Since the first National lockdown we have undergone 20 months of turbulence, uncertainty and insecurity for the voluntary sector and other sectors, the likes of which we have never experienced before. Our Foundation, like so many other charities, experienced a surge in demand for our services to help plug the gap in funding to support vulnerable and disadvantaged people during the local and global crisis.

BLCF, like other community foundations across the network, have worked at pace to ensure financial aid was provided where it was most needed and as quickly as possible. We established a co-ordinated response between local trusts and foundations in Bedfordshire, developed and led by our Foundation. With the additional support of the National Emergencies Trust, a joint funding stream and application process was created, to offer local community organisations financial aid to help them deal with emerging issues in the community, as a result of Covid-19. This without doubt was perhaps our Foundations biggest achievement during 2020, creating a shared funding stream, a first of its kind for this county.

Over 10 months we provided 172 grants totalling over £902,000 to local community groups across the Bedfordshire & Luton area. The majority of grants made as anticipated, were to help provide emergency food/essentials to those in need across the county.

What has also become clearer over the last year is the increasing need to not only provide financial support to organisations, but also build a programme of work around capacity building/peer support to organisations. delete this (We have been working with the Cranfield Trust to develop a package of support and training to local groups and as such hope to launch a dedicated programme in spring 2021).

We have witnessed the fantastic work that our community groups/charities have been undertaking during this challenging time. With the growing uncertainty over the next year or so, it is more important than ever to ensure the stability and security of the excellent groups that operate in our County and funding areas. Put simply, without these organisations it would undoubtedly mean that those vulnerable in this county would not receive the support they need.