Kristina Glenn, director of the Cripplegate Foundation and Islington Giving, illustrates the great work happening in her borough and calls on people across London to collaborate to tackle their shared challenges.
Life is complex. No one’s personal and professional lives are exclusively limited to the public, charitable or private sector domains. We all live and work in places and the health of these places affects how we think and feel about ourselves.
Do we feel safe when we’re at home? Are our professional and personal environments healthy? Are the services we need available? Are we proud of where we live?
By working collaboratively, we can harness different talents and approaches and draw on everyone’s expertise and knowledge. We know that our impact is greatest when we work together. That’s why partnerships are crucial to creating places where we want to live and work – places where we are able to live our best lives.
What we’re doing in Islington
Islington Giving, a groundbreaking collaboration of businesses, residents, charitable organisations and funders came together in 2010 as ‘unusual suspects’ to tackle the stubborn issues of poverty and inequality in Islington.
We aim to make Islington a place where everyone can thrive. Islington has the third highest level of child poverty in the country, the highest levels of depression in London and one of the shortest life expectancies of men in the capital. Much of this is invisible.
Until now, local and international businesses - ranging from Macquarie and Expedia to local restaurants, Arsenal Football Club, residents, funders and local voluntary organisations - have come together to shine a light on the inequality and taking steps to resolve it. Together, they are making a difference in their own backyard.
Islington Giving takes practical action through investing in good organisations, fundraising and networking. Underpinning Islington Giving is deep local knowledge and commitment to collaboration.
Since 2010, Islington Giving has raised almost £6 million, invested in 60 organisations, which have supported 20,000 residents, and recruited over 4,000 volunteers. We are proud to bring new resources and opportunities into the borough.
Crucially, Islington Giving helps change lives. Islington Giving cannot tackle poverty and inequality alone but it can unlock opportunities to do so by encouraging and empowering cross-sector and organisational collaboration. Islington Giving challenges public and voluntary sector organisations to put residents first and run interesting and exciting activities at times that suit and in welcoming, friendly places. This means weekends rather than Monday mornings for older people and school holidays for children and families.
London’s organisations can help deliver positive change in the city
Collaboration is key to effecting change. There are so many opportunities to work with others in London. Aligning values and taking time to developing good partnerships are central to success.
Islington Giving established Businesses for Islington Giving (BIG) Alliance in 2014. It has recruited 16 large businesses to mentor young people and offer skilled support to voluntary organisations. In 2017, the BIG Alliance worked with 47 community organisations, bringing the collective energy and experience of 1,169 volunteers, who gave 5,513 hours of their time. A conservative estimate of the value of this volunteering time is £100,998.
There is always a business case for working together. Businesses are now using their community involvement to recruit and retain staff and develop skills. Some businesses have incorporated volunteering as part of their appraisal system. Harnessing businesses’ skills and talent is essential to creating about real change in the workplace and at home.
Working together we can tackle what otherwise can be seen as insurmountable issues. As partners and collaborators, we can build, sustain and develop places that we are proud of and allow everyone to realise their potential.