More than the sum of the parts

As the coronavirus pandemic exerts its influence on our lives it almost seems that our collective desire to work together has grown in inverse proportion to our physical distance; an unexpected but welcome consequence of a situation which is new to us all.  It has been heartening to see some great partnerships developing, born of shared passion and commitment to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

This sense of shared experience is evident across the charitable sector. Right from the start of the lockdown we have enjoyed working in a practical way with other funders who have been doing a great job; including with the National Emergencies Trust which is working in partnership with Community Foundations across the country and also with The Fore on the launch of the RAFT resilience fund for small charities.  Funders are also coming together regularly to share information on need and to keep our ears attuned to how that need is evolving across the country. This has helped us remain up to date, keep our thinking fresh and has provided a sense of camaraderie and wider community.  Certainly, I have found connecting with other funders very affirming when I tire of the view from my kitchen table, upon which sits a small bowl of lemons that are becoming ever more wrinkly by the day…

We continue to value the strength of our existing partnerships too,  including with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation for the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries (providing employment opportunities in the Arts for a diverse range of talented people who would have struggled to find suitable paid positions through more traditional routes) and with Pilotlight for the continuation of the Weston Charity Awards (providing small to medium-sized charities with transformational support from experienced business volunteers).

It has also been wonderful to support great collaborations across the charitable sector; from locally based organisations coming together to support their communities, to national teams working together to tackle major challenges such as homelessness, elderly isolation and support for young people.  Many charities have moved at an impressive pace to support those in need.  Fareshare and the Felix Project responded swiftly, joining their efforts to support those in food-poverty and they shared our major grant equally to enable them to work in concert.  In similar vein, InKind Direct has ramped up its emergency distribution of essential household items to the most vulnerable and Age UK –  both of which also received major grants – has made funds available to local groups across its network so their wonderful volunteers can provide help to those most isolated and alone.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that partnerships and collaborations are always easy – there are inevitable frustrations here and there; but the benefits to our society, particularly at a time of crisis, far outweigh the challenges.  The Foundation continues to learn from the sector’s response to the pandemic and to develop the benefits of working together.

Whilst we may be physically distant, in other ways we are all more closely connected than ever; and if we can continue to build on this, we will all be more than the sum of our parts.