An end of year message from our CEO, Andy Peers

Andy Peers
Our CEO, Andy Peers.

As we approach the end of 2021, we continue to find ourselves surrounded by Covid-19 and a new variant that has seen infection levels soar. If we had dared hope for a more ‘normal’ Christmas and New Year, the ongoing news about social-distancing and restrictions has shown us that we’re still a long way away from ‘normal’.

Such long-term disruption to our lives comes at a cost and, here at Longleigh, we’ve seen the immediate and longer-term challenges faced by many social housing tenants.

But, please let me go sideways for a moment. The issue of ‘growth’ in the charity sector is one that needs to be treated with care. For many charities, growth in their activities is only due to greater levels of need, the kind of which we would surely hope didn’t exist in the first place.

So, when I reflect on the continued increase in Longleigh’s grant-making activities, I struggle to see our growth as a badge of honour in the traditional sense. But, I take immense pride from the knowledge that our wonderful little team was able to stay together and stay resilient, despite the personal challenges they – like so many others – faced. The team really rose to ongoing challenge of helping to meet the needs of many, vulnerable social housing tenants.  

Individual grants

In the last financial year, we distributed over £530,000 in grants to over 700 individual tenants and families – nearly double the level of the previous year. From helping people who were furloughed to those starting again after fleeing abusive relationships, we have been able to provide meaningful support to so many. These grants include providing household essentials like fridges and cookers to food and utility top-up vouchers. Working with grantees has helped us recognise the small part we’ve had within a tremendous societal effort to be kinder and more caring to each other during this pandemic.

Project and research grants

Whilst our Individual Grants have continued to support at that very personal level, our £930,000 in Project and Research Grants have continued to support individuals and communities at a larger, structural scale. That’s an 10% increase in funding from last year.

New funding focused on building capacity in several of our existing projects, so they could provide additional support to social housing tenants with their financial and emotional wellbeing. We know these are two huge ways that millions of people have been affected by the attritional impact of the pandemic.

Many people were able to get mental health advice and support for both themselves and their children via chariti Kaleidoscope Plus Group (KPG) and Impact North. This is especially important considering how many people’s mental health has suffered during the lockdowns and social-distancing restrictions.

In addition, hundreds of referrals were made to Clean Slate, a charity that helps people on low incomes or who are struggling with their finances manage their money sustainably. When Clean Slate supports an individual intensively, the average financial net gain is just over £2,000! It feels like a real privilege and honour to be in the position to enable this kind of transformative support. Against the backdrop of the rising costs of living, the end of the furlough scheme and the Universal Credit uplift being removed, we know how important financial and budgeting advice and support can be.

In the last financial year, we distributed over £530,000 in grants to over 700 individual tenants and families – nearly double the level of the previous year

Andy on our Individual grants

Thank yous

As we go into the New Year, we know that this pandemic is far from over. There are additional challenges ahead for many, with rent and National Insurance increases adding pressure to existing struggles.

But we are in a strong position to play our part. We will once again rise to the challenge of supporting in the immediate and longer-term needs of those in the social housing sector

It is due to the incredible financial support of our founding donor, Stonewater, and our strong and collaborative relationship that allows us to do this work at all. Our continued thanks go to Stonewater’s teams –from the board and the executive to the frontline staff.

Our £930,000 in Project and Research Grants have continued to support individuals and communities at a larger, structural scale. That’s a 10% increase in funding from last year.

Andy on our Project and Research Grants

As a funder, we know we’re often behind the scenes, so our aim is always to get the funds entrusted to us to the right places and right people. And these places and people are the amazing community organisations we work with. They are truly dedicated to supporting others and we are humbled to witness their work. To all the projects we have funded and organisations we have worked with – thank you. Thank you for your continued resilience, innovation and service you bring to these projects! We are very proud of you, your work and your achievements this year.

2022 may well be just as challenging as the last 20-months. But, I believe, if we go together, we will go far. We will continue to make a difference in the lives of the individuals and communities served by the social housing sector.

Wishing you all a restful, peaceful and wonderful time with loved ones this Christmas and New Year. We look forward to the onward journey with friends old and new in the year ahead.

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