Our Endowment Fund

The purpose of our Endowment Fund is to support children, health and local community projects primarily within the geographic area of Hertfordshire but also Bedfordshire. During 2023, we received a wide range of project applications for funding. We’re committed to supporting a diverse variety of applications and each submission is assessed against specific criteria. We analyse the positive and direct impact the project will have for local people and the community. All our grants have been delivered in collaboration with Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF), an independent countywide charity that provides grant support to local grassroots organisations and to children and families in crisis by encouraging local philanthropy. HCF helps identify and research suitable projects for us to fund in line with our areas of priority.

We take great pride in the work we do in the local communities, our volunteering for local charities and also the fundraising our colleagues do for causes close to their heart. Take a look below at some of the work we have recently done within our local communities.

View our most recent grants and their story below. 

Leeanna’s Wish

Leeanna’s Wish was inspired by Cleo Leeanna, who lost her fight with cancer in 2016. The charity was set up by Leeanna’s sister who wanted to help achieve Leeanna’s ultimate dream of helping people in her local community.

Leeanna’s Wish provides support for protected groups living in and around St Albans. From grass roots level to influencing social policy, they are dedicated to combatting inequality. Their principal aim is to enable those most at risk of social exclusion to develop essential life skills and access a range of services in the wider community. Their projects enable young people to develop the tools that they need to feel more confident to have their say in their own future. The charity creates safe spaces and environments where individuals can learn, play, create and develop their life skills to access future opportunities in education and work and have successful lives. Their inter-generational programmes aim to engage, empower, and promote social interaction and friendships.

Our grant of £5,000 will be used towards the running and staff costs of the thriving Saturday Club that the charity runs. The Saturday Club supports children/young people aged 10-16 from in and around Sopwell (an area with higher than average levels of deprivation). These young people are more likely to face significant challenges which may result in bullying, social exclusion and poor health. Saturday Club is provided weekly in term-time at a school in Sopwell. Sessions are free of charge and last for 2 hours. The Club provides several activities concurrently to ensure that there is something to engage everyone. This includes games, sport, art, and music.

Saturday Club is a safe space and a welcoming, inclusive environment where participants can try new things and it’s safe to fail. Staff bring wisdom, fun, and unique skills whilst using activities as tools of engagement. Whilst the young people are engaged, staff talk informally about issues which may be impacting their wellbeing – racism, discrimination at school, emotional wellbeing, triggers etc. Around 30 young people attend weekly.

The charity has other projects too, including a weekly Community Cafe, monthly Friday Night Socials, Friday Cinema Café (warm spaces), Empower Women’s Football sessions and numerous other community events.

Leeanna’s Wish was a finalist in the 2022 Mayor’s Pride Awards for Cultural Innovation. They also received the Prime Ministers points of light award in 2023, and further featured in a book as a result of the impact of their women's football programme https://www.amazon.co.uk/Homecoming-Lionesses-Football-Perfect-Celebrate/dp/1801504849. In addition, they received a commendation for the 2023 BBC make a difference award in the together category.

We are thrilled to provide this grant to Leeanna’s Wish and fully enjoyed our recent visit which saw us view their community café in action and learning all about the Saturday club.

To find out more, you can visit the Leeanna’s Wish website here: https://www.leeannaswish.org/

Harpenden Connect

Harpenden Connect provides, operates and maintains transport facilities for the people in the AL5 area (Harpenden, Hertfordshire), including those who have the special need of such facilities because they are elderly, on low income, disabled, parents or guardians of young children or those living where there are inadequate public transport facilities.

Harpenden Connect runs 5 days per week, Monday through to Friday. The service is continuing from its foundation in 2017 and is a fully functional and extremely reliable offering to the people of Harpenden. Harpenden Town Council supports the service with a leasing agreement for two modern minibuses with Harpenden Connect Limited.

The service, known as the Harpenden Hopper, covers the length and breadth of the town, encompassing the main outlying residential areas as well as an inner town loop. The route has been designed to bring passengers into the town centre as rapidly as possible, and allows ample time for shopping, or visits to the library or doctors, and then to return home efficiently, too. Harpenden Connect (Harpenden Hopper) also works with Harpenden Town Council and other local charities, for example, the Harpenden Trust and YWAM and other community groups. They provide local transport services to these organisations for ad-hoc social and cultural events.

Some of the positive changes this project makes include:

  • Continuing to provide support to vulnerable communities leading towards greater equality within the District
  • Enable local people to become involved in community life
  • Encourage people from different groups to get on well together
  • Reduces the volume of cars within the town, having a positive environmental impact

Our grant of £4,000 will help allow the charity to maintain its reserves. They face rising insurance and maintenance costs, and minibus leasing costs may rise due to future aspirations for replacing one of the minibuses with an electric vehicle. Funds would also then be required to install the necessary charging equipment. We are thrilled to be supporting a charity on our doorstep and look forward to continuing to see the Hopper bus going round town.

Open Door

Open Door is a community-run space that is set up to serve the community of Berkhamsted and its surrounding villages, in essence the community helping itself. The reach of Open Door is extensive, bringing in customers from the surrounding towns of Tring, Chesham and Hemel Hempstead.

Open Door is open to all within the community and is particularly focused on dealing with isolation and social inequality. They provide these services in their premises and in their community garden when the weather permits. Open Door has developed the range of services that it offers in direct response to the requests and feedback that come from the community.

On Berkhamsted high street, Open Door has a beautiful "secret garden" at the back of the property. It provides the perfect place for the community to meet and to engage in a range of activities that are hosted by Open Door. There is no other place in Berkhamsted or the surrounding area quite like it.

Our grant of £4,800 will contribute towards phase one of Open Door’s seasonal work for their exciting ‘Community Garden Project’. This work will ensure the garden is not only beautiful and nurturing but also safe and as accessible as possible. The key purpose of the Community Garden is to provide space to bring the community together across a range of different activities, sharing the joys of a garden and of gardening. For many who may feel isolated or who suffer from social inequality, the garden will provide the stimulation and relaxation that can really make a difference. The project will be delivered in a safe and sustainable manner, working under the strapline of "Growing together”.

Open Door also hosts a range of different groups, including the Memory Cafe (for people suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's and other memory-related issues). They host a series of other isolation support groups, many of whom engage in activities. For example, Open Door has, for the last year, hosted a Berkhamsted Ukrainian Community Group plus their associated English lessons and have a series of food projects which not only tackle food wastage but deal with food poverty. Additionally, Open Door host a massively successful Repair Cafe once per month, where they not only repair and extend the life of items, but contribute significantly to reduced CO2 emissions and the prevention of items going to landfill.

To find out more, you can visit Open Doors website here: https://www.opendoorberkhamsted.co.uk/

Youth Talk

Youth Talk are a St Albans based charity that provides confidential counselling/ psychotherapy to 13–25-year-olds who live, work and/ or attend school/college in the District of St Albans and surrounding areas. We have a multi-year commitment with them which allows Youth Talk to provide free counselling, both digitally and in person, to young people with mental health issues.

Since 1997 thousands of young people have trusted Youth Talk to help them. Over the last two years all of our lives have changed. Young people in particular have faced unprecedented demands, disruptions and uncertainties and demand for Youth Talks free, confidential counselling service has reached unprecedented and worrying new heights.

Youth Talk’s vision: Every young person can talk to someone who can help with whatever’s worrying them.

Youth Talk’s mission: To provide the best possible mental health support to young people in St Albans and surrounding areas.

Recently Youth Talk have moved premises which has been an essential part of their five year strategy for growth. This now gives them the space needed to begin to increase the number of young people they can support over the coming years. In 2022, Youth Talk were able to offer over 4,000 counselling sessions to local young people in need of help – but more is needed. The move means that Youth Talk has seen an increase from four to eight individual therapy rooms as well as giving the space to offer group counselling sessions in the future.

Over the next five years, some key areas of focus for Youth Talk are:

1. Growing the service

  • Double the total number of counselling sessions offered
  • Introduce a group-based counselling provision
  • Invest in additional counselling resource & clinical supervisors

2. Extending the reach

  • Ensuring support for 17–19-year-olds during any transition period when moving to University
  • Focus on encouraging under-represented groups to access the service

3. Platforms for growth

  • Ensuring Youth Talk have appropriate provision in IT, clinical systems, supporter database and other necessary infrastructure to support their growth plans
  • Invest in fundraising resource in order to significantly grow income
  • Invest in and develop a volunteer programme to support volunteer-led fundraising

Over the past two years we have also worked closely with Youth Talk for Mental Health Awareness Weeks in 2022 and 2023. Here we have provided our audience and internal colleagues with content surrounding the importance of mental health for young people, especially in today’s climate where growing up has never been so challenging.

We are delighted to see the growth of Youth Talk over recent years and are proud that our multi-year commitment has contributed towards young people getting the service and support they so desperately need.

To find out more about Youth Talk, you can visit their website here: https://youthtalk.org.uk/


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