Bringing People Together: a new funding programme
Emma Robinson, UK Portfolio Manager
Today marks a year since the first announcement on 16 March 2020 that all ‘unnecessary social contact’ should stop across the UK due to COVID-19. Our ability to be together, with other people, was abruptly paused.
Since then, despite a global pandemic and UK wide lockdowns demanding that we all stay apart, it’s been heartening to see how communities have responded with such creativity and resilience to find ways to bring people together; virtually, remotely and, when restrictions have allowed, physically two metres away.
We’ve seen from our own research people’s interest in their local community has been reignited and sparked a desire to do more to bring people together. We also know communities are changing the way they do things, adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and offering connections in new and different ways to the ‘before times’.
While some communities have continued to be, or even enhanced how connected they are in the last year, we know others have not. The contrasts experienced by different communities throughout the last year has served to shine a stark light on deep-rooted inequalities that existed before the pandemic. We believe it is more important now, than ever before, that people are connected to each other.
For us bringing people and communities together is core to our purpose and goals and that’s why we are launching a new dedicated funding programme to support this work. The Bringing People Together programme will fund ideas that enable communities to thrive by creating the conditions, infrastructure and social fabric that enable better and longer lasting ways of bringing people and communities together. The new programme, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, opens to applications on 30 March 2021.
As we pilot this new approach, we expect to fund around 20 grant holders with awards of up to £300,000 over the next 12 months for projects working across a minimum of two countries in the UK.
This funding isn’t about moving services online to bring more people together digitally but more to support bold projects experiment with doing things differently. The past year has proved the need to be more comfortable with uncertainty, therefore we will support projects that are able to adapt and be flexible as we all navigate our way and begin to renew or establish new ways of being together.
We want to work with projects that can support holding a variety of opinions and experiences, where disagreement is ok and can be explored safely, and communities can come together towards a shared goal, where different opinions, values and beliefs can be tolerated. We want to see opportunities for people and communities to make new connections and new bridges across existing connections that go beyond immediate circles and more familiar relationships
Through the grants we make we want to see people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences being brought together to make real change in their communities; activities that have agency, power and influence, that can go beyond one-off social events to a place where people are leading the change they want to see, working together in collective action.
We expect that projects funded through the Bringing People Together programme will be collaborative at heart, and have a strong focus on sharing learning, insight and good practice that enables generous leadership and working together.
We’re looking forward to bringing you more updates on this programme, including the grants we make and what we learn. For more information on this funding programme email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website from 30 March for details on how to apply.