In Conversation With: Camden Giving

This Christmas Regent’s Place is raising funds for Camden Giving, a local charity working to tackle inequality in the borough of Camden. Donations can be made by using the contactless donation machine beside The Giving Trees on the Plaza or online here.
We caught up with Grace Coffey, Head of Partnerships at Camden Giving to learn more about the charity and how your donations will make a difference.

What does Camden Giving do?
Our work is ‘place-based-giving’, meaning we raise money and support from the borough of Camden and then direct that support back out to grassroots projects in Camden; funding things people really need, like food banks, homeless shelters, mental health support and training to help employment. We want Camden to be a brilliant place for everybody who lives, works or plays here. Too many people struggle with money worries, loneliness or access to meaningful opportunities, so we fund projects that try to make things fairer.

We’ve also pioneered ground-breaking ways to make sure local people are leading the change they want to see. Since lockdown began, we’ve supported projects all over the borough, using money that people and businesses have given to pay for thousands of meals and opportunities.

What are the biggest challenges your organisation faces, now and in the coming years?
2020 has been hard for everybody, inequalities that existed before the pandemic have now been exacerbated and we know that people who were already struggling are now worse off.
We want to ensure we keep tackling root causes of inequality and that the amazing support from businesses and residents we have seen during the emergency of the pandemic doesn’t disappear as things slowly return to normal.

How will the funds raised by the Regent’s Place Giving Trees be spent? 
Funding that supports our charity to operate is uncertain, so the support from the magical Giving Trees ensures we can operate as a charity and be here to help our Camden community, responding to what the most urgent need is; like food banks, winter night shelters, tackling loneliness or youth safety.

Can you describe something that you’ve learnt of that has surprised you during the Covid-19 crisis?
Whilst COVID-19 is a Global crisis we have seen the Camden community stop and look more closely at how this is affecting their neighbours, a reminder that global issues are always local issues. The Coronavirus crisis seems to have reminded us all that we can’t reduce the health and happiness of humankind to a spreadsheet, instead we need to show up for people who are part of our communities and do our bit to help.

We’ve also seen how quickly charities have acted quickly during the crisis, without strategies or 3-year plans, we’ve done it because acting as a community is reassuring and feels great. The new networks being formed through mutual aid groups and food delivery networks will still exist in a year and we’re proud to have worked with so many businesses during the pandemic as a united group who just want to help their local community.

Thinking beyond financial donations, how can the wider Regent’s Place community support you?
•    Coaching support for the organisations that we fund
•    Continuing to support with offers of space
•    Links to employment & training for panels – acknowledging that many internal trainings can be adapted quite simply for charities to benefit from them
•    Connecting to the community with young people from an earlier an age – building cultures and education that everybody could belong in a space
•    Supporting staff to volunteer at Camden charities

What are your hopes for the future?
We hope that the power dynamics between local business and charity will continue to shift. Charities have become more specific in the support they need from businesses, seeking strategic support this year to be more virtual to respond to the pandemic. In turn, we hope businesses start looking to charities to learn from some of the most resourceful people out there. Within the first few days of lockdown small charities and community groups re-invented themselves, transforming from sports clubs to food distribution centres, from community gardens to online educators. It didn’t take weeks; it took days and it was effective and we believe businesses of all sizes could benefit from understanding this.

For further information on The Giving Trees or Camden Giving please email info@regentsplace.com

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