Needless to say, 2020 has been a tough year. This month, with our partner Sovereign Housing, we want to draw attention to some of the good moments of 2020 and those who have crowdfunded to make a difference.

Our partnership enables communities within three miles of Sovereign housing areas to raise money with the help of additional match funding to make a difference in the lives of local residents.

We know that so many feel the strength of a community can depend on connection with local people, and the infrastructure that’s there to support it. Coronavirus, and the impacts of lockdown, has meant that we needed to find new ways to connect and find a sense of togetherness.

Connecting families through technology – iComms for ICUs

The iComms for ICUs crowdfunding campaign, was set up by the family of a nurse called Lucy, who with her colleagues at her hospital was desperately trying to find a solution to the communication difficulties faced by healthcare staff and patients during the COVID 19 pandemic”. 

Citing the case of Matt Dockray, a 39 year old man who contracted a severe case of the coronavirus, iComms for ICUs tells the importance of enabling connectivity between the very sick, their families and the medical team looking after them. This charity has been raising funds to supply ICUs in hospitals all over the UK with iPad technology.

iComms for ICUs ran a successful crowdfunding campaign raising over £6,000 including £2,000 from The Sovereign Thriving Communities Fund. Matt, who has now recovered explained to SKY NEWS that “the technology is a hand-hold. It is that conversation where someone can say ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m thinking about you’ which a text message doesn’t do”.

At a time when visiting is difficult to impossible, this technology has maintained the connection between families. According to iComms, in some very tragic cases, it has also allowed “patients to speak to their loved ones for the last time and say goodbye”.  

The evolution of empty spaces into community assets – St Sidwell’s Community Centre 

Space is a valuable commodity. Despite their value, spaces that could be of great use often remain empty. The high street has had its fair share of challenges over the last decade. Yet, while consumer habits continue to shift and change, central locations like these can retain their usefulness to the local people.

St Sidwell’s Community Centre in the heart of Exeter is home to a range of inclusive programmes to support people who live in the area. Among these programmes is the St Sidwell Street Bakehouse, a volunteering opportunity for anyone in Exeter who would like to learn the craft of making real bread. The demand for their services increased dramatically over the pandemic and by adapting to deliver “Covid-safe home deliveries” they delivered bread to up to 50 households each week with a minimum order of just £5.

“We were operating above capacity, and we could only meet this level of demand thanks to volunteer delivery riders, and by using rooms in the rest of the community centre while it was closed”.

The opportunity presented itself for the bakehouse to grow, to increase their production and the number of trainee volunteers they could take on at once. With an unused retail space until only a stone’s throw away, they decided to relocate their busy community Bakehouse and Cookery School and re-invent what was an empty space into “a thriving community hub”.

The Bakehouse ran a crowdfunding campaign in November to raise the remaining funds needed to convert the space. They successfully raised over £8,000 from 154 supporters including a pledge of £2,000 from The Sovereign Thriving Communities Fund.

Due to the pandemic, many people will have suffered job losses. St Sidwell Street Bakehouse wants “to provide more employment opportunities and help people retrain and learn new skills”. 

The new space will enable people to meet (socially distanced) and enjoy all of the benefits of being with others, while they learn the craft of making excellent bread.

The Sovereign Thriving Community Fund has so far backed 21 different projects, you can see them here and find out more about the +Extra funding available.

If you’ve got a community project that’s based within three miles of a Sovereign Housing development, you may be eligible for up to £10,000 in +Extra Funding.

Start a crowdfunding campaign today and help strengthen your community.