Open Collective logo
Open Collective
Sharing some reflections on the last 14 months of the Newham Solidarity Fund!
Published on December 22, 2021 by Newham Solidarity Fund

Dear neighbours,

As we wrap up for the holidays, we wanted to take a moment to reflect back on the last year (or 14 months) since we set up the Newham Solidarity Fund. We are conscious we haven't stopped to do this since the early days of the Solidarity Fund. We also want to celebrate the successes that we have won together!

In October 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, we opened our doors. Since then neighbours and supporters have raised over £25,000 to support neighbours in need in Newham. And that £25,000 has translated into 500 grants of £50. We are honestly blown away by that, what an incredible demonstration of solidarity during difficult times!

We know from voluntary feedback these grants have helped neighbours feel a sense of relief and support during difficult times. To give a sense of that, we've shared some responses below to our question " What difference has the fund made to you? ":
  • " Alot i can now get some food it and put some gas on "
  • " It has helped by taking some weight off my shoulders when it has come to bills. Although some people may think it's a small amount, for me it's a blessing. "
  • " Food for family, formula milk for baby. "
  • " I was made redundant, lost both parents few months ago, suffered decline in my health and of course, as a result, my finances are in total shambles: I have to survive on £200, pay bills and support my child. I was relieved that I could turned to you and at least for that month I wouldn't have to worry. It's not much if you have regular salary, but if you exper hardship like me, it's a lot. Helping hand "
  • " I’ve been in hospital with blood clot and it has helped a lot with funding children’s food and clothing plus school meals "
It has been hugely helpful for us to hear feedback from neighbours using the Solidarity Fund. If you have received money from the Solidarity Fund and haven't yet had a chance to fill in our feedback form, please take a few minutes to fill it in here:!

Other highlights from the last year include our successful outreach to many charities and organisations working in Newham to let them know about the Solidarity Fund. We saw an immediate spike in applications and we have continued to hear feedback about how our grants are reaching people who have struggled to access funds elsewhere.

This spike in applications also sadly meant that our monthly income fell below our monthly applications. We took a difficult decision to introduce a system that gives neighbours who have applied to the Solidarity Fund three times or less priority in the queue each month. We wish we could fund everyone, but the reality we now face is that there is such a huge need for funds, we will only ever be able to meet some of it. 

In recognition of this tension, we focused on our fundraising efforts. We linked up with other London Solidarity Funds and an organisation called the Basic Income Conversation to run a joint project. That project has seen over £1000 come into our Solidarity Fund this month and is helping make the national case for a basic income - even bigger grants than the ones we're able to offer through the Solidarity Fund - for everyone. We also ran a community plant sale and community book sale. Across both sales, we raised almost £1000 and saw an unexpected bonus of welcoming two new admins to our team from our sale supporters :) Those community sales were a real highlight for us and we're planning more community events for 2022!

We also want to shout out our monthly backers who between you, give us just over £1000 a month. You are the backbone of the Solidarity Fund. You give us a financial stability that makes it possible for us to focus on fundraising, community events, joint projects and more. We know from other London Solidarity Funds just how lucky we are to have such a strong monthly backing. So a big big thank you for helping keep the Solidarity Fund in a healthy state and for making it possible for us to fund at least 20 neighbours in need every month.

We have also seen support from local businesses, not just in funds, but also in space, energy, ideas and promotion. We've seen our very own Newham Solidarity Fund IPA (india pale ale) made by Pretty Decent Beer Co., who to date have given us over £1300 and hosted us for our community pub quiz. We've also seen so much support and love from Tracks, who to date have given us over £1400 and hosted us for our community plant sale and (rescheduled to 2022) winter solidarity stall.

We also won £300 in a competition run by Accountable, our fiscal hosts, to translate our key documents into the 10 most spoken languages in the borough, other than English. You can find these translations on our website.

So from our team of 8 currently active admins (we have 4 more who we owe lots to!), we want to offer our deep heartfelt thanks and love to you all. All of you make the Solidarity Fund what it is and without you none of the things we described above would have happened!

Here's to building on our work together in 2022 - we can't wait to see where we go next :)

[P.S. If anyone would like to get more involved as an admin or has any ideas about how we could do things differently, please email us at [email protected] We are committed to involving our neighbours in the fund. We have some ideas we're going to work on in 2022 and we would love to hear yours too!]