The Board of Trustees and the team at BLCF are unequivocal in their focus on poverty and inequality in the county. From being a traditional funder, mainly funding standalone projects we are in the process of evolving our approach to focus on the systemic causes which lie at the heart of many of the issues faced by our communities.
In 2019, the Foundation undertook an exercise to identify two key areas of focus and through this exercise, addressing poverty and inequality was recognised as a critical underlying issue in communities, manifesting in a variety of symptoms which weakened social infrastructure and fabric. An understanding that poverty and inequality are inextricably linked has given rise to a number of large international organisations (World Bank; UN; WEF; Oxfam) setting joint inequality-poverty reduction targets on the basis that poverty cannot be seriously tackled without addressing inequality.
Fozia Irfan, CEO of the Foundation is a national leading expert on how foundations should address inequality and is responsible for leading a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion coalition to fundamentally transform funding frameworks to make distribution of funding more equitable, transparent and representative.
The Foundation has also committed to addressing gender inequality locally through the establishment of ‘Evolve’ and a women’s fund specifically to fund projects tackling issues which disproportionately affect women In addition, the Foundation has also been involved with the Inclusive Growth Commission to ensure that all communities achieve more equitable outcomes, with future investment. This commission recognises the importance of tackling deep-seated structural barriers which prevent people from being lifted out of poverty.
Further information can be found here https://www.growinglutontogether.com
Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire are steering the development of the LFPA with the objective of supporting organisations working in the area of food poverty in Luton, to work in collaboration in order to maximise impact when addressing the underlying causes and impacts of food poverty.
A grant was awarded to support the further development of the Luton Food Poverty Alliance (LFPA) and the establishment and expansion of three Community Food Hubs in high deprivation areas of Luton (in the Farley, Park Town and Hart Hill areas of Luton). The roll-out of the Community Food Hubs will support the community to collectively grow fresh food, which can be used to achieve a number of benefits. This includes enriching local food bank provision, supply holiday hunger programmes being delivered from the hubs, improving diet and nutrition of people on low incomes living in the area, as well as addressing issues of isolation and supporting community cohesion through group activities. Feedback from participants:
Feedback from participants: “All of us have grown in terms of knowledge, experience and understanding of the environment itself. I’ve made a lot of friends, too, and I’ve become a lot more confident. I’d never done anything like this before.”