Supporting faith-based social action in Coventry: A funding success for House of Empowerment community church

Francesca Godfrey

8 July 2020

The House of Empowerment community church provides essential support to residents of Longford and wider Coventry. They are a majority African church, who, in recent times have stepped up to fulfil their role in their community. They have gone above and beyond to make sure people in their congregation (and beyond) are supported during the pandemic. And they are soldiering on in the aftermath too.

We are proud to have worked with church leader and trustee Kwame Twum-Boateng, to help the organisation successfully secure 13K of funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to carry out their work.

The backstory

28 neighbourhoods in Coventry are in the 10 percent most deprived in England. As a result, the city has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19. At the peak of the crisis, deaths per hundred thousand were at some of the highest outside of London (at 166.4). Longford is the second most deprived ward in the city and 10.5 percent of residents report their health significantly “limits their day to day activity”, higher than the city average (2011 census). 

Under these difficult conditions, House of Empowerment were particularly concerned about the elderly members of the community who are most vulnerable to contracting the virus and suffering from loneliness. In normal times, the organisation works to alleviate social isolation felt by older people through events such as their over 50s lunch and music club. So when lockdown measures brought these to a halt, the organisation began delivering food and medicines and checking in with senior members by phone on a regular basis.

With social distancing measures set to continue for the foreseeable future, House of Empowerment realised their short-term emergency response needed to be a long-term service, and required urgent financial support to be sustainable for months to come. 

Where do Civil Society Consulting come in?

Meanwhile, back at Civil Society Consulting CIC, we wanted to support vulnerable communities as much as we can during this crisis. For us, this meant sharing our expert advice to VCSE organisations working hard to serve their community. We reached out to the sector offering hour-long one-to-one surgeries online – free, and open to any struggling charities or faith groups. This went hand-in-hand with a briefing pack to the sector.

We decided this was the most useful thing we could do for the panic-stricken sector and quickly changing environment of just a few months ago.

The good news

House of Empowerment were introduced to us via Near Neighbours. On the back of the one-to-one consultation, we worked with Mr Twum-Boateng to submit a funding proposal for £13,200. We were on-hand during the production of the bid document, budgets, and safeguarding guidance requested by the National Lottery.

And this is where the good news comes in! Last week, House of Empowerment secured the full bid amount, enabling them to realise the full extent of their plans:

  • to continue to deliver emergency supplies and medicines to the elderly,
  • to buy IT equipment for ‘virtual meet-ups’ with isolated community members, and
  • to ensure the community centre is ready to welcome back members post-lockdown.

The organisation’s emergency work during the crisis is a crucial lifeline for elderly and vulnerable members of the community.

Up next

This is just one of the success stories that came out of Civil Society Consulting CIC’s wider Covid-19 crisis support initiative. And the show must go on!

To date, we have delivered free one-to-one consultation surgeries to 34 local faith action leaders. To lock in impact, we followed up with the appropriate number of hours of support – based on a checklist to implement the advice provided. 

The initiative brought into sharp relief our role in the sector. Many groups lack the tools, confidence and know-how to secure necessary funding. Due to positive stories such as the success of House of Empowerment, we are scaling up our crisis response. We are revamping our crisis support initiative, with a specific BAME-focus, under the name ‘Steps to Sustainability’. Over the next six months, we will engage with over 60 faith-based and BAME charities up and down the country. Through consultations and practical guidance, we aim to help them to continue their critical work on the frontlines and make material change in their communities.

The bigger picture

Steps to Sustainability is exactly what we stand for as a small, not-for-profit consultancy – both in its end goal and in the means for getting there. Our mission is to leverage social impact and community cohesion. We believe the best way to do this is to empower, enable and facilitate community organisations and social action leaders to serve the communities they know and love. This is exactly what Steps to Sustainability is all about.

Mark-Ereira Guyer and Lucy Walmsley worked with House of Empowerment on this project.