resources and Resilience programme recently opened to applications, a development and refinement of the Trust’s previous Poverty and Inclusion programme. Clare Payne, leading on the programme, explains that this new stream demonstrates continued interest in socially justice economics and community resilience, but also a keenness to sharpen the focus and impact of this body of work in the coming years, with a strong ongoing commitment to Birmingham and the Black Country.
The Poverty and Inclusion programme was the youngest of the Trust’s three funding streams. We had purposely left the criteria fairly wide to enable us to support a variety of organisations and to deepen our understanding of a range of issues around resilience, disadvantage and community-led solutions. Over the last three years, we have supported projects to build cohesion in diverse communities, develop voluntary sector infrastructure in areas which there is little going on and support marginalised communities to have more of a voice. We have supported research work that has explored place and poverty, why some communities seem better able to withstand challenging times than others, the growth in pay day lending and banking reform. Clusters of work emerged naturally under this programme, enabling the Trust to see where we had and could add value, but also where the gaps were.
The financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures mean that many of the groups we are supporting in Birmingham and the Black Country are struggling to meet the needs of communities who have seen services they use cut back and are experiencing a rise in living costs. Unemployment is going up and changes to welfare mean that those who were already struggling are finding it harder to keep their heads above water. At the Trust we feel it is critical to maintain a focus on breaking down the barriers to financial inclusion both at a community and structural level. In addition to this, we want to ensure that particular communities aren’t forgotten and that everyone has a voice and opportunity to influence change. This could be working with a few members of a particular community to submit a joint letter to a local councillor, or running a national campaign. We think both of these mediums are valuable and can learn from each other
The focus on community-led change under the Resources and Resources programme, demonstrates our belief that the solutions to local issues lie in those communities themselves and the partners that work with them. Many organisations we support are developing new collaborations and involving service users in their work in increasingly innovative ways. We want to support this type of action and ensure that learning from promising practice is captured and fed upwards.
The Trust uses the model below to illustrate the way it wants to work under the new programme, so bringing the two strands of financial inclusion and community-led change together to reduce economic and social injustice at a structural and community level. In terms of the new name ‘Resources’ means communities having enough money to live on, but also the skills, networks and services they need to flourish and display ‘resilience’ in challenging times.
The Trust is looking forward to implementing the Resources and Resilience programme in over the coming three years. For more information contact Clare Payne.