Sutton Mencap is a local charity which works to improve the lives of people with a learning disability and their carers in the London Borough of Sutton. We provide play, leisure and learning opportunities for children and adults, running services at our base in Wallington and in the wider community.
Sutton Mencap has benefitted greatly from the Sutton Community Fund. This is a grants programme funded by the London Borough of Sutton and managed by Sutton Centre for the Voluntary Sector, offering grants of up to £10,000 towards voluntary/community sector projects that meet local, priority needs. From our perspective, this grants programme combines the following key elements:
- An opportunity for us to work with service users and carers to identify activities which we think will make a real difference.
- A short, straight forward application form, which has a strong focus on outcomes.
- A speedy decision making process.
- An appropriate monitoring and reporting process which allows us to demonstrate our achievements.
As a specific example, Sutton Mencap was recently awarded a grant of £3,800 for a year to provide cookery and dance classes to adults with a learning disability. These are very popular services, helping adults to meet friends and have fun whilst learning about healthy eating and keeping fit. Whilst the size of the grant is relatively small, the impact on Sutton Mencap and its beneficiaries is huge. This grant has enabled us to make a difference to the lives of around 60 adults with a learning disability. It has allowed us to use our expertise in defining the service and target outcomes. The straightforward monitoring process provides a simple way of demonstrating outcomes, without taking our focus away from service delivery.
Sutton Mencap also provides services which are funded through contracts, in particular for nearly all of our services for children and young people. The contract for this work was awarded following a competitive tendering process which involved several weeks of senior management and trustee time, with ongoing participation in contract management processes. Income from the contract is monitored closely as it is determined by the number of referrals we receive. That said, the contract involves a number of providers delivering a range of different services and we can see how a procurement process was appropriate to enable the local authority to purchase the services it needs.
At the same time, we can see how Sutton Community Fund’s grants scheme provides an appropriate, alternative funding mechanism. It gets smaller amounts of funding out quickly to communities where it can make a real and immediate difference. As such we are very grateful for the support we receive from the Fund.