New Year, New Trustees - Edith Galliers

At the end of 2020 the London Funders membership elected (and re-elected) five new trustees. This week we're sharing their views on lessons learnt from the covid-19 crisis, what a 'good' recovery looks like, and what is needed to ensure that funder collaborations are effective. Here are Edith Galliers' (Head of Policy, Equalities and Communities, London Borough of Redbridge) thoughts...

Welcome (back in some cases) to the London Funders board. What was it about the work of London Funders that made you want to get more involved?
London Funders is such a unique and interesting membership that in all of the events and activities I have found an interesting and inspiring discussion. Although small, the organisation spans a large breadth of areas that really impact on different communities within London. By bringing together public and private sector organisations the work finds innovative solutions to complex issues across London. I have found my assumptions challenged and my voice listened to, all in the name of creating an agile funding community to enable London’s communities to thrive. This is so exciting. I want to be part of making a difference on a regional level, use my experience in out London boroughs to provide a voice for the small to micro organisations and learn new skills that will improve the ability for Redbridge, the borough I live and work in, to thrive.

To be on our board, you have to be a London Funders member – over your time in our membership, how has London Funders influenced or supported your organisation?
London Funders have been a great support to me as a new commissioner four years ago. Taking time to listen and advise me on how I could support the local Voluntary and Community Sector organisations. They have provided excellent policy advice and given me the ability to support a wider regional movement. Redbridge has been proud to be part of #WeStandWithTheSector, amplifying views that we held locally on a regional platform. London Funders have also met with our VCS and has helped them think about how they can redefine their relationship with funders and the opportunities that we need to take advantage of. Their expertise helped to give us some thinking space, when often it is too easy to get lost in the day to day of delivery.

Looking ahead to 2021, what ambitions do you have for your organisation and the work that you are doing to support communities?
There is a lot to do. My role in Redbridge Council spans a breadth of service areas, but the most important element is ensuring that we are hearing the voice of the community, amplifying those that are seldom heard, to set the strategic direction for the Council in the future. When we originally wrote our plans no-one could have predicted the impact of 2020, both with Covid and the final stages of Brexit. We need to understand the immediate and long term implications for our communities so that we can create the right environment for them to respond and recover from what has been an incredibly long year. We have seen that our VCS are very resilient, despite not having the size and budgets of other London Boroughs they have been able to respond to the demands. The strength comes from the informal community networks, the local high streets and the opportunities from diversity. We are going to work with our communities as part of established programmes, such as Community Hubs and new programmes such as the Community Ambassadors to build on our relationships, understand our strengths and co-design the next steps together. As a commissioner, we are in a difficult position. With increasing financial pressures from 10 years of austerity, compounded with escalating and underfunded covid costs we need to make difficult decisions over what and how we commission. It is important that we can create stability, sustainability and resilience with our VCS colleagues to ensure that we can provide the right local services for our communities.

And what ambitions do you hold for London Funders this year?
I think that the challenge for London Funders in the coming year is not to spread themselves too thin. The response to Covid has seen a lot of focus of the funding streams to this effort, but at what expense? There are many small to micro orgnisations not able to access essential core funding, or simply too small to redesign the work that they do for the covid effort, what impact has that had. I think London Funders should be discussing how it could best target its knowledge and expertise to add real value in a few under represented areas from other funding channels. What are the implications for the smaller or seldom heard communities? There are those that have the resources or experience to gain advantage from changes to the funding sector, so London Funders needs to focus on those that may be left behind. In addition London Funders can be a real platform to showcase good practise nationally. There is a lot of evidence now of where new ways of working between funders and orgnaisations has reduced bureaucratic burdens and released resource to respond effectively. How can we learn from the good, the bad and the ugly to shape how we work from here on out?

As we look towards recovery, what lessons will you take forward from the covid-19 crisis?
By stripping away the “noise” that surrounds the day job and organisations from all sectors working together for the same focused aim we are able to achieve so much. Perhaps we need to consider the amount we do, reduce the conflicting demands, do a few things really well and make a long term difference for our communities.