Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF) – Delivering positive social change backed by local philanthropy
Hertfordshire is regarded as an affluent county in the UK. It is one of the most urbanised communities while also having a beautiful countryside and fantastic transport links to major cities. Its proximity to London, the largest city and economic centre in the UK means it is also an attractive place for businesses and highly skilled labour. It is widely recognised as the best county in the UK and has a vast number of sights and attractions.
Behind this wonderful image is a deprivation that has been growing over the last decade further exposed by the events of the last year – the covid-19 pandemic. From children living in poverty to fuel poverty to winter deaths to access to medical care to homelessness, there is a massive deprivation crisis hunting our community.
The stats don’t make great reading:
This may come as a surprise to many residents as Hertfordshire is better known for its affluent communities, cathedrals, great schools and the Warner Bros Studios where the iconic Harry Potter films were made. It is also home to some of the largest companies in the UK including Tesco, Ocado, Britvic and many others.
HCF has been at the forefront of leading social change by serving as an instrument that provides support to these communities that are struggling and need assistance.
Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF), an independent registered charity, transforms donor funding into grants and support to local causes that improves the lives of the most vulnerable people in Hertfordshire county. HCF provides options and advice to philanthropists to give effectively to the community. Working with smaller charities, voluntary groups and individuals in Hertfordshire, HCF has the capacity to make your donations count.
As a community foundation supporting Hertfordshire, its objective is to:
Says the Foundation Director, Helen Gray “The past year has been extremely busy and challenging for us. There are more people that need our interventions and our main challenge is having to turn down requests for grants or support. We launched our emergency appeal and emergency grant program to support families and individuals that have been affected by the covid-19 pandemic. We have given out over £2m in the last year.”
HCF has been making social interventions in housing and homelessness, deprivation, health and wellbeing, local crime and safety, education and employment as a way of strengthening our communities.
Armed with local data and knowledge of the areas with deprivation in Hertfordshire, HCF partners various local charities on intervention programmes to uplift these areas in our county. For instance, HCF has been working with Recover, a local charity that provides training opportunities to people facing difficulties from drug or substance abuse and poor mental health. Through a programme that teaches them to upcycle furniture, vulnerable adults can acquire new skills, confidence, fulfilment and purpose. They are also helping protect the environment by reducing waste.
HCF, founded in 1988 is one of the 47 accredited community foundations in the UK, covering Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. Operating from its base in Hatfield, Herts, it is a member of the UK Community Foundations (UKCF), a registered charity that leads a movement of community foundations committed to positive social change in the UK through community philanthropy. UKCF has been operating for the last 30 years.
Community foundations are designed to draw donations from the public into a coordinated investment pool from which grants are made to drive social improvement of an area. The community foundation model was working successfully in the US and was adopted in the UK to promote social change in our communities.
Like most charities, fund raising is key for HCF to sustain its activities in our communities. It is looking to grow its endowment fund by £0.5m in the next year. It also wants to turn back less people that need help. After a record year of funding support from the government and private citizens, it is expected that funding in the voluntary sector will drop. “At a time when there are more mental health issues resulting from isolation and the downturn in the economy, more not less interventions are needed. We can’t lose capacity in the charity sector.”
HCF has had more success in fund raising with local family owned businesses in the area as they have strong ties with the local community and know the area well. It is keen however to expand its footprint by working with professional services organizations like financial advisers, solicitors, accountants, tax managers and wealth managers. “We are not competing with them rather we are complimenting their services.”
There is also a lot of education needed to create the awareness of how and why people fall into difficult circumstances. The general assumption is that people make bad choices and therefore become homeless, suffer addiction or fall into debt. This however is not completely true as it is very easy for anyone to fall into some of these challenging circumstances if there is a loss of employment or income, domestic abuse, medical or personal issues.
“We are encouraging people that want to give in a responsible way to community to partner with HCF. We know the area really well. We have a team of volunteers, part-time and full time staff that work for the foundation. We also have a network of vetted and registered charities that we partner with, all experts in their respective fields. We can take away all the admin that may discourage you from giving. By partnering with us, we’ll make the process seamless.”
Businesses should also be socially responsible and support this cause. HCF is providing an effective platform for giving and channelling the funds to the main areas of need.
If you want to support the great work HCF is doing please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01707 251 351