Steps to Sustainability

What is Steps to Sustainability?

Steps to Sustainability – or S2S – is Civil Society Consulting’s flagship initiative.

The pandemic has shown how crucial the social sector is in supporting vulnerable people and neglected communities. Since coronavirus hit, we have been having one-to-one consultations with struggling civil society organisations in the most hard-pressed communities. Together with the organisation’s leaders, we identify priorities and advise on the ‘steps to sustainability’ that should be taken. From here, we remain on hand and active to help them implement them all.

S2S was scaled-up at the end of October 2020, with a specific focus on organisations serving Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

Progress Update: January 2021

Just two months in, the Steps to Sustainability support programme has reached upwards of 45 different social action groups led by ethnic minority leaders and serving the most hard-pressed communities and those experiencing the highest levels of COVID-19. Our target is to provide support to 60 social action leaders and groups by the end of March 2021. 

Each group is receiving a dedicated programme of advice, guidance and support designed to help them overcome the many barriers that the pandemic has created and exacerbated. A programme of income-generation and social media webinars have been delivered or are planned; key funders are participating in these webinars, including the Allchurches Trust and the National Lottery. 

Below are some progress updates of Steps to Sustainability.  In many cases, we are continuing to work with these organisations to provide support and guidance. 

  1. In Birmingham, we’ve helped Alkauthar School, which provides low-cost Arabic lessons to local children, to create a community engagement survey. The outcomes of the survey were used to create metrics to demonstrate their impact on young people.  We’ve found that groups we’ve worked lack the know-how to demonstrate the impact of their fantastic work, which is a key component to getting public funding. 
  2. In Coventry, we helped the church House of Empowerment serving a largely black African community with securing their first ever Lottery grant for emergency food support and for their safeguarding policy. We produced a report to underpin a new partnership and funding bid to tackle modern slavery and human exploitation for a charity based in Wolverhampton
  3. A national LGBTQIA+ organisation Open Table Network, based in Liverpool, has been supported to secure a significant grant and now to assess further beneficiary needs and income generation possibilities. Several mosques and other grassroots faith-based organisations providing community and social solidarity support are being aided by Steps to Sustainability this month, based in Oldham, Rochdale, Croydon and Manchester
  4. In North-East London, we’ve been working with newly-established charity Waltham Forest Women’s Association (WFWN) to develop a formal impact report to present to funders. We’re a critical friend for active funding applications, and we are helping them identify mental health organisations they can work with and apply for funding in partnership. Lastly, we’re working with WFWN to improve their website, ensuring it is informative, demonstrates their impact, and is representative of the charity.
  5. In East London, namely the London borough of Barking and Dagenham, we’ve been working with several female-led Community Interest Companies. We helped Sew London Project (Kemi Oloyede) to design a fresh new logo, worked with her to develop her equality and diversity policy, and provided an evaluation report for her excellent Black History Month online event. Our director Francesca spoke at Ukon Careers’ away-day, after reviewing the organisation’s five-year business plan and evaluations of online events during the pandemic. 
  6. In North East England, we’re working with Amal Project Teesside to obtain a deeper understanding of the refugee and asylum seeker situation in Middlesbrough by providing desk-based research and helping them to design a survey to collect data from schools across the region. In Middlesbrough we have guided the development of a community engagement exercise with Ubuntu MultiCultural Centre CIC to establish a community drop-in facility and produced a report to help articulate their needs to funders. 
  7. We helped Early Years Cocoon CIC get a better idea of their user-base by helping them design a short survey to collect demographic information. We are working with them, like many other groups, to develop a formal impact report, with the new survey information playing an important part. 
Francesca, Mark and Theo with Early Years Cocoon CIC in a Steps to Sustainability Meeting

Other social action and faith-based organisations currently being supported include:

  • Saabat Gallery CIC in Middlesbrough/Redcar
  • Awakening Minds Practice CIC in Rochdale
  • Salutem Workshops CIC in Manchester
  • Supporting Sisters in Bury, Manchester
  • Kavannah Klub in Redcar & Middlesbrough
  • 4-wings CIC in Liverpool
  • Forum for Discussion on Israel & Palestine based in Manchester
  • Chastiah Educational Trust, Rochdale
  • Croydon Mosque
  • Khizara Moque, Manchester
  • Quba Trust in Luton
  • Back in Control Consultancy, London
  • Youth Empowerment Trust in Lambeth
  • St. Matthews Bethnal Green
  • Shahjalal Mosque & Islamic Centre, Manchester

The backstory: our emergency covid support programme scaled-up

When the pandemic struck the UK in March, Civil Society Consulting CIC wanted to support vulnerable communities as much as we can during this crisis. 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 free briefing pack to the sector.

We found this was transformative to panicked community groups, and decided it was the most useful thing we could do for the sector and quickly changing environment of just a few months ago.

We delivered free one-to-one consultation surgeries to a wide variety of local social 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. In doing so, we witnessed that many groups lack the tools, confidence and know-how to secure necessary funding, and there was clear racial inequity. The initiative received extremely positive feedback from struggling organisations and endorsement from other key players in the sector; it therefore brought into sharp relief what we can do to provide tangible support to them.

We therefore continued to work with several organisations up-and-down the country – including Ubuntu Multicultural Centre (Middlesbrough), London Sew Project (East London) and Ukon Careers (East London). Owing to the proven success of the model, we are thrilled to announce that thanks to TNL Community Fund funding, we are continuing and scaling up our crisis response. As of October 2020, Civil Society Consulting CIC is partnering with Strengthening Faith Institutions to revamp our crisis support initiative, with a specific BAME-focus – under the name ‘Steps to Sustainability’.

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. Since this is exactly what Steps to Sustainability is all about, we see it as a flagship programme.

To learn more our about our programme please read our brochure. To learn more about where Steps to Sustainability is headed, please check out our Press Release. Download both below.