The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today revealed that a City Hall fund is helping 41 grassroots community groups in London that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
The Mayor’s ‘Community Spaces at Risk’ fund has provided £196,480 in emergency grants to 23 grassroots community organisations and is supporting a further 18 organisations with one-to-one advice and business support as they struggle to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
The funding is helping with immediate threats such as overdue rent payments and building maintenance costs and supporting organisations to stabilise and become more sustainable through recovery.
Community spaces provide essential support to their local people and vulnerable groups by offering a range of activities to tackle isolation, support mental health and resilience. However, these cultural centres, social clubs, youth and education spaces have been under severe financial pressure throughout the pandemic.
The Mayor created the fund to support these vital community spaces and has so far provided grants of up to £10,000 to organisations across 16 London boroughs, with further funding to be given out in the coming months.
The funding has helped dozens of spaces with a range of emergency support such as helping to make them COVID 19-secure, to negotiate better lease terms, and to ensure they can continue to provide vital services such as food banks, activities for children and young people and social support for elderly people and other vulnerable groups.
More than half of the spaces receiving support are in the most deprived areas in England, and 87 per cent are led by underrepresented groups, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, LGBTQ+ communities, Deaf and disabled people, and women’s-led groups.
The programme is being delivered through a partnership between the Mayor’s Culture at Risk Office and Locality, a national charity specialising in supporting community organisations. This fund extends the work of the Mayor’s Culture at Risk Office, which has helped provide urgent support to more than 720 cultural and creative spaces across the capital since the start of the pandemic.
Sadiq continues to be an active supporter of the role of civil society and cultural groups and has provided nearly £10m to the London Community Response, which is helping a diverse range of community and voluntary organisations deal with the impact of the pandemic.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Community and cultural spaces play a vital role in supporting Londoners, but many are facing an uncertain future due to the devastating impact of the pandemic. I am delighted that we have been able to offer these essential spaces the lifeline they need to deliver support to vulnerable people in our communities. I will continue to do all I can to help these spaces continue to serve the communities who need them the most.”
Carole Reilly, Director of Services at Locality, said: “We are so proud of working with the Greater London Authority on this valuable programme to save community spaces. Throughout the pandemic community organisations in London, and across the country, were often the first to respond and quickest to adapt their services when the crisis hit. From delivering emergency medical care and food, to providing support for isolated and marginalised groups community spaces have been never more needed."
Kaltun Abdillahi, Managing Director of Samafal Families Association, said: "Samafal Families Association Limited is pleased to have been awarded the Mayor's Community Spaces at Risk funding during these turbulent times. We feel very lucky to have been supported and advocated for by the Mayor and his programme team to continue the services we provide."
Photo by Garry Knight, Wikimedia commons.