After 23 years and thousands of visits to small but vital charities across Wales, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales is saying goodbye to its first and only grant manager for the country.
Mike Lewis, 59, from Brecon, is retiring from the Foundation – a charitable trust which partners with small and local charities who help people overcome complex social issues. Through long-term funding, developmental support and influencing policy and practice, the Foundation helps charities make life-changing impact.
Last year the Foundation distributed £25.7 million through new and existing grants, supporting more than 900 charities which helped 150,000 people experiencing disadvantage across England and Wales. Mike currently supports 62 charities across Wales which have been awarded grants worth £4,260,617 in total.
He commented: “I’ve seen first-hand the difference small charities make to the lives of ordinary people. They are the heartbeat of communities and do incredible but often unrecognised work. I am proud to have spent over two decades working with them to reach out to some of the most disadvantaged people in society.
“I’m sad to be leaving. I had the chance to work with a very progressive, forward-thinking organisation and met dedicated leaders, employees and volunteers of charities who support people at their most vulnerable. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to every corner of this great country, be creative and genuinely help make a difference. I`m entirely envious of whoever takes on the baton in this role but I hope in some small way, I have laid the foundation.”
Mike worked as a manager for Lloyds Banking Group for 14 years before joining the Foundation. Since then he held roles as a trustee with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), as the Wales representative of the UK grants committee with Comic Relief and chaired the Wales Funders Forum. Mike helped set up the Wales Advisory Group that now has members across the Welsh Government and local government, WCVA, charities, sector experts and Lloyds Banking Group Wales Ambassador. He is currently a Wales National Advisory Committee member for BBC Children in Need.
One charity Mike has supported is KIM Inspire which has received £150,000 since 2014. The grant has enabled the Wrexham-based charity, which supports women struggling with mental ill health, to recruit a community social worker and cover costs for staff training.
KIM Inspire Director of Finance Wendy Jones-Booth said: “Mike has been a fantastic grant manager and we have valued his guidance and support over the last six years. It has been great to work with a manager and funder that really understands our organisation, the work we do and the challenges we face. Thank you, Mike for always being just a phone call away if we needed you and for all your help and encouragement. Enjoy your retirement!”
Hijinx Theatre, who empower people with a learning disability to take to the stage, has been supported by Mike and was awarded a £75,000 Foundation grant in 2018. The grant has helped the charity to train people with a learning disability and give them the skills needed for paid work.
Hijinx CEO Sarah Horner commented: “Mike’s support for Hijinx over recent years has been completely life-changing, we simply wouldn’t be where we are today without his incredible dedication, advice and advocacy. Working with Mike and the Foundation has allowed us to grow and develop, expanding the reach of our work training and creating jobs for actors with learning disabilities and/or autism.
“It’s also helped develop our team, provide the skills to be sustainable into the future and continue to have a real impact on the sector. We will miss Mike hugely at Hijinx and send him our heartfelt thanks and best wishes for the future.”
The Foundation is now looking for an exceptional and experienced new grant manager to build on his achievements and to help take the Foundation forward. To find out more, visit the Foundation’s website.