Bouncing Forward with seed funding grants in England
By Mike Thomas 22nd December 2020 Culture & Society
Thanks to National Lottery Players and The National Lottery Community Fund £140,000 is to be distributed to 112 Transition projects across England through our Transition: Bounce Forward project.
In these difficult times we’re delighted to be able to share a moment of celebration. These grants will enable a large number of Transition groups to stay afloat and launch new projects in response to the impacts of Covid-19.
The pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerability and inequality experienced by many people in our communities, and at the same time it has demonstrated the potential for major and swift changes to reframe the purposes of our economy and our society.
In September we were awarded funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to support Transition groups across England to ‘bounce forward’ from Covid-19. In true Transition style our vision was not to ‘bounce back’ to how things were before, but to build on the vision of a better future that Transition groups have been crafting for over a decade. To ‘bounce forward’ from the Covid-19 crisis and create more resilient, sustainable and equal communities.
We were overwhelmed with hundreds of brilliant projects and ideas and it was a real honour assessing all 200+ applications we received for both the micro grants and full grants. We are really happy to be able to give support to 112 of these applications, ranging from Bolton to Dorchester, Liverpool to Brixton, Exmouth to Herefordshire, and with a healthy mix of projects from both rural and city areas.
The projects we have supported cover a wide range of important areas in the recovery and rebuilding of our communities from Covid-19. Projects span across visioning, community gardening, transport schemes, solar power, local economies, community hubs, Transition group re-boots post-covid, mapping communities, food poverty, social justice and empowering community voices with local authorities who have declared a climate emergency.
The spread and range of different applications and groups supported showed us what we had always hoped for – the transition approach makes space for a wide variety of projects depending on the people who are involved and the communities they are working in.
There were three clear needs that emerged from the movement in the current context of surviving and bouncing forward from Covid-19.
1. Sustaining Transition groups during the pandemic
A number of seed funding grants have been given to Transition groups whose core capacity and funding has been lost due to the impacts of Covid-19. This includes challenges such as: group members suffering from long Covid, leading to a loss of capacity within the core team, a loss of main sources of income due to public facing events and workshops being cancelled, or changes that needed to be made to enable the group to keep functioning in the Covid context – such as paying for a Zoom subscription. This may not seem like a very glamorous thing to be giving funding to, as these groups are not launching shiny, exciting new projects. However, part of bouncing forward is building resilience within the core of our groups, ensuring they can continue to do all the excellent work they have already been doing, and enabling them to survive the shocks that Covid-19 has presented.
2. Building resilient and sustainable local economies
The second core area our seed funding has gone to is supporting Transition groups to contribute to building a more resilient and sustainable economy in their locality. Whether that be setting up a new ‘library of things’ to encourage borrowing, sharing and reuse of items in Exmouth, growing fresh, local food for community food banks in Dorchester, or establishing a network of new community gardens in Wilmslow. In Guildford and Manchester our funding will support new community hubs and physical spaces for people to come together to take action on the climate emergency and build local food resilience, whereas in Belper it will help a new mobile solar power station get off the ground. In New Mills in Derbyshire the funding will help launch a project to bring people together through food and support the development of local bread making and wheat growing. Finally in the North West, with our support, Bolton Diggers will be creating an education and support programme to share learning and best practices between social enterprises, co-ops and small producers within the North West.
Building more local, sustainable and equal economies in the face of this crisis is a crucial and vital part of bouncing forward from Covid-19, and we are excited that so many Transition groups are playing a key role in this.
3. Visioning, social justice & building partnerships
The final set of projects our seed funding will support are Transition groups seeking to engage more deeply with people and specific stakeholders within their communities. Many groups, such as Transition Town Totnes, Heswall & Kentish Town have been inspired by Rob Hopkins’ ‘From What Is to What If’ book and our online visioning webinars. They will use the funding to support them to engage as many members of their community as possible in a positive visioning process for what their town could look and feel like in 2030.
In other groups such as Crystal Palace Transition Town the visioning process will be more specific and focused, creating safe spaces for dialogue around issues such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, and engaging directly with local people who are often excluded from conversations about their neighbourhood. In St Albans and Brixton there is a strong focus on social justice and listening to and amplifying the voices of groups of people that are usually more marginalised or under-represented in their communities, such as the Bangladeshi community in St Albans, or the Afro-Caribbean community in Brixton. Embedding social justice and equality within our projects and communities is at the core of transition and an important element of our funding criteria, so we are delighted to fund projects and groups that are working in this area.
Finally a few groups such as Transition Town Berkhamsted, Transition in Kings, and Abbots in Transition have formed a coalition to work with their local council through “GUTSI” – Grand Union Transition Sustainability Initiative. This will strengthen their voice and capacity to push their local authority to take more radical and progressive action following their declaration of a climate emergency.
These are tough and challenging times for us all, and we regret that we could not support every single project that applied to our seed funding pot. However we have been so thrilled and enthused by the amazing amount of ideas, skills, projects and hope that members of Transition groups across England have demonstrated.
We can’t wait to see how these projects will develop and grow, so do follow Transition: Bounce Forward to hear inspiring stories of these projects as they get off the ground.
We also hope you will all be joining us for our What Next? Summit from 3rd-20th of March in 2021. This will build the power of community led action across the UK by bringing together hundreds of community activists who are already making change happen, so together we can have a bigger impact. It will be a space to empower us to create our own future, through inspiring each other, making new connections and sharing knowledge to build a stronger movement that creates the change we want to see in our communities.This summit is not to be missed!