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.

Our work in Barking and Dagenham: assessing the impact of the pandemic on the sector

Francesca Godfrey

09 Jun 2020

We’re proud and delighted to announce we’re partnering with the vibrant social sector in Barking and Dagenham to better understand the impacts of Covid-19 and provide a roadmap to recovery. 

Civil Society Consulting CIC has been commissioned to produce an impact report by BD_Collective  (*see below). The report will reflect the experiences, views and concerns of more than 100 local organisations. It will also capture their ideas for further social innovation and put forward recommendations. This will ‘sharpen the saw’, so that policymakers and funders can make high impact and informed decisions – based on the real life experiences of people and organisations on the ground in the borough.

We strongly believe in empowering voluntary and community organisations who know best and care passionately about their communities; we believe the surest way to further leverage social impact is by adequately equipping and supporting them.

Barking and Dagenham is a borough we know well and cherish. It enjoys a strong community spirit and is driven by a voluntary and community sector that has been consistently ahead of the curve during the Covid-19 crisis: quick in its response to the immediate aftermath and proactive in working together to ensure a strong social sector for the future.

Working with all organisations in the borough, we’ll be digging into the specifics of how the sector has been affected by the crisis to understand the overarching trends, as well as personal stories. We’ll look at five critical areas: income, staff, volunteers, programmes, and infrastructure. We’re also looking into how organisations view their ‘post Covid-19 recovery’: what are the foreseeable challenges and opportunities as we ease out of lockdown?

We want the report to place BD’s social sector organisations in the best position to navigate this challenging period and recover from the crisis, providing the data and information to feed into a strategic plan. These organisations have proved a lifeline during the crisis, and will be even more important as the community begins to rebuild. It’s a privilege to be involved.

BD_Collective brings the social sector of Barking & Dagenham together in partnership with others. From sports clubs and social enterprises to disability groups and faith communities, each one helps people to belong and to make positive contributions. The Covid-19 Barking and Dagenham Impact Report Phase 1 is due out in mid-July 2020.

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