Council awards £370k to Southwark community organisations at forefront of COVID-19 response

29 March 2021

Southwark Council has approved the latest round of funding for voluntary organisations whose work brings together the borough’s diverse communities, including those most affected by the pandemic, to help all residents lead happier and healthier lives.

Nearly £370k has been awarded by the council to 16 organisations to help create healthy, integrated and environmentally responsible communities where no one is left behind. This includes supporting Southwark’s most vulnerable residents and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19, such as people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Common Purpose grants are awarded to initiatives in Southwark that build cohesion across communities, tackle social isolation, and promote a greener borough. This is the second round of two-year grants; new four and two-year grants were awarded for the first time in 2019. Local voluntary organisations had requested longer term funding, as this gives them much more certainty and stability.

One of the grant recipients, Walworth Golden Oldies, is a charity supporting older people from the Windrush Generation. The funding will be used to help their service users access health services, healthy living information and other resources online.

Russell Profitt MBE, Chair of Walworth Golden Oldies, said: “This grant is literally a lifesaver for our elderly Black, Asian and minority ethnic users. It’s particularly welcome at this time, as it will help us expand our efforts to help improve digital skills of local elderly residents.  As we all now live in the 'everything’s on line’ era, it's critically important that elderly people are not left behind in the relentless rush to make everything digital.”

Grant funding will help charity Opening Doors London support older people from the LGBTQ+ community, who are at particular risk of social isolation. As well as connecting service users with activities, events, support and information, they provide specialist training for organisations, such as care homes, housing associations and hospitals, to help them understand the needs of LGBTQ+ people over 50 years old.

Adrian Beaumont, Head of Operations and Communications at Opening Doors London, said: “We are able to utilise this funding with LGBTQ+ people over 50 in Southwark to help reduce social isolation and loneliness with specialist support services and access to online groups.”

Educational charity Global Generation was awarded a grant for their environmental action initiative, Paper Garden, which encourages local young people to volunteer, learn from nature, and share their ideas about the rapidly changing areas of Canada Water.

Emma Trueman, Paper Garden Manager at Global Generation, said: “Thanks to the Common Purpose grant, we’re able to offer 60 free spaces to local young people on our Paper Garden youth programme. As a ‘Generator’, young people will look at how they can take positive action to improve their communities, learning about environmental social justice and how to look after their mental and physical health along the way. The project gives them the chance to work with local groups and businesses, get creative, and develop important skills to take with them through school and employment."

Southwark young people already involved with Paper Garden had this to say about the programme:

  • "I feel excited for new experiences." – Eve, Year 6
  • “Being a Generator is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills.” – David, Year 7
  • “I feel happy that I'm doing something to save the planet and the environment." – Victoria, Year 8

Cllr Alice Macdonald, Cabinet Member for Communities, Equalities and Neighbourhoods at Southwark Council, said: “Voluntary and community organisations have always played a pivotal role in bringing together communities in Southwark and empowering our residents to lead healthy and fulfilled lives. But the pandemic has truly brought home how much of a lifeline their services and activities are for our residents, especially the most vulnerable.

“Most organisations who benefitted from our last grant funding agilely adapted their services as lockdown began. I’ve been in awe of how they’ve become key players in the community’s COVID-19 crisis response by delivering food and other essentials, and providing support by telephone or online.

“After an incredibly difficult year of being cut off from the outside world, connecting with each other, with nature, and with issues that are close to our hearts has never been more important. I’m delighted that such well-deserving community organisations have been awarded Common Purpose grants to help achieve these aims for all residents.”

Page last updated: 29 March 2021

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