Building confidence through community action
In 2003, the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) put £50 million into the Fair Share Trust, designed to provide sustained funding to areas that had missed out on Lottery funding in the past. UK Community Foundations is the sole Trustee and delivers Fair Share Trust by working with its members and other local partners who use their local giving expertise to make sure funding is distributed based on what communities want.
In this guest blog, Fair Share Trust’s Bia Carneiro reflects on the personal and collective journeys of people and groups she has met at end-of-programme celebrations. Find out more about the funding programme by visiting www.fairsharetrust.org.
As Fair Share Trust draws to a close, communities across England and Wales are taking the opportunity to celebrate the achievements and the difference they have made with 10 years of support from Fair Share Trust and a slice of £50m Lottery funding.
The events are bringing together people and groups that have been involved with Fair Share Trust over the course of the programme to recognise successes and to think about ways to carry on making their communities better places to live.
At the events I’ve attended, the commitment of local panels – made up of local residents and stakeholders – to ensure funding decisions addressed local wishes was evident.
“Fair Share Trust empowered me to shout even louder about my concerns in the community”, Miriam Kikis, a member of the Great Yarmouth Local Panel, told me. For Philip Marsh, chair of the Ashfield Local Panel, it was a learning process: “There were tough times, but we worked together on how to spend the money to make a difference.”
Something else I saw everywhere was a confidence boost through community action. In Bournemouth, Dianne Humphries told me: “If you saw me a few years ago, I wasn’t the same person, always walking with my head down. Now I’m going and inspiring people.” This was hard to believe when I’d just seen her speak to over 100 people about establishing a community enterprise centre.
Clearly, a major success of Fair Share Trust has been the life changing journeys of people like Dianne, who had no idea of what they were capable of, but have now become role models for their communities.
These passionate individuals are keen to continue driving change, so looking at the future was a central aspect of most celebrations.
For example, in Ellesmere Port & Neston, local and national funders were invited to network with Fair Share Trust-funded groups; in North Somerset and Hull, guests took part in planning workshops to discuss alternatives; and in Wales, local panels from the five areas came together to exchange learning.
Reflecting on the end of the programme, Nigel Mills, the Chief Executive of Hull and East Yorkshire Community Foundation, summarised it perfectly: “It would be disingenuous to say this is the ‘end of a journey’, it would mean the job is done. That’s not the case here as the organisations funded are not closing their doors.”
Sometimes, sitting at our office in London can make the communities seem like a distant reality from day-to-day grantmaking, so for me, attending these celebrations was an inspiration. To see on the ground the difference Fair Share has made to these areas and to meet the very people who made it all possible was a welcome reminder of why I believe in community-led change.
Visit the Fair Share Trust blog to read more stories and learning from local areas.
Bia Carneiro is the Research & Learning Analyst for Fair Share Trust at UK Community Foundations.