Big Giver: City Bridge Trust

David Farnsworth, chief grants officer at the charity, says the trust recently became London's biggest grant-maker

David Farnsworth
David Farnsworth

The City Bridge Trust has unveiled a series of grant programmes, collectively called Investing in London, that will focus on tackling food poverty and providing services that support survivors of domestic violence.

David Farnsworth, who joined the charity recently as chief grants officer, says the changes are based on research into need and consultation with communities, charities, funders and statutory bodies.

The trust, an arm of Bridge House Estates, whose trustee is the City of London Corporation, dates from the 11th century and was set up to repair London Bridge; it still maintains five bridges in London and awards grants totalling £15m a year to charities in the capital.

The trust recently became London's biggest grant-maker, which is not necessarily a good thing, says Farnsworth. "It is testament to the fact that funding is being lost from London councils," he says.

The trust will fund charities that provide specialist services, including work with victims of forced marriage, honour crimes, female genital mutilation and human trafficking. It will also support information and advocacy services for victims of hate crime.

Between 70 and 80 per cent of the funding areas will remain the same, but poverty will be an important new focus because of the austerity measures, Farnsworth says.

"There are acute needs in London now, particularly because of poverty, and that has informed our Investing in London programmes," he says.

As part of the poverty reduction programme, the trust will fund debt and money advice, and projects that tackle food poverty.

"We won't only give money to food banks," says Farnsworth. "We will be looking at the climate that has led to their existence and how this reflects the needs of the community."

The trust will also consider how it can assist with the development of community finance as a way to address the growing problem of payday loan companies and their extortionate rates of interest, he says.

Grants will continue to be awarded over three years. The application process is now available online only, although there will be exceptions for people who cannot fill them in.

Farnsworth says that the trust has no minimum or maximum limit for which charities can apply, but £180,000 is at the top end of what is usually awarded.

His tip for applicants is: "Read the website criteria. I appreciate how stretched organisations are, but we have to reject quite a few applications because they do not fit the criteria."

Recent examples of grants include £145,000 to the Chinese National Healthy Living Centre to fund the salary of a coordinator for the London Chinese Dementia and Alzheimer's Project, which tackles the obstacles that prevent people in the Chinese community from getting early diagnosis and treatment.

The charity Flash Musicals, a community theatre company, was awarded £24,000 towards running performing arts workshops for young disabled people and wheelchair dance sessions.

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