During the year, City Bridge Trust continued to lead the City of London’s work in the Social Investment field. This was primarily through the City of London Social Investment Fund, which the Trust administers on behalf of the Corporation. In addition, the Trust continued it’s Stepping Stones fund, a grant programme for organisation’s seeking to enter the social investment market.
In 2012, the City of London Corporation established a £20m Social Investment Fund within the capital of Bridge House Estates to support charitable organisations that want to access funding through social investment. This fund is managed by the City Bridge Trust and reports to a Social Investment Board which consists of Members of key City of London committees along with experts in this field who have been co-opted onto the Board.
During 2016/17, the Social Investment Fund invested £1m in the National Homelessness Property Fund, an initiative investing in residential property which will be let to individuals and families who have been homeless, or are at risk of homelessness. The fund was developed by homelessness charity St Mungo’s with properties managed by their social lettings agency Real Lettings.
During the year, two active investments were redeemed. These were the Oxfam Social Impact Investment Fund, which provided SMEs in low-income countries with access to capital; and The Foundry Social Justice Centre, a building re-development project in South London which provided affordable rental space for charitable organisations working in the field of human rights.
In November 2016, the Trust held a further round of its Stepping Stones Fund. This unique social investment readiness facility for charitable organisations is being delivered in partnership with UBS. Seventeen grants totalling £700,000 were awarded to organisations tackling a range of issues bringing the total awards on this programme to date to over £2million over three rounds. A fourth round was launched in March 2017.
This unique project is matching abandoned or donated bikes with refugees and asylum-seekers who desperately need affordable transport to attend appointments, meet with friends and family, and reduce the feeling of isolation that they commonly feel. In addition, the Bike Project run maintenance courses and provide cycle-training specifically for women, many of whom have never ridden a bike before. The Trust has provided a grant of £xx to scale-up their operation by employing two additional part-time mechanics. This will enable them to refurbish more bikes and reduce the time that people currently have to wait for a bike.
To find out more about the project, here is a short video: