“Quite often the thing that really makes a difference doesn’t fit easily into other funding streams”

Some of the Catalyst Programme partners explain in their own words, how the programme has helped the communities they support.

Jennifer Savage, Pause:

The Catalyst funding has been extremely helpful to the women in Pause. Quite often the thing that really makes a difference doesn’t fit easily in to other funding streams; roller blades or a gym pass to help a woman manage her stress, art supplies to help her discover creative expression, driving lessons to help her gain independence, warm clothes to wear at a rehab centre up North, funding to go abroad and file a divorce, a change of locks to keep a woman safe in her home.

In the past these have been insurmountable obstacles, and with the Catalyst fund we have a way to overcome these barriers. Best of all, the criteria for using the funding is our own professional judgement and with Pause participant’s understanding of her own needs. If she and we think that this purchase could create lasting change, then the criteria has been met. No lengthy applications, no postcode lottery, no trying to manoeuvre a good idea in to restrictive parameters. In addition, it’s extremely helpful to meet with other grantees and discuss how we have used the funds. It creates opportunities for networking and learning, and gives us a chance to challenge and be challenged on how we have used the funds. It’s one of the most innovative and refreshing models I have seen for distributing funding, and I hope it is replicated elsewhere.


Katie Commons, Centre for Refugees:

The Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants works to support asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants from across London to overcome their complex problems and rebuild their lives as full members of the community. Our clients are extremely vulnerable and marginalised, with around 50% experiencing destitution when they first access our services. We work to support them through education and skills development, as well as advice, advocacy, and health and psychosocial activities.

The Catalyst programme has been hugely beneficial for our clients. When clients have overcome crisis and are on their way to full integration, Catalyst grants are crucial to enabling them to take the next step in accessing further or higher education, training, or to get hold of crucial equipment, or pay for travel needed to fully participate in volunteering or beginning employment. Grants assist both those in the asylum system, and those who have secured refugee status. These small grants make a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Roderick Cobley, Peter Bedford:

The Catalyst Programme continues to be an incredibly valuable resource for the people we support and their key workers. Tenants are able to access this funding to achieve their goals and open doors to opportunities that would otherwise be closed to them. Being able to work with tenants to achieve their goals has the added effect of building trust, rapport and positive outcomes for the supportive relationship. As a charity PBHA are hugely appreciative of the fund and hope to continue working together or many years to come.

Ginny Sell, Hillside Clubhouse:

We were given a budget of £10k over 2 years to pay for items or experiences chosen by our members. Grants can be simple, practical things such as a passport to use as identification or payment for a course to be able to get into a real job. But it could also be something less ‘goal’ oriented too, art materials to lift the mood, gym membership with some decent kit to wear to feel more confident about going, or a cheap mobile to be able to keep in touch with the council and family.

Kamini Kaul, Help on Your Doorstep:

Catalyst funding enables Help on your Doorstep to give grants to Islington residents to help them make positive changes to their lives. We use the funding to support people with long term health conditions, people who are vulnerable, isolated and on a low income.

Since 2015 Help on your Doorstep has awarded a total of nearly £10,000 in Catalyst grants to 31 Islington residents. Our clients use the grants to help them achieve personal development and aspirational goals. The grants provide financial support to help residents improve their skills, learning, employment opportunities and to make the most of their existing talents and experience.

Clients who have been awarded a grant tell us the impact of the support is that they

  • feel more motivated to take action
  • have increased confidence
  • feel more engaged in life and
  • have a sense of purpose.

For example, a client assisted by a Catalyst grant has been able to return to full-time work and now gives back to his local community by helping local residents get fit by holding box fit classes.

He says, “The grant has made a big difference to my life. 100% better improved. I am happier in myself and now I get to do what I really love at work and in my own time.”

You can read more about the Catalyst Programme. Or if you’d like to replicate it in your area, please get in touch with us at grants@cripplegate.org.uk

Or watch our Catalyst film. If you want to help us spread the word about the Catalyst Programme, share this blog in your social media channels and use #IslingtonCatalyst.

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