Asylos is an international network of volunteer researchers who help asylum seekers worldwide assert their right to asylum. The volunteers research in-country background information to evidence persecution of an asylum seeker. The overall aim is to ensure that the asylum procedure is evidence-based and unbiased – providing access to crucial information for asylum seekers to substantiate their claims. Over 100 volunteers are trained and supported to undertake the research and provide detailed reports – in 2020, 74 (of which 22 across the UK) were produced for use by various charities, groups and legal bodies.

At the February 2021 meeting, Allen Lane trustees agreed a £10,000 grant to Asylos. This will contribute towards the organisation’s UK work.  Over the next year, this is expected to include at least 25 new case-specific country-of-origin research reports for UK asylum seekers; expand the base of beneficiaries in the UK by at least 10%; and increase the number of downloads from Asylos’ website from legal practitioners in the UK by at least 10%.

The Common Lot

Based in Norwich, this organisation was established six years ago.  The Common Lot makes theatre with non-professionals of all ages in order to give voice to people, connect communities, and develop understanding across cultural and political divides.  It works within local communities as well as with schools and with different businesses and community groups.

In February 2021 the Allen Lane Foundation offered a grant of £2,500 to The Common Lot.  This will contribute towards costs of a new project in the Mile Cross ward in North Norwich.  The project involves the creation of an international story-telling hub for residents, and will include creative work in primary schools, with people with learning disabilities, a choir, an adults writing group and a youth theatre.  It will also bring together people from the diverse populations living locally including EU migrants, refugees, and BAME communities. Individuals will create and share life experiences either in the form of song, film, theatre or street art, and then shared at six wider events.  The project aims to bring the community together, break down barriers, and improve community relations, as well as boosting the overall image of the area.

Safe and Sound Dorset

This charity was established to support women who are isolated or at risk in and around the Bournemouth area.  The majority of the women it helps have been affected by trauma and suffer multiple disadvantages often encountering homelessness as part of their journey.

Safe and Sound Dorset offers a trusted and secure support system, including a safe place to come for help.  It also runs therapeutic creative sessions, wellbeing projects, access to practical help such as food vouchers, laundry facilities and a shower. Its main focus is on providing holistic, confidential one-to-one support, helping women access services and opportunities to benefit their health and encourage positive lifestyles.

Safe and Sound has received a grant totalling £7,488 in the spring of 2021.  The grant will fund an administrator to assist with the general running of the charity, including helping coordinate weekly outreach services, helping to organise volunteers to collect and deliver food boxes and care packages for isolated and at risk women, and support the manager with administrative duties. Overall, the charity aims that as a result of its support, service users are enabled to make better decisions and lifestyle changes – that they are engaged in less risky lifestyles and that they will have improved wellbeing.




MyCareMatters is a community interest company that works across a wide area, largely around the south of England.  Its aims are to improve the experience and outcomes of care in any social setting for people with communication challenges. It aims to empower people with the information, tools and support that they and their families need to gain a sense of control and involvement in their own care.  It has been running two specific projects to help older people and those with significant conditions such as dementia.  The first is around later life planning and centres on a useful resource ‘My Future Care Handbook’; and the second is a Buddy programme that uses the Handbook as a framework to supporting people in identifying and meeting their goals for later life.

At the February 2021 Trustee meeting, the Allen Lane Foundation awarded a grant of £7,500.  This is a contribution towards costs of running the Buddy Programme, and particularly to help better inform people who are newly diagnosed with dementia and their families and older people in general, around a future care plan.  Outcomes of the work include improved wellbeing and peace of mind for individuals and families; a better experience for individuals in later life and at the end of life; and overall reduced costs to society through fewer unwanted hospital admissions and/or medical interventions.

Vesta – Specialist Family Support

Vesta had previously been known as the Polish Domestic Violence Helpline until 2018 – the name was changed to reflect a wider migrant community that the organisation was increasingly supporting.  It is based in Cheshire, and offers services across England and Wales.  Vesta’s main aims are to empower migrant families in creating a safe and nurturing family environment where people can have healthy relationships with each other.  It offers individual support, online courses, counselling services, and provides support for the victims of abuse as well as working with perpetrators.

In February 2021, Allen Lane Foundation Trustees awarded a grant of £6,000 towards staff salaries and general running costs of this organisation.  Over the following year, expected outcomes of the work of Vesta include that clients will have improved wellbeing and mental health; that victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse will have increased knowledge about the nature of abuse in relationships; and that parents will gain a better understanding of their children’s needs, have improved parenting skills and learn how to create safer and nurturing environments for their children.


MALS Merseyside

MALS (Mentor, Achieve, Learn and Support) is based in Prescot, Knowsley and works across Merseyside.  It aims to support both young and adult offenders, to change their offending behaviour, enable them to move away from violent crime and gangs, and to be absorbed back into society with the opportunity to establish a crime-free working adult and family life.  Mentors help with one-to-one intensive support individuals and their families, building robust and trusting relationships, and work to encourage positive and healthy lives away from crime.  MALS works in the community with people, and also offers through-the-gate support for offenders before and following release from prison.

A grant of £4,000 was awarded to MALS in February 2021. The funding is towards costs of peer mentoring and a package of support for newly released prisoners into the local community.  The outcomes expected from this work include that clients will have better opportunities to remain crime-free; that safe and adequate accommodation is available to them on release; that vulnerable people at risk will be protected from being criminally exploited by gangs; and that overall reoffending rates will be reduced.

Clean Slate

Clean Slate works across Oxfordshire to provide support for victims of sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse. It offers long-term counselling, one-to-one emotional support, a helpline, weekly support groups, and regular Freedom programmes. The charity helps both female and male victims of abuse through separate provisions. Around 335 people benefitted from its support last year, with numbers increasing year-on-year.

The Allen Lane Foundation granted funding of £9,000 over a two-year period (£4,500 per annum) towards Clean Slate. This grant will help with general running costs of the charity’s work. Expected outcomes include that victims of abuse are able to access support safely without fear of judgement; they will be better empowered to deal with their situations; and they will feel better supported and have improved wellbeing and a rise in self-esteem.


ACCEPT is a charity in Leicestershire that was set up to provide support to people with severe and enduring mental health issues.  It established a network of friendship groups across the region, and more recently its focus has been on developing a therapeutic gardening project based in the town of Barwell.  People are referred to ACCEPT, and can take part in various activities including weekly wellbeing gardening days, mindfulness-based courses, bereavement friendship groups and teambuilding workshops.  Around 70 people benefit each year.

The Foundation has agreed a grant of £6,000 at its February 2021 meeting.  This will contribute towards salaries to enable the running of the project over the following year. Anticipated outcomes for people who are supported by ACCEPT include: improved confidence, self-esteem and health with a reduction in symptoms of poor mental health; reduced feelings of isolation through an increase in social contacts; and a reduction in stigma and discrimination through making new connections with the community.

Rural Coffee Caravan

This charity aims to relieve rural isolation and promote community spirit and is focussed mainly on older people. It provides a free information service that visits rural villages in Suffolk to provide social contact, information and guidance to communities that have difficulties in accessing such assistance due to their geographic location. This includes a mobile community café caravan, that enables people to come for a hot drink and cakes whilst accessing relevant information, advice or support. Over 6,000 people benefit per annum, through around 300 village visits across the county.

At the February 2021 meeting, the Allen Lane Foundation agreed a grant to Rural Coffee Caravan that will help to fund ten village visits per annum. The grant was for £9,000, split over a three-year period. Outcomes of the work involved include: older people living in the villages that are visited will reconnect and socialise with others in the community and will have reduced isolation; and that they will be able to access relevant information in order to promote their mental and physical wellbeing.

Utulivu Women’s Group

Utulivu Women’s Group has been established for over 15 years and is based in Reading.  It works to support women and girls from BAME communities, and also those seeking asylum in the UK and with refugee status.  The Group aims to increase the health and wellbeing of community members, and enable them to engage and interact better with each other and also with service providers.  More than 1,000 people benefit from its support over a year – taking part in social activities, outings, cultural programmes and sessions such as English language, and creative work, as well as events and workshops on issues including hate crime, racism and domestic abuse.

At the February 2021 meeting, the Foundation offered a grant of £6,080. This will contribute towards rent costs of establishing a new community hub and Safe Space Centre for the Group.  The hub will provide a central venue where women and girls can meet for activities, and also bring together different members of the community – such as older people, migrants, and people with mental health concerns.  It will also offer a safe space for other service providers to meet with people in crisis, and will provide volunteering, engagement and conversation opportunities to all.