Evaluating local initiatives and partnerships to end human exploitation and modern-day slavery: our work with Transforming Communities Together

Yasmin Jiang

13 January 2021

Established in 2014, Transforming Communities Together (TCT) has a reputation for innovative and generous leadership, having launched a range of initiatives to tackle homelessness, modern slavery, mental ill-health, and beyond. TCT is a regional charity working with individuals, faith groups and communities in the Midlands and the Black Country on a range of social issues.

With partnership development funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, TCT commissioned us to review and assess recent anti-modern slavery and human exploitation action in the region. This also involved examining the recent efforts to awareness-raise, and the role of strategic partnerships in reducing human exploitation and supporting victims after it has happened. Alongside this, we have contributed to TCT’s business planning, project development, and fundraising support.  

Through our assessment and consultation, we found that partnership activities and awareness raising have had a significant and far-reaching impact – strong partnerships of local and faith organisations are a viable and powerful path towards supporting victims and survivors of human trafficking. We were proud to note that TCT have long been forerunners of such an approach. To take the most recent example, the organisation has partnered with Mother’s Union (a Civil Society organisation based in nearby Lichfield) to deliver online workshops to help people recognise and report modern slavery.

We also found that TCT had strong support from neighbouring civil society and faith-based organisations to continue to facilitate this network in addressing modern slavery. These outcomes are detailed in our report, which has been produced for Transforming Communities Together with a view to enhance a large grant application to the National Lottery. 

On our work for the organisation, the Revd Dr David Primrose, Chief Executive Officer, TCT Wolverhampton, commented:

” Transforming Communities Together has grown, in six years, from a small charity of £50k/year to a medium charity of £350k/year. With that growth has come the need to develop robust business plans and to articulate a coherent strategy. Mark Ereira-Guyer’s input, and Civil Society Consulting CIC, has been most valuable, combining clear thinking with purposefulness.

Working collaboratively on several different commissions, the outcomes have had both immediate benefits and established sound pathways into the future. The robust challenges have been shared gracefully and ensured sustainable growth. The team recently completed a review of our partnership development work to tackle modern slavery and human exploitation in our charity’s area of benefit.”

Our Senior Associate James Baddeley continues to work with Transforming Communities Together following the publication of the Modern Slavery report to deliver fundraising consultancy support.

Steps to Sustainability: Open Table Network secures funding for spiritual and wellbeing support for LGBTQIA+ communities 

Yasmin Jiang

11 November 2020

Following the launch of our ‘Steps to Sustainability’ initiative in October 2020, we are happy to announce that the Open Table Network has secured a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, with our support. 

Open Table Network is a partnership of LGBTQIA+ Christian communities hosted by inclusive churches across northern England. The group is embarking on a six-month project to help individuals in the Open Table Network communities and the wider LGBTQIA+ community through this difficult period of increased isolation. With this grant, Open Table Network will support and promote spiritual, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing-for LGBTQIA+ people by:

– Sustaining existing communities 

– Fostering new ones

– Enhancing the online presence of these communities

– Making resources and support more accessible 

– Promoting greater awareness of Open Table Network and their commitment to creating safe sacred spaces for everyone

Open Table Network was one of the first groups we have supported through ‘Steps to Sustainability’. We’re very encouraged by their momentum: it goes to show how a small amount of considered support at a key moment can go a long way.  Steps to Sustainability will provide the same free, one-to-one coaching and hands-on support to 60 other VCSE groups having social impact in hard-hit areas of the UK.

Ubuntu Multicultural Centre CIC: Community Engagement Report (Press Release)

Yasmin Jiang

10 November 2020

Huge support for physical launch of Ubuntu Multicultural Centre CIC in Middlesbrough after COVID-19 Setback

Ubuntu Multicultural Centre CIC has been supporting the local BAME community in Middlesbrough throughout the Covid-19 pandemic since its launch in February earlier this year, despite lacking a physical centre. The team is now seeking funding and community engagement to open its venue, having established overwhelming support and genuine need for a physical space after surveying the community. 

A community engagement survey, co-produced with Civil Society Consulting CIC (CSC) under their ‘Steps to Sustainability’ initiative, established a clear need for a physical centre. Ubuntu were introduced to CSC by local infrastructure organisation Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland.
Out of nearly 80 survey responses, over half of respondents attributed 10 to the importance of an accessible Multicultural Centre in the community (on a scale of 1 to 10). 65% of respondents said they would use the centre at least once a week, confirming a regular and engaged user-base for the centre.

The survey was designed to collect important information about the community. The most in-demand services were general information and guidance, immigration advice, and a community cafeFeelings of isolation and sometimes loneliness was the most common issue that respondents wanted support with, along with feelings of exclusion. Equipped with this information, Ubuntu will be well-placed to foster the community and provide much-needed advice and guidance.

The Ubuntu Community Centre CIC Community Engagement Report consolidates the survey results to demonstrate need and community backing, specifically aimed at funders and local partners. As part of the report, CSC have developed a series of recommendations informed by outcomes of the survey to guide the Centre, as well as the local infrastructure organisations and authority bodies that will contribute to its success. Read the report here.

John Kabuye, founder of Ubuntu Multicultural Centre commented: 

“The survey results reinforced exactly what we thought the needs are in Middlesbrough. These are the communities that are yearning for a physical space to call home, and I am happy that our centre’s services will be underpinned by understanding and sympathy. As we know, our communities have gone through a lot of challenges and difficulties, what they need now is a culturally contextualised service to empower them and subsequently lead to community cohesion.

We will work tirelessly with all our energy, and maximising our capabilities, to make the recommendations of this report a reality. Once again thank you Civil Society Consulting for producing this report.”

About Ubuntu Multicultural Centre CIC
Since its founding earlier this year, Ubuntu Multicultural Centre CIC has demonstrated dedication in supporting the Middlesbrough community by providing shopping services for shielding families, advice and befriending over phone and video, and interpreting official COVID-19 guidance. Middlesbrough has some of the highest income and employment deprivations in the country; widening health inequality has also afflicted the region with the highest mortality COVID-19 mortality rate. Ubuntu Multicultural Centre aims to address these issues with the the following recommendations for the new centre, including:

– Consultations and workshops for advice and guidance on immigration, employability, housing, finance, and accessing local services

– Setting up a community cafe for locals to socialise and make friends

– Provide long-term activities and courses to build confidence and skills for navigating life

About Civil Society Consulting
Civil Society Consulting CIC is a non-profit that serves the voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. To support vulnerable communities during the lockdown, CIC offered shared expert advice and offered one-to-one free consultations with charities and faith groups. The ‘Steps to Sustainability’ initiative emerged from these pilot consultations with a focus on BAME organisations and social action leaders who are struggling the most through this period. ‘Steps to Sustainability’ provides consultations and follow-up support to build confidence and capacity. This model for social impact in BAME communities is being scaled up with TNL Community Fund funding and partnership with Strengthening Faith Institutions. The community engagement survey in collaboration with Ubuntu Multicultural Centre was the first output of this initiative. Over the next six months, Civil Society Consulting will support 60 BAME-led social action groups under ‘Steps to Sustainability’. 

For more information about how Ubuntu Multicultural Centre is supporting communities, contact:
John Kabuye
Director, Ubuntu Multicultural Centre CIC
07438 838849

For more information about Civil Society Consulting, contact:
Francesca Godfrey
Civil Society Consulting
07931 823391

Steps to Sustainability: Press Release

Cloe Ofori

19 October 2020

Equipping and empowering BAME social action leaders to serve their communities: Civil Society Consulting CIC partners with national multi-faith organisation Strengthening Faith Institutions to take ‘Steps to Sustainability’ to the next level, with the support of the National Lottery’s emergency COVID-19 funding.                                                   

This comes on the back of the Levelling Up Our Communities report by Danny Kruger MP, which advocates for a modernised ‘infrastructure support’ sector and sustainable approaches, like S2S, alongside a stronger engagement with faith communities. The parliamentary report sets out a vision for sustaining the community spirit seen during lockdown by more concerted interventions by ‘modernised CVS-style’  organisations in supporting and empowering people to play active roles in their neighbourhoods. 

Mustafa Field OBE, Programme Leader, Strengthening Faith Institutions (and Director, Faiths Forum for London) expressed: 

“As a growing national multi-faith organisation we are keen to pro-actively advance leadership, capacity and resilience – and this is needed more than ever in this pandemic crisis. Working with local faith leaders and their groups, and in partnership with Civil Society Consulting CIC, we now have a real opportunity to strengthen local networks of support by helping them develop and deliver their own vital projects and therefore better engender understanding and engagement between different faith communities.” 

Mark Ereira-Guyer, Civil Society Consulting CIC Director commented: 

“We need to get out there, especially in the most negatively Covid impacted areas of the country, to see how we can together best help the BAME-led faith and civil society sector keep its head above the water, sustain frontline support and services, and even innovate to help everyone in their communities. We’ll be building on our recent sustainability support work in key areas like the Liverpool city region, West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Middlesbrough, east London and Manchester.”

What is ‘Steps to Sustainability’?

BAME communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 – and the same is true for the BAME-led and -focused organisations that support them. Civil Society Consulting CIC is working to address this inequity through one-to-one consultations and follow-up support that builds confidence and capacity. Thanks to TNL Community Fund funding (via the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) and Strengthening Faith Institutions partnership, this model for social impact in BAME communities is now being scaled up.

The backstory

Civil Society Consulting CIC is a not-for-profit that serves the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. In the lockdown, the team wanted to support vulnerable communities however they could. For the CIC, this meant sharing expert advice with VCSE organisations which were working hard to serve their community. They 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. This was the highest impact solution that Civil Society Consulting felt it could do for the panic-stricken sector and quickly changing environment of a few months ago. And they were right, as Mark Ereira-Guyer, Director, further explained:

“Taking the initiative to offer the Emergency Support earlier this year brought into sharp relief our role in the sector. So many groups lack the tools, confidence and know-how to secure necessary funding, and we are thrilled to have developed a model that makes the most of motivated individuals and groups. And one we know works!”

The team noticed that BAME consultees were struggling the most, making it harder for them to serve their community. This observation was also informed by Civil Society Consulting’s comprehensive evaluation of the impact of Covid-19 on the social sector in Barking and Dagenham – which had been carried out in parallel. Therefore, Civil Society CIC’s charity sector experts have been continuing the initiative throughout the summer months with a BAME-only focus. ‘Steps to Sustainability’ was conceived out of this pilot as a way to empower social action leaders who are Black, Asian or an ethnic minority, helping them to re-configure the social support they currently offer and strengthen their responses.

How will it work?

Strengthening Faith Institutions have a strong network of BAME faith and social action hubs in some of the most ethnically diverse, socially disadvantaged areas where the Coronavirus has wreaked most havoc: Blackburn, Greater Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Walsall, Leicester, Liverpool/Merseyside Luton and in east London. Through vigorous outreach, the initiative will target groups with the greatest potential to improve their hyper-local impact and support to their wider communities.

To date, on a voluntary basis, the CIC have delivered free one-to-one consultation surgeries to 40 local faith action and civil society leaders, focusing on maximising and extending impact based on a checklist to implement the advice provide:

Ubuntu Multicultural Centre CIC (a BAME-led social solidarity group providing emergency food support) in Middlesbrough were helped to embark on a wide ranging community engagement survey to develop their emergency response planning and set up a new community drop-in centre in the town. The team compiled a report on the survey findings, advised on how best to proceed with taking on the responsibilities of a new centre and how best to resource it. 

The House of Empowerment in Coventry is an African church community who have been providing emergency support to their elderly congregation and wider community during Covid-19. The team at Civil Society provided free one-on-one surgeries and advice to their leader, Kwame. Together they successfully secured emergency National Lottery funding and ensured that the House of Empowerment’s vital work serving the community continues. 

“It’s been an honour to empower, enable and facilitate these vital community organisations and social action leaders to serve the communities they know and love,” remarked the Civil Society Consulting Directors. 

As well as being more able to deal with the negative impact of the pandemic on their own organisation, groups are also helped to plan for the future in a realistic, resilient and sustainable way – developing simple strategies and plans to grow their support and finding the financial resources to do so. 

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,” Mark added.

The six month initiative will support 60 BAME-led social action groups, beginning in early November 2020.

For more information, contact Mark Ereira-Guyer at or call him on +44 (0)7913818838.

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.

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