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.

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.

Powerfull Beyond all Measure

This organisation is based in Liverpool, in the inner-city area of Everton which has a growing migrant population.  It works on various projects that are aimed at benefitting the local community and improving life for those that live there.  The area has high levels of unemployment, deprivation, and increased levels of tension and hate crime.  It has delivered workshops on schools around diversity, run projects with women mainly from migrant communities, and works to empower families and individuals to make positive changes and overcome barriers in their lives.

At the February 2020 meeting, Trustees agreed a £6,000 grant towards Powerfull Beyond all Measure.  The funding will go towards salary and volunteer costs related to developing a weekly drop-in/play session in a safe environment that will allow people to come together for practical and emotional support. It will also recruit and train a number of volunteer parent peer mentors to establish a cross cultural network of support for families, especially those within the migrant communities. In addition, six workshops will run over the year, with a focus on informing participants about diversity, discrimination and hate crime, and how they can empower themselves and access appropriate support.  Ultimately the project aims to help people feel safe in their community; more connected and supported; and hopefully will result in a decrease in reports of hate crime.

Transforming Notts Together

Transforming Notts Together is a joint venture, working with the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham and the Church Urban Fund. It works by developing partnerships between churches, charities, and other local groups to tackle specific issues. One key aim is to tackle poverty and improve the lives of some of the poorest and most marginalised communities across Nottinghamshire.

At the October 2019 meeting, the Allen Lane Foundation agreed a grant of £4,000 split over a two-year period. This funding is to contribute towards the organisation’s Places of Welcome scheme. Places of Welcome are set up to offer weekly spaces within churches, faith groups, or in community settings, where people can access support, free refreshments, and a listening ear. The aim is to reduce loneliness and isolation; to enable people to access support to help overcome their problems; and to encourage people from different communities to mix and improve social cohesion.

The Conversation Group

The Conversation Group is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, and works to facilitate a safe for new migrants and longer-term local residents to meet and share language, culture and information.  The Group runs a weekly open-access session, and benefits around 40 people each week.  Benefits include reducing the social isolation of members, helping to build social networks, and improving migrants’ English speaking skills.  The Group also takes part in activities such as tree planting, arts projects and community events.

A grant of £3,360 was awarded to The Conversation Group at the October 2019 Trustee meeting.  This will fund the Group to continue and expand on a pilot project titled ‘Conversations in the Community – make a difference days’.  The project brings together Group members to volunteer and take part in particular activities with six local community organisations.  It will enable new migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and local residents to work together on common projects, learn from one another, and share skills, knowledge, culture and help build friendships and enjoyable experiences.

POW! Thanet

POW! (Power of Women) Thanet is a registered charity, based in Margate, that was established in 2015. POW! Thanet organises and facilitates community projects that aim to celebrate and explore issues around feminism, women and girls. It runs engagement projects with schools, works with local arts and cultural organisations, and empowers women and girls to participate in the arts through workshops, exhibitions, performances and theatre.

The Allen Lane Foundation has awarded a grant of £5,953 to POW! Thanet. The funding will complete the charity’s budget to establish the Community Programmers Group. This will involve 15-20 women from a range of diverse backgrounds coming together in a series of facilitated sessions. It is hoped that the women will work together, discuss and re-examine pre-conceived views that their communities hold of other communities – and help to dispel feelings of ‘them and us’. It is understood that a shift in opinion held by the women will have a ripple effect, helping to change opinions in families and wider communities. Discussions are likely to include issues such as homelessness, Brexit, unemployment, and youth problems for instance. Outcomes of the work include improved social cohesion across local communities, and that the women will be empowered and unified in positive action.

The Equality Practice

The Equality Practice is a non-profit social enterprise based in Grimsby.  It runs various community development and social inclusion projects to benefit a range of beneficiary groups.  The aim overall is to improve equality and inclusion, celebrate the diversity of different communities and ensure all ‘are treated fairly and equally at all times, and have an equal and fair chance to access life enhancing opportunities, whilst feeling equally valued and experiencing a sense of loyalty and belonging.’

A grant from the Allen Lane Foundation of £14,440 was offered at the June 2019 meeting of Trustees.  The funding went towards the costs of a pilot project, bringing together members of the migrant community with older people in care homes.  The befriending project worked with five care homes, (50 + residents), and 16 migrant members of their community – bringing together people that would otherwise be highly unlikely to meet, but who could benefit in similar ways.  The project not only helped to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, but also helped participants feel valued and more connected in the community.  Furthermore, some residents stated it gave them a sense of purpose, whilst migrants benefited from the opportunity to improve conversational English.  The experience for the elderly and migrants, plus the homes’ management and staff was overwhelmingly positive.

Priors Park Neighbourhood Project

This charity runs as a community hub on the Priors Park estate in Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. It runs a number of regular activities and groups including a job club, careers advice, art groups, ESOL and IT classes, a café, advice sessions, a library facility and also offers room space and venues for other local groups and parties etc.

At the June 2019 meeting, the Allen Lane Foundation agreed a grant of £6,000 over a two-year period to the Project. This will contribute to the salary of the Project Manager. This role is vital in running the community hub, and bringing together a range of marginalised community groups under one roof. Outcomes of the work include reduced isolation; increased employment and volunteering opportunities; better community cohesion; and improved lives for people in the local area.

Our Way Our Say

This charity works in the largely deprived area of Southward in Weston Super Mare. It was set up in response to the closure of youth clubs in and around the area and the resultant effect that this had on local families as well as the whole community. It established activities for younger children on three days of the week, and set up intergenerational projects to benefit young people alongside older people living both in the community and in care homes.

The Allen Lane Foundation agreed a grant of £8,125 to Our Way Our Say in June 2019. The funding is to run the ‘Finding the Real You’ project – this is an extension of a pilot project for women in the area. It is hoped that up-to 40 women will benefit over the year. Beneficiaries are likely to include women from the Travelling community, women who are victims of domestic violence, and women with other issues such as poor mental health or who are living in poverty. The project will offer a weekly session at the YMCA building – it will include access to the gym, and include a healthy lunch, and aims to help the women with whatever needs and issues arise. This could be assistance with preparing CVs and job applications, providing emotional support, or just providing a safe space for them to talk together and share experiences. The sessions will offer opportunities to learn new skills and the chance to share existing skills and knowledge with each other thereby raising the women’s self-esteem and sense of worth.