The UK’s largest funder of community activity has awarded £8.6 million, to be shared between 20 organisations including Parkinson’s UK, Refugee Action, Mental Health Innovations and GoodGym.
The Digital Fund was set up to empower and support community and voluntary sector organisations who are either using digital tools to re-think and transform the way they operate, or who have already launched services that use digital technology, in order to increase scale and impact.
A key element of the fund is to ensure learning, solutions and approaches are shared across the wider sector, supporting civil society to be fit for the future.
Funding to help charities be more adaptive, relevant and resilient in the digital age
Recipients include Cruse Bereavement Care, a leading bereavement charity, which has been awarded nearly £500,000 to re-design how its services are delivered. The digital funding will enable the organisation to make better use of data and put user-centred design at the forefront of service development.
The charity will also use the funding to develop practical, digital self-help content to help bereaved people access support on-demand, alongside ensuring more expensive face-to-face support is available to those in the most need.
Alison Penny, Director of the Childhood Bereavement Network at Cruse Bereavement Care, said: “The internet has changed our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined twenty years ago: how we interact, how we shop, how we communicate. It’s no different when we are bereaved. More and more, we look online to get information, seek advice and reach out for support in our grief.
“The bereavement sector needs to respond to these changes, and anticipate future needs and wishes for accessing support online. This funding will help Cruse to look to the future for their own services and support the wider sector to think through the challenges and benefits of the digital age: working together to improve support for the next generations of bereaved people.”
Refugee Action has received £400,000 to develop a digital system which links together more than 150 different refugee support organisations in order to offer more targeted, streamlined support and advice around housing, language and healthcare.
Pascale Gayford, Good Practice and Partnerships Manager at Refugee Action, said: “Thanks to this funding, we’ll be able to use digital tools to fundamentally re-think how refugee and asylum services can be delivered in the digital age. We’ll work with peer organisations to develop good practice across the sector – and in turn we anticipate learning more about the root causes of crises among refugees and people seeking asylum.”
Digital funding to increase scale and impact
Mental Health Innovations (MHI) has been awarded £500,000 to ‘scale’ the UK’s first 24/7 text message-based support platform for people experiencing mental health crises. The funding will not only enable the platform to reach more people in crisis – other mental health charities will be able to ‘white label’ the platform to use themselves.
Victoria Hornby, Chief Executive of Mental Health Innovations, said: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. We know there is a huge demand for mental health support services, and at Shout, we are using technology to meet that demand at scale, helping people connect by text to trained and supervised Crisis Volunteers, at moments when they need support.”
GoodGym, an online platform and community that connects people who want to exercise with physical volunteering opportunities, is using its funding to increase its number of volunteer hours five-fold. It anticipates the £450,000 grant will boost volunteer hours from 50,000 in 2019, to 250,000 by 2022.
Cassie Robinson, Head of Digital Grant Making at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support this diverse set of organisations as they harness digital technology in creative and forward-thinking ways, to both transform the way they operate, and the way that services are delivered across the voluntary sector over the long-term. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, these organisations can increase their digital capacity to have a greater impact in communities and support our sector to thrive in the digital age.”
In addition to the grant, each organisation will benefit from being part of an ecosystem of support set up for Digital Fund grantees. Grantees will also collectively document and share learning between themselves and the wider sector – a key aim for The National lottery Community Fund when setting up the Digital Fund.
The Digital Fund builds on The National Lottery Community Fund’s previous experience of supporting the voluntary sector’s digital transition, which extends back over a decade. It is also a key part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s commitment to enabling civil society to be fit for the future – supporting organisations and the voluntary sector to create opportunities to help local communities thrive.