35 years of… working together

Jill Baker

An audio recording of this blog is available at the bottom of this page

When our Foundation was launched in 1985, ‘drugs, hooliganism and unemployment’ were identified as the ‘areas of social need’ which we would focus our efforts on.

This reflected the challenges facing society at that time (albeit using some language we might not use today!).

At that time, I was working at a Council for Voluntary Service in the North East. Britain was dealing with riots in Handsworth and Brixton and reeling from the murder of PC Keith Blacklock during the Broadwater Farm estate riots.

It was recognised that the riots came about because of growing anger at the inequalities people were experiencing as a result of mass unemployment and the resulting poverty. These inequalities impacted people’s aspirations as much as income and livelihood, leading to many communities stuck in a cycle of poverty.

Since then, our grants programmes have changed over time; spotlighting many different social issues and widening the net to support smaller more local charities.

But despite these more community-based approaches, the basic inequalities that were there in 1985 are still there now. 

Whilst we are rightly proud of the difference our funding has made over the years, we know that funding alone isn’t going to address structural inequalities.

This is what influenced and informed the creation of the Development directorate in 2018. I am privileged to be its first Director.


The work of the Development Team

Mindful that as a funder we wield immense power, in the Development directorate our starting point has been to lead not with money but with relationships.

We want to help build resilience and bring about lasting change in the six communities we partner with. To achieve this, we work not just with small charities, but with all parts of these systems - local people, employers, charities, social enterprises, universities as well as staff from Lloyds Banking Group who bring their skills to support the work too.

Our aim is to help everyone who is part of the community identify the key issues their communities face and work out solutions together.

Since it’s impossible for systems to be resilient without those who fund services being involved, we bring public sector commissioners and other funders to the table. It follows that the funding needed to support these solutions becomes a collective responsibility. This is instead of the ‘them and us’ scenario with funders or local procurement systems making judgements about who they’ll support without understanding local needs.  

You can learn more about the fantastic communities here, but they range from Redcar in the North East to Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, Bolsover in Derbyshire, Telford in the West Midlands; Halton in the North West and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. Each one of them is unique and we work with them both individually and collectively.


Next steps

Over the coming months, we will be helping them identify the key issue they wish to tackle. In Great Yarmouth for example, through COVID-19, they have identified homelessness as the main issue they want to work with us on.

We will also recruit someone in each locality to work closely with us so we can learn from each other. With their support, we’ll learn what their community needs while they get the opportunity to work with us and develop new skills.

It’s no surprise then that to achieve our vision we needed a team with a wider range of skills than grantmaking.

Whilst we are building our skills in some core approaches that we think will help to do this work, such as training in restorative practice and service design principles, we think we need to do more than this. We think to help build a new way of doing things, we need to draw on a range of voices and perspectives.


Our team

To this end, some of our (very small!) team are seconded to us. We have:

  • Victoria, the Chief Executive of Improving Lives - a small mental health charity in Nottingham (improvinglivesnotts.org.uk)
  • Catherine who was an Area Manager in the Branch Business Banking team within Lloyds Banking Group
  • Emma, one of our own Regional Managers


We are always looking for further opportunities to do this more! Our secondees get the opportunity to do different and new things but crucially we learn from them too.


The opportunity to work with a funder and influence their grantmaking and support to charities is fantastic. I am able to bring my experience of running a charity and the very real challenges I have faced”. Victoria, Development Associate. 


The short-term nature of these secondments is not proving to be negative because as Catherine points out


this secondment is unlike any secondment I have experienced before, as I know from the start that it is for a specific term and that it will not lead to a permanent position. This inspires you to deliver the best you can and whilst you feel the clock is ticking, it means that you make every day count”.  


We are a new, small team in the Foundation but we are all passionate about bringing about a fundamental change in the way services for people who face complex social issues are designed, resourced and delivered so they are collectively owned by all those involved. It might take us a little while – so pop back in another 35 years and see if we did it!!

We’d love to hear your memories of partnering with the Foundation. Share them using the hashtag #LBF35.


Listen to this blog

We have recorded a full audio reading of this blog. Listen below.

*Narrated by Jill Baker, Director of Development

Lloyds Bank Foundation at 35

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