We rely on volunteers, whether they’re part of the grassroots organisations we support or whether they help the Foundation directly, it’s super important to recognise their commitment for helping the communities we care about.

This Volunteers’ Week we’ll be highlighting some individuals that give their time freely in different ways – the people that put their money where their mouths are and are improving the lives of others! #DoMoreLocal

My working life has always involved funding groups and organisations, from massive million-pound projects (who remembers New Deal for Communities?) to smaller programmes like Community First, and the Youth Action Fund.  So, I was particularly pleased to be invited to be a member of the Foundation’s Birmingham and Black Country Community Fund Grants Panel.


It’s a serious task; we’ve too many applications for the money available and have to make some really difficult decisions on what can be funded. The Panel is very diverse, with a wide range of skills and backgrounds, and makes informed decisions. It’s  very supportive and good-natured and always well chaired by John Taylor (Foundation Trustee) who keeps the panel on task and to time.


The range of applications and the different types of projects we see is vast, from supporting those who are looking for work, volunteering programmes, days out and community fun days, bereaved children, wheelchair salsa groups and musical productions.  Every project has a positive impact locally and it’s great when we get a chance to meet and talk to groups we’ve funded.


There are inevitably discussions about repeat funding groups, and whether by continuing to fund them we are sustaining a grant dependency culture. But I believe very strongly that there is a need for small community grants to support grassroots organisations and community groups. And the Community Foundations, rooted firmly in those communities, are best placed to deliver them.


I enjoy volunteering for the Foundation and helping to contribute to these organisations that make such a significant impact on the areas we live and work.

Helga Edstrom
Head of Local Intelligence West
Office for Civil Society