Year 2 of Bridging Divides – Our Learning Journey


As we continue our journey to live by our values, we ask, how are we doing?

And what did this mean for us during Covid-19?

Two years ago, City Bridge Trust embedded a commitment to become a values-led learning organisation in our five year strategy Bridging Divides.                                                                               

The strategy assumed that there would be much geopolitical uncertainty over the following five years and pledged to learn and adapt throughout the period to remain relevant to Londoners. We could not have foreseen how we would have to pivot to evolve our strategy during COVID-19 and how quickly.

Two years into our strategy, a review by our learning partner Renaisi, tells us we are on the right path, but that as we expected, we have some way to go.

What we are doing well

We tested our ability to be agile, adaptable, collaborative and responsive, as well as our preparedness for change during the COVID-19 crisis with much success, including:

  • Distributing £21,156,435 of funds donated by 15 different funders, via our London Community Response Fund, between March and August, as part of the London Community Response wider funder collaboration involving 60 different funders[1].
  • Converting existing programme funding into funding for core costs for so far, 154 of our funded organizations who desired it – a total of £2.8m. This approach was described by one organization as “the most pragmatic, sympathetic and helpful response to the current situation we have seen”.
  • Simplifying reporting requirements, demonstrating flexibility and providing enhanced support and guidance to our current funded organizations.

What we need to improve:

We need to continue adapting at pace to address London’s new challenges and heightened inequalities.

Renaisi stated: Bridging Divides was not designed or imagined for the context we are now living in. The core values and ambitions embodied in the strategy may still be relevant and desirable, but how they are implemented, and what the Trust needs to do to achieve them, will now have to be different.

We must tackle racial injustices highlighted by the Black Lives Matter Movement and act on evidence of the pandemic’s unequal impact on BAME people, disabled people, on women and on LGBTQ+ communities.

We must also increase our focus on our aspiration to be environmentally responsive.

Looking ahead:

Building on Renaisi’s recommendations, over the next months we will:

  • Review the relevance of the Bridging Divides strategy considering London’s new reality, applying new evidence and lessons from our involvement in the LCR and other crisis responses to how and what we fund.
  • Produce regular analyses of external and internal data to help us make more informed decisions about support for Londoners. A new Data Analyst in the team is dedicated to making this happen.
  • Focus more on seeking, acting on and sharing learning externally. We have started this process by participating in a pilot to seek and publish applicant ratings through Grant Advisor and by publishing our data on 360 giving more frequently, but we will do more.
  • We will keep our values at the core of our work and continue to implement them across all our activity, particularly developing understanding around the values; “representative” and “inclusive” and embedding “environmentally responsive” more fully.
  • Hold ourselves to account to these and other improvements with six monthly reviews by Renaisi.

[1] Including a generous donation of £5m from the Mayor of London in Wave 1 & 2 and a contribution from The National Lottery Community Fund, which is working in partnership with London Community Response Fund and has committed £7 million in Wave 3, made possible thanks to National Lottery players.


Read the full review here


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