We, at the Isla Foundation, have joined forces with The London Funders network as we recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak is an exceptional event that will have an enormous impact on civil society groups. We want to offer reassurance that we stand with all our partners and community groups during this exceptionally difficult time.
We understand the need for flexibility is paramount as our grassroots organisations work tirelessly to ensure urgent needs continue to be met. We actively are looking, listening and then amplifying the issues that our community partners are experiencing.
We are working to provide food, shelter and digital access to those in crisis.
Our community partners are all engaged in a herculean effort to rapidly adapt their services to operate safely and effectively under the new COVID-19 conditions. As the crisis continues, uncertainty seems to remain the only constant.
Isla is here to support you with the situations you are facing, and we recognise that further shocks are likely and will require our quick response and those of our network of funders.
Here are just some of the ways our grants have been used to make a difference:
1. Nurses United
- Recent activism includes a national day of action on August 8th, where Nurses United and other campaign groups called for a 15% payrise.
“Thanks to the Isla Foundation we were able to launch a grassroots campaign to get Nurses PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), grew our mailing list to 2,000 members and run 36 demonstrations of frontline NHS workers campaigning for health justice. Without them we couldn’t have built the website, hired the staff or had the tools to make this all possible.”
2. Southall Black Sisters:
- Upgraded their IT systems, including replacing their server, upgrading their hosting platform and purchasing new equipment to enable their workforce to work from home. These upgrades mean SBS now have an online chat which is now a part of a triage system for referral.
- They were able to provide routes to safety for 10 women with NRPF with 3 months of temporary accommodation and subsistence along with telephone counselling to help mitigate feelings of isolation, anxiety, helplessness.
3. Citizens UK:
- Following the success of their Homelessness Summit in March, Citizen UK’s East London homelessness campaign grew into a national campaign to suspend ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) for homeless people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
4. Women’s Environmental Network (WEN):
- Feminist Green New Deal: the Covid-19 outbreak has accelerated calls for a ‘new deal’ for the British economy. It has highlighted the neglect of public services, lack of resilience and deep-seated socio-economic inequalities, strengthening the case for a Green New Deal (GND). But GND frameworks don’t in general take into account inequalities of gender, race and class. This is why Wen and The Women’s Budget Group have published a policy paper and briefing outlining what a Feminist Green New Deal could look like in the UK with recommendations.
- Campaign to react strategically to the COVID-19 crisis by encouraging people to ‘Keep Growing’ and providing access to emergency food.
5. Newham Renewal Community Programme
- Purchased a fridge and freezer which allowed them to receive and store food donations from various sources including Fareshare, Newham Food Alliance, Community food enterprise, Tesco, Asda, Beaconsfield Churches and 300 weekly cooked meals provided by a local Sikh temple.
- Increased both staff and volunteer capacity as they doubled their foodbank opening hours and developed a volunteer led telephone helpline called “Chat Newham” for local people to access. Many of the people accessing their services had no other means of support because they were not eligible for public funds and had been surviving on cash in hand and very low paid jobs in the hospitality sector.
- Supported 253 new clients through their foodbank service
- Provided PPE to help keep their staff and volunteers safe.
6. First Love Foundation
- Launched a befriending service targeting people experiencing loneliness in lockdown and have continued to provide food support through their food bank.
- Delivered food directly from their warehouse to recipients’ doors.
- Increased their food supply from 5 to 7 days.
7. Hackney Food Bank
- Purchased much-needed items in bulk from wholesalers. This was essential as the number of people in need of emergency food parcels tripled at some of their centres, meaning they were feeding over 500 people a week.
- Hired more space in order to store these larger quantities of food.
- Covered the fuel costs of the many crucial van journeys made by their foodbank van each week. At their busiest foodbank centre, they were having to send three vanloads of food parcels each week.
- Contributed towards mobile phones to enable shielding volunteers to assist them in alternative ways that did not put them at risk. This included phoning clients to signpost them to other organisations that could support with specific issues contributing to their poverty trap, such as debt advice, housing support, and fuel poverty.
8. The Felix Project
- There has been a 300% spike in demand for emergency food since lockdown, with the poorest being hit the hardest. The Felix Project has responded by tripling the amount of food rescued and working with a network of schools, front-line charities and other partners to deliver over 1.6 million meals in April alone. It has also formed the London Food Alliance with other redistribution charities to ensure coordination at this exceptional timworde.
Using Isla’s grant, they have:
- Upscaled operations
- Increased the amount of meals they can provide per £1.00 donated to them.
- Delivered enough food to provide an estimated 30,500 meals to vulnerable people across London.