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East London residents take community-led investment policy to Parliament

A group of residents from the borough of Barking & Dagenham launched their pioneering new investment approach at Parliament on Monday 20 June 2022. Alongside this, Barking and Dagenham Council announce new funding commitment.
 
The House of Commons event attended by potential investors and policy makers gave the group a platform to explain how, unlike other social investment, the decisions about how the investment will be managed, invested, and spent will be made by local people.
 
The 12-strong Community Steering Group (CSG), many of whom are working Mums and local business owners, were recruited by the charity BD Giving. The charity tasked the group with learning about social investment, getting consensus on their ambitions for their borough, and developing a robust investment policy for Barking & Dagenham’s Community Endowment Fund.
 
The group had little investment knowledge and experience when they first met. They came together out of a shared desire to influence how investments are made within the borough and to help shape a better future for their families and the community they love. 
 
They received expert advice and support throughout and in line with charity regulations, any decisions they make will be approved by BD Giving’s board of Trustees.

Our borough is a fantastic place that has already attracted considerable investment and together with BD Giving, we have created a lasting legacy that will benefit all of our residents now and for generations to come

In Parliament, members of the group described how, with their new found skills and knowledge, they were best placed to make decisions for their borough. Their obvious commitment to the area and experience of investing into their personal, professional and community endeavours inspired the audience and was rewarded with an announcement from Barking and Dagenham Council of a further half a million commitment to the endowment.
 
After the launch event, one resident said:
 
“We began this journey knowing all about our borough and committed to making a difference. We’ve learnt a lot in the last 9 months and today we sent a message that together we can build a better future for ourselves, our children, and future generations. We’re planting the seeds for something beautiful and fruitful to grow in our borough.”

The money for the Endowment Fund comes from the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy, which is paid by developers of new building projects in the borough and Corporate Social Responsibility payments.

At the event, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership & Engagement of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Saima Ashraf, announced that the £907,000 originally transferred from the council to BD Giving would be supplemented by a further £550,000 taking the Endowment Fund to £1.456m. 

Cllr Ashraf said: 

“Our borough is a fantastic place that has already attracted considerable investment and together with BD Giving, we have created a lasting legacy that will benefit all of our residents now and for generations to come. 

“I know that local people have the drive and the vision to invest and manage the Fund for the changes they want to see, that is why we are giving an additional £550,000 to the Endowment Fund.
 
“This not only demonstrates our Borough’s continued commitment to this approach that puts our residents and community groups first but will also play a key role in supporting them during what are likely to be difficult times ahead.”

BD Giving and the community group want to use the Fund as a vehicle to attract further investment into the borough, which is one of two London boroughs considered to be ‘left behind’. 
 
Barking & Dagenham has a thriving social sector and is a hotbed for community participation. The charity BD Giving’s idea to hand decision making power over to local people is part of their strategy to make sure the people who are affected by funding decisions are involved in making them. 
 
CEO Geraud de Ville de Goyet said:
 
“Today our CSG showed what can happen when a local authority trusts its residents and empowers them to be a part of the solution. 
 
“This is the beginning of something revolutionary, not just for the borough but for the country. We want to attract more investment into the borough so this group of community heroes can manage a growing Fund that creates a lasting legacy for the borough.”
 
The charity’s ambition is that their approach to investment becomes a new form of community power and shows other places what the future of funding could be. They welcome enquiries from other areas of the country to join their movement.