On Friday 13th May, Anna Firth, Member of Parliament for Southend West, hosted a charity grant fair at St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Eastwood Parish, Leigh-on-Sea.
The fair saw seven major funders – the ROSCA Trust, Fowler Smith & Jones, the National Lottery Community Fund, the SAVs Community Fund, A Better Start Southend, the Aspirations Program, and the Essex Community Foundation all set up stalls to which smaller charitable initiatives could go and speak directly to the funders about grants, partnership opportunities, or just advice about how to grow their charities.
Rhiannon Jones from A Better Start Southend, which had a stall at the fair, commented: “It has been great to get out in the community to make new connections and open up new channels for partnership working. Thank you!”
One of the charities that came for funding was the Essex Deaf Children Society, which aims to improve conditions of deaf children in education, of which there are 151 in Southend. Speaking about the event, Nicola Halloran from the Essex Deaf Children Society commented: “I think this is a fantastic way of getting funding because we work very, very hard to get funding, we all have full-time jobs, we’re all parents, so having opportunities like this to talk directly to funders for advice as well as grants is invaluable to us.”
Anna organised the fair to support local charities, many of whom have struggled to get the funding they need, largely because of funding being inaccessible during lockdowns. Anna organised the fair to solve that problem by connecting charities with funders face-to-face.
Speaking after the event, Anna said “I am so glad that our Charity Grant Fair today was such a success and that people from local charities were able to speak to funders directly and even secure talks about possible grants on the spot! There can be no doubt about it: Southend’s extraordinarily active charitable sector is a major part of what makes it such a special place and I am absolutely committed to supporting our local charities in whatever way I can. Off the back of the success of today, I’m sure we will be holding another one soon to give even more people the opportunity to speak face-to-face with potential funders.”