Investing in Londoners

During the financial year, City Bridge Trust distributed £18.1million in funding across Greater London through 207 different projects. The majority was through its Investing in Londoners open grants programme, which has ten priority areas.

These priorities cover a range of work from helping people with mental health issues, to supporting London’s voluntary and community sector. Together, they help thousands of Londoners each year, helping to make the capital a fairer place to live and work.

Below are just a few examples of the work we have supported during the year. A full list of grant awarded can be found here.

The Greenwich Foundation

In January 2017 we awarded a grant of £100,000 under our Making London More Inclusive programme to The Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College. This was for access work as part of a two year conservation project at the iconic London landmark the Painted Hall.

The Greenwich Foundation was established in 1997 to conserve the buildings and grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. Artistically and historically the Painted Hall is one of the UK’s most important interiors as well as one of the largest dining halls of its date in Europe, and the place where the body of Admiral Lord Nelson lay in state in 1806. Yet it was originally built for some of the most impoverished people in the country – old and injured sailors retired from the British Navy.

Today the landmark receives around 400,000 visitors every year, with more than a third being from London. It is also a place of learning, benefiting more than 5,500 schoolchildren every year, as well as hosting public events, community workshops and citizenship ceremonies. It is also a popular filming location for movie blockbusters such as Les Misérables, Cinderella and, somewhat appropriately, Pirates of the Caribbean.

Our grant will make the Painted Hall more accessible and enhance the building as a community heritage resource for Londoners. This work will take place alongside a multi-million pound restoration of the Hall which will see the artwork expertly cleaned and restored, and a new visitor centre created, ensuring that this magnificent building can be enjoyed by Londoners of all ages and abilities for centuries to come.

Jewish Deaf Association

A grant of £180,000 to the Jewish Deaf Association (JDA), awarded in November 2016 under our Older London programme, is supporting the running of its Ageing Well Together day centre and towards their services for isolated, older Deaf or Deafblind British Sign Language (BSL) users.

The JDA, which supports around 200 people every year, was set up in 1951 to help older BSL users in the Jewish community. These people often do not lip-read and have limited literacy, leading to them being largely excluded from mainstream services and wider society.

Today, the JDA offers a range of services including specialist hearing aid support and maintenance; a technology information centre; lip-reading classes; BSL training; and social activities including discussion groups and a book club. It also offers services for parents of babies or children newly diagnosed as Deaf, along with Deaf Awareness Training in schools and day centres.

Stress, anxiety and depression are particularly prevalent among the Deaf/Deafblind community and the Ageing Well Together day centre carefully matches clients with volunteers who are trained to spot problems and avert crises before they occur.

More information on the Ageing Well Together day centre can be found here.

Kings Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association

In November 2016, the Trust awarded a grant of £81,200 to the Kings Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association (KCBNA) to provide weekly English language classes to Somali and Bangladeshi women. This grant was awarded under our English for Speakers of Other Languages priority.

The King’s Cross area of the London Borough of Camden is home to a community of some 16,000 people of whom half were born outside the UK, two-thirds live in social housing, and a high proportion are economically inactive or unemployed.

KCBNA is a charity run by and for local people delivering services to people of all ages in community. The charity has three community centres and runs a range of services and projects that aim to enhance and improve residents’ quality of life.

By providing weekly English language classes, our grant is supporting the local BAME population to break out of cycles of poverty and disadvantage. Language barriers are common obstacles to integration – this project will ensure increased access to services and wider participation in the community, including employment and further training or education.

 

Case study:

Mrs Nessa is aged 42 and came to the UK from Bangladesh on a spouse visa. She has been attending the ESOL classes and various other activities at KCBNA’s Chadswell Healthy Living Centre for a few years.

 “I really like the classes at the Chadswell Centre. All the staff are helpful and very friendly. I attend Maths, Computer and Basic ESOL classes. It is helping me to improve my skills and ability. I am more confident within myself and can manage basic communication at the GP surgery and my son’s school. I feel good about myself. I would like to go to college and I am delighted that I have now got a job as a chamber maid in a local hotel. I could not have got this job without attending the ESOL classes and getting the support from the KCBNA staff members.”

 

Mind in Camden

We were delighted to award Mind in Camden (MiC) a grant of £132,350 to expand its services in prisons and secure units for people who are hearing voices under our Improving Londoners’ Mental Health programme.

For the past five years MiC has been developing peer support groups in prisons and secure units to improve the well-being of offenders who experience distress through hearing voices. The project, Voices Unlocked, aims to reduce this distress by providing a safe setting where people who hear voices can share experiences and coping strategies, and also to relieve the stigma and isolation they face.
Our grant, awarded in January 2017, is ensuring that this vital work continues and helping to set up support groups in young offenders’ institutions and immigration detention centres, and to pilot groups for ex-offenders released into the community.

The services provided by MiC include a daily programme of activities to promote wellbeing and recovery; a service for people addicted to minor tranquilisers; a social prescribing project run in partnership with GPs; and projects for people who hear voices. These include developing peer support groups in the community and in places of detainment, as well as projects for young people.

Feedback from Voices Unlocked group members:

“The Hearing Voices Network has saved my life.”

“When I come here it’s a break. I leave the voices in my cell. They don’t bother me here.”

“I was really scared to talk about the voices I hear. I thought I was mad. But this group has been brilliant. Thank God we can talk, and have a laugh and a joke about it even. I want to come back.”

“I love coming here, listening to others who have the same problem as me. It teaches you how others have become stronger.”

“You get an insight into the lives of other group members, who you can empathise with, hear their stories. It gets you in touch with people who have left the unit and you get inspired by them.”

“Attending the group has given me the tools I need to address the voices I hear, and most importantly these tools allow me to control these inner voices. They no longer control me; I say this with pride… I have at long last reached the stage where I’ve fully come to terms with it, and to be honest, coming to the Hearing Voices group is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Refugee Action

In January 2017, we awarded a grant of £165,000 under our Reducing Poverty programme to Refugee Action towards its Asylum Crisis Project which helps impoverished asylum seekers across London who face extreme poverty and homelessness whilst awaiting their decision.

Established in 1981 and based in Westminster, Refugee Action has become one of the leading national charities working to enable refugees and asylum seekers to build new lives. Refugee Action believes that the pressure on advice and legal aid budgets for most immigration cases means that vulnerable people are being refused professional support with few other options for help.

The project is supporting vulnerable individuals and families by offering legal advice on the seeking asylum process. Working alongside organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers, the Project Co-ordinator and 10 volunteers are running outreach drop-in sessions to ensure that the help gets to those who most need it, including those with mental and physical health conditions, families, lone parents, torture and domestic violence survivors.

 

Case Study

Mr K is 28 years old and originally from Iran. He was referred to the Asylum Crisis team by the local homeless shelter having been found to have been sleeping rough for the previous eight months. He was unwell, frightened and confused.

Having already exhausted his rights for appeal Mr K was unable to access public housing or financial assistance from the Home Office. Refugee Action referred Mr K to their Street Legal Project for specialist immigration advice who, after reviewing his case, advised him that he did have grounds for a new claim and helped him to apply.

After the Home Office initially rejecting Mr K’s claim for support, an appeal to the Asylum Support Tribunal was successful and he was granted accommodation and financial support. Mr K is now living in a shared accommodation with two other young men and he is very happy.

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association

A grant of £102,000 towards a service supporting women in the military community escape domestic violence was awarded in January 2017 to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) – the armed forces charity. This was awarded under our Making London Safer priority.

Whilst a relationship breakdown is emotional and upsetting for any family, for women with a military connection this can often be even more difficult. Women with a partner in the military face particular issues as they often do not have the freedom, confidence or independent financial means to find somewhere to go. As a result, the charity is supporting these women to get the help and protection that they need.

SSAFA runs two Stepping Stone Homes in the UK offering free accommodation for these women and their children. These homes provide a nurturing and safe environment to recover from failed, destructive or abusive relationships with serving or veteran men from the Armed Forces.

Our grant is supporting the Manager of Stepping Stone South, where women from the London area are referred. This purpose-built home provides accommodation for 20 families at any one time. The house has en-suite rooms as well as communal lounges, large kitchens, well-equipped playroom with toys and a garden where children can play and guests can relax. A computer room and wifi is available to help with homework, househunting, jobseeking and keeping in touch with family and friends.

 

Case study:

When Janet’s marriage became violent and broke down, she thought she would have nowhere to go, but the Army Welfare Service recommended SSAFA. Their Stepping Stone Home was able to accommodate Janet and her teenage daughter within a week.

“It’s like home for me. I love living here and the staff have done so much to help me.”

Somerset House Trust

In November 2016, the Trust awarded a grant of £91,000 to Somerset House Trust for a project promoting biodiversity by teaching Londoners about locally grown produce and how to grow your own organic food. The grant will be used to cover the cost of an outreach manager for the Somerset House Edible Utopia Programme across London and was awarded under our Improving London’s Environment programme.

Somerset House is a unique part of the London cultural scene. Over three million people visit the site each year to experience the splendour of the architecture and enjoy the vibrant programme of activities which include concerts, outdoor cinema, ice-skating and art exhibitions. The Trust also runs a range of community programmes from its central London location alongside the Thames. These benefit people from all London boroughs.

Through collective growing, cooking and feasting, Edible Utopia is exploring the possibilities of food and giving Londoners a hands-on understanding of biodiversity. The programme is also providing young people with an understanding of the benefits of growing food locally and its nutritional value. It is hosting regular public talks and workshops on the subject of sustainability and biodiversity.
More information on the Edible Utopia programme can be found here.

Sound Connections

Sound Connections, based in Tower Hamlets, were awarded a grant in January of £60,000 to fund its work giving young people opportunities to make music across London. This grant was awarded under our Strengthening London’s Voluntary Sector priority.

Sound Connections believes that every young person in London should have the opportunity to experience music-making. Over the last ten years, it has worked in partnership with a range of organisations to strengthen the music sector, bridge gaps in provision and deliver landmark music programmes.

Since it began, the charity has provided a wealth of opportunities and now supports 66 organisations in the capital. Member organisations include those that work with visually impaired children, refugees, young offenders, young people with mental health issues and disabled young people. Organisations like these are highly skilled and valued by their participants but are often under resourced and lack funding.

Research undertaken by the charity in 2013 found an overwhelming demand for support for high-quality music education activities to help London’s young people facing challenging circumstances. In response, Sound Connections set up the Challenging Circumstances Music Network (CCMN) to roll out peer-to-peer support and new opportunities for shared learning. Our grant is supporting CCMN with staff and running costs to help Sounds Connections continue and expand the project across London.

Upper Room

In January 2017, the Trust was pleased to award a grant of £107,114 to the Upper Room to support its UR4Driving project which aims to break the cycle of re-offending and long-term unemployment amongst former prisoners. This was awarded under our Resettlement & Rehabilitation of Offenders programme.

The Upper Room, which is based in Shepherd’s Bush, works with socially and economically disadvantaged people from some of the most deprived areas of London. The UR4Driving project teaches ex-offenders to drive in return for undertaking 80 hours of personal development and employability workshops.

The project’s overall aim is to break the cycle of re-offending and long-term unemployment among ex-offenders by giving them the motivation and employability skills necessary to secure and sustain employment. This assists their re-integration into society and helps them to turn their back on crime.

Since 2010, 147 ex-offenders have obtained a driving licence. Approximately half have either found work or entered into further education within 9 months of completing the programme.

 

Case study:

After spending most of his adult life in and out of prison with multiple sentences for theft and drug crimes, Mike joined The Upper Room’s UR4Driving project in 2015 aged 25. He soon passed his theory test at the first attempt whilst also volunteering at The Upper Room’s food redistribution programme, helping to delivering surplus supermarket food to homelessness centres and soup kitchens.

Later that year, Mike successfully passed his practical test, but continued to volunteer for the charity as he felt that this provide the structure and discipline that he needed to keep himself away from his past life. This was the longest period Mike had been out of prison and his self-belief and confidence improved vastly, and he felt hopeful about his future.

Following a temporary job with a logistics company, the UR4Jobs project supported Mike to successfully apply to the Pret Foundation Apprenticeship Scheme. Having completed the scheme, Mike secured full-time employment with Ocado as a delivery driver. He is extremely grateful for the second chance and in particular for UR4Jobs who showed such faith in him.