Alan Crawford is a neighbourhood fundraiser at The Pioneer Group. This week he’s been looking at ways to support a community that is suffering from growing unemployment to moving a local enterprise to new premises.
I believe fundraising is more than locking yourself away in a room and typing. Prior to lockdown I had four different desks each in the four respective organisations I’ve been supporting with Fundraising; Compass Support, Spitfire Advice and Support Services, Firs and Bromford Neighbours Together and The Pioneer Group. It’s important to be amongst the staff and to listen and observe. My ability to converse has been hampered by lockdown. However replete with my new haircut, this week started off with a raft of Zoom meetings to catch up with staff working on the front line to discuss insight and ideas about where they need additional funding and potential sources.
I am commissioned on this day to work in a neighbouring estate on the Firs and Bromford to support their fundraising efforts. This particular community is extremely committed to the ethos of Asset Based Community Development. Therefore intrinsic to our project planning is how we ensure that the project is owned and run by the community. Currently, we are looking at creating a Food Pantry Project within the area. This idea originated in Stockport and is in effect a social supermarket where members pay a fee well below market rate for their shopping. This model provides dignity and choice and offers more promising outcomes than a foodbank.
Wednesday is my day off. I became a father at the age of 44 and so I spend a day a week with my son, Finlay. We have tickets to a local National Trust property but, given his fascination with vehicles, the highlight for Finlay is the car park, which he clearly thinks is the main exhibit. I encourage him to appreciate the beautiful displays of flowers and shrubs but he puts on a pained expression and shouts “Stingers – ouchy”.
In the early days of the pandemic, I spent a great deal of time fundraising for ‘emergency’ provisions including food and wellbeing packs. The focus is now shifting towards ‘Recovery’ projects. Our community in Castle Vale has been hit by a large number of new unemployed households as a result of the pandemic, with that number due to rise once the Furlough scheme ends. Today, therefore, I’m working with colleagues to look at creative solutions, including finding ways to better link local people to growth industries such as social care. The best funding bids are the ones that have both the right level of creative ‘blue sky’ thinking but also stack up logistically. This particular project has both.
Today I’m visiting a local enterprise ‘Upcycle’ which has recently taken over ownership of a disused community centre. Upcycle was previously in a local industrial park but the move has given them more space, made them more accessible to local residents and lifted the burden of their overheads. This was an idea I floated with the organisation at the beginning of the year. Through their dedication and hard work they made it happen. Despite them deserving all the credit, I can’t help but imagine myself as my childhood hero Hannibal from the A-Team, lighting up a large Cuban and quoting his famous catchphrase…’ I love it when a plan comes together ‘.