Data discussion: charity sector working & community living


Every month at City Bridge Trust our Data Analyst, Dr Emma Horrigan, compiles and shares a Data Digest, based on recent, impactful reports published by charities, quangos and civil servants.

A man crossing Southwark Bridge, seen from below the bridge

Members of the Trust team get together for an informal discussion of these reports, focusing on issues that affect London as a whole, but particularly Londoners facing disadvantages.

We use this to discuss who the Trust could be supporting, and for sharing our own individual sector knowledge and experiences with colleagues. This approach is part of our ongoing mission to put learning at the heart of our decision making.

Charity sector, crisis and recovery

We started this month’s data digest discussion looking at the stark results of Ecclesiastical’s recent survey which found that 44% of senior leaders in the survey were thinking of leaving the sector. We have been hearing from our funding partners that larger numbers of senior leaders in the homelessness sector are likely to leave, which raises questions about legacy planning and how to support emerging leaders, as thoughts turn from crisis mitigation to longer-term recovery.

All the changes and pressures of the pandemic are taking their toll, and we also heard that part of what makes it difficult to support staff in the charity sector is that staff are primarily concerned with the wellbeing of those they support, rather than their own wellbeing. We spoke about how our Responding to the Resilience Risk work has never been more relevant.

Community living

Following on from the Pillars of Community report by the Centre for Social Justice, Trust staff shared their experiences of community, which all felt reflected the report’s findings. The instability of communities due to renting, short tenancies with people moving regularly, as well as not feeling safe in the area because of anti-social behaviour, were key reasons that staff didn’t feel they could get out into their community to discover more, or that it was not worth the effort

Staff shared that having children definitely anchors you into a community in a whole new way, but cautioned that the community gained is much more of a family community rather than a personal one, and that finding a personal community fit can be more difficult. We also talked about how there needs to be trust on both sides to reach out and help a neighbour – taking a risk to trust each other, both from the person offering help and the person allowing themselves to accept that help.

Knowledge gaining for reconnecting with communities is also a factor we discussed, with online networking a great way of finding groups that share your interests. The reopening of gyms and running clubs has also helped staff reconnect with others in their area with shared interests. The loss of free, door to door information such as newsletters and events circulars can have the opposite effect.

Lockdowns have had a varying impact, with some finding they are more likely to chat to neighbours in gardens and over fences. However, in a tower block or estate, without easy access to outdoor spaces, the isolation of lockdowns has impacted on people’s ability to spend time getting to know their neighbours.

This blog illustrates informal discussion within the City Bridge Team and does not necessarily reflect established Trust policy or views.

Further reading

The London Intelligence – Snapshot of Londoners – June 2021. The fourth annual snapshot by Centre for London

Caring Without Sharing by Gingerbread – single parents, equal families

Building back better – leaving no-one behind by the District Councils Network (PDF)