Camden Council's Equalities and Cohesion Fund

The London Borough of Camden adopted a new approach to supporting and investing in Camden’s Voluntary and Community Sector in 2012, investing up to £6.5 million each year through a mixture of grants and contracts.

The Equalities and Cohesion Fund specifically recognises the role that the VCS plays in both being able to identify and address needs, reducing inequality and increasing cohesion within Camden.

The services provided by the council are funded using a number of options, including grant funding.  The grants programme is based on the ability of the VCS to respond to a theme identified by the council and create a bespoke project to address the need within their neighbourhood. Grass roots projects offer successful and sustainable solutions to emerging and existing needs in a more responsive and effective manner. However, the process remains competitive to guarantee equality across the sector.  Each grantee is monitored for the duration of the grant to ensure the programme is delivered in line with the agreed grant contract.

Their focus is on unlocking and recognising the value of the voluntary sector as equal partners and creating a more sustainable and outcomes focused VCS fit to adapt to the difficult financial climate.

The programme is underpinned by four ‘Guiding Principles’

  • Fostering more collaborative and equal working relationships between the council and the VCS
  • Focusing support (financial or otherwise) on success and innovation
  • A commitment to measuring outcomes and understanding what works
  • Promoting sustainable income streams for Camden’s local VCS

One of the projects funded through the ECF programme is the Camden Society’s Work Train Programme:

The Camden Society’s ‘Work Train’ project provides training and employment to enable people with learning difficulties to become more independent. As well as providing accredited training, information, advice and guidance, employment search and support additional support is provided to enable people with learning disabilities to manage challenges in their everyday lives. Realistic goals setting is an important factor in ensuring people have the best possible chance of achieving and progressing into their chosen career.

During the three years of the project, 22 people have secured paid work and 30 have held volunteer positions – a great achievement for this client group. Many of these jobs are in the hospitality sector as chefs, kitchen assistants and waiters as well as in retail and admin. One person on a work placement at the National Theatre impressed them so much they offered him a position as an usher. Others have found voluntary positions in charity shops, animal welfare and horticulture. The project reached 97 people with learning difficulties.