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Announcing the Covid-19 Catalyst Award funded projects

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  • Catalyst
  • Fellowship
  • Fellowship in Action
  • Social innovation

In April, the RSA launched a round of Catalyst Award funding for projects run by RSA Fellows that were responding to the impact of Covid-19. We are pleased to announce the 20 projects that have been awarded funding. 

We received a phenomenal response to the call. We had planned to give out 10 awards of £2,000 of seed funding. There were so many remarkable projects submitted, we doubled the fund to make 20 awards.

This was a global call. We aimed to prioritise projects that could respond to direct need immediately but also show a strategy to scale beyond the immediate pandemic response period. We also wanted to see embedded collaborative working and a design-led approach to social change as much as possible.

Setting aside the shocking circumstances in which these awards have been made, we are excited to be enabling these projects. We find great reassurance in the extent of the good work our Fellows are catalysing to support their communities and the wider world as the crisis continues to unfold.

Congratulations to the exceptional projects listed below.

Projects supporting marginalised or underrepresented communities

  • Accumulate use creativity to empower and increase the wellbeing and mental health of homeless people. The organisation works with hostels and housing organisations and delivers workshops in visual art, photography, fashion and other creative disciplines. Funding will support specially prepared ‘Art Kits for the Homeless’. (Lead Fellow: Marice Cumber FRSA)
  • Inclusive Entrepreneurs works with entrepreneurs with protected characteristics, particularly disabled entrepreneurs. Their online programme is a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on members, who have seen their businesses decimated as a direct result of lockdown measures. (Lead Fellow: Jacqueline Winstanley FRSA)
  • The Don't Sleep On Us community provides people from minority backgrounds who otherwise feel a lack of belonging with a space to feel seen, heard and understood. The significant impact of Covid-19 on people from BAME backgrounds means the community is keen to stay connected to share tools and ensure people stay safe, nourished and uplifted. (Lead Fellow: Neelam Keshwala FRSA)
  • Window Wanderland is a creative initiative which connects local people, reducing isolation and establishing stronger communities. Grounded in the project lead’s experience of isolation due to chronic illness, the organisation has worked to help the most vulnerable feel safer and more connected to their neighbours, especially in areas of social deprivation. (Lead Fellow: Lucy Reeves Khan FRSA)
  • Moria refugee camp on the Island of Lesbos faces a desperate situation as the threat of Covid-19 looms. RSA funding is supporting this PPE Project to protect camp inhabitants and medical staff, in which refugee volunteers are making reusable masks and gowns using donated sewing machines. (Lead Fellow: Helen Zahos FRSA)

Projects working to ensure a fair education, particularly bridging gaps in lack of access to education provision

  • Team Up delivers in-person small group tuition to underachieving disadvantaged young people in Maths and English using volunteer tutors trained by qualified teachers. 65% of participating pupils are on free school meals and many more have other indicators of disadvantage. (Lead Fellow: David Walker FRSA)
  • Boromi ("Borrow-Me") is a Leicestershire grown, multi award-winning network of in-school play libraries. With schools and nurseries closed, home learning support is needed to ensure that children from the most vulnerable homes across the country do not miss out on vital education. RSA funding will provide free ‘Keepmi’ home learning activity boxes. (Lead Fellow: Evie Keough FRSA)
  • The NACUE “No Fear” Programme will help fearless young entrepreneurs, predominantly those leaving higher education this year or who graduated recently, who have experienced a significant loss of opportunity for work and life experiences. (Lead Fellow: Timothy Barnes FRSA)

Projects enabling people-led health, care and local services 

  • Keep It Zesty aims to improve mental health outcomes for young people in Northern Ireland. Leveraging creative skills and collaborating with the arts community, the group produce engaging content and provide wellbeing advice from professionals tailored to a target audience. (Lead Fellow: Emilio Chiquito FRSA)
  • Mearns Kirk Helping Hands is providing much-needed support to older people in East Renfrewshire. The service has adapted to offer online tai chi classes, befriending, and other remote options, including regular IT courses on Zoom, with a view of increasing tech capability within the community and reducing isolation. (Lead Fellow: Vicki Irving FRSA)
  • The Autism Dialogue network creates online discussion spaces for autistic people, their families, and people working and researching in this area. The initiative provides an opportunity for a group of people significantly impacted by Covid-19 who have very limited available support at this time. The network is international, and the sessions are specifically designed and expertly facilitated to bring members of the autism community together in dialogue. (Lead Fellow: Jonathan Drury FRSA)
  • Swansea Co-Housing is interrogating structural problems of social isolation, poverty, poor housing and lack of public space as highlighted by the pandemic, with the aim of building community resilience. The group works with multiple community organisations, including homeless charities, carers' centres, housing associations, nursing homes and food banks. (Lead Fellow: Jennifer Twelvetrees FRSA)

Projects encouraging stronger economic support for individuals and families

  • Doorstep Collective is a network for emergency deliveries to vulnerable and self-isolating households, which is scalable and replicable nationwide. Funding will support the expansion of the network and the scaling up of several other groups and operations across the country. (Lead Fellow: Rich Mason FRSA)
  • WD Covid-19 Emergency Response provides holistic support for households vulnerable to food insecurity on the Woodberry Down estate and surrounding area in North London. Funding will contribute towards a dedicated Covid-19 Emergency Aid Coordinator ensuring that support organisations and offers are effectively joined up. (Lead Fellow: Valy Thorsteinsdottir FRSA)
  • Women In Travel works with women in the travel tourism and hospitality sectors, which are being significantly impacted by Covid-19. WIT is running free facilitated mentoring circles open to vulnerable women previously employed by these industries. RSA funding will support the expansion of these circles. (Lead Fellow: Alessandra Alonso FRSA)

Projects supporting investment in communities at scale

  • United World Schools provides access to education in remote regions of Cambodia, Myanmar, and Nepal. Funding will support the training and salaries of community teachers in 10 remote communities in Cambodia, enabling rapid response initiatives to support around 7,500 people in managing the risk of Covid-19. (Lead Fellow: Tim Howarth FRSA)
  • Nuestro Pueblo (‘Our Village’) provides much-needed support to independent businesses in Seven Sisters Market in London as they cope with the impacts of Covid-19. They seek to connect the local community with traders (many of whom are migrant workers) by cementing relationships and identifying new commercial opportunities. (Lead Fellow: David McEwan FRSA)
  • Back & Fill supports the fragile economy of seaside towns. The team are prototyping a scalable festival in Margate, creating a focal point for scheduled events that have been cancelled due to Covid-19, and developing a toolkit for replication in seaside towns elsewhere. (Lead Fellow: Kate Kneale FRSA)

Projects focusing on a future that protects people and planet

  • ALYVE UK is supporting local youth forums in Scotland by providing a series of small grants to facilitate them in understanding young people’s experiences, views and opinions with regards to the impact of Covid-19 through research or consultation in order to advocate on their behalf. (Lead Fellow: Huw Sherrard FRSA)
  • Nature Nurture connects people with nature to improve health and wellbeing, and increase environmental awareness. The group are creating Mindful Mouse activities for vulnerable families isolated at home, working with primary schools who are safeguarding children. (Lead Fellow: Natalie Ganpatsingh FRSA)

In the months ahead we’ll share blogs from these supported projects, to update on how their work is unfolding. In the meantime, you can find out more about RSA Catalyst Award funding opportunities as they become available.

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  • A fabulous range of projects. We would love to see the recipients come together for online dialogues, is this something others would be interested in (and a possibility for RSA) and something we could get involved with at Dialogic Action CIC?

  • Very interesting to  read about all the work that is going on. Just wondered if anyone has thought about a Resource Bank of books and educational materials to support the projects such as United World Schools  in developing  countries.  I am acutely aware of a number of people (including myself), who don't know what to do with thousands of valuable books and audio visual materials which are gathering dust in their garages. Personally I hate to throw them in recycling bins but don't  know how to find an outlet for them to be used productively. All suggestions welcome.

    • Hi Ranjit,  in my "neck of the woods" in Oxfordshire, some folk have set up an organisation called CRAG (Charlbury Refugee Action Group).  They have concerts and events to raise money for the refugees in Calais which is then sent to carefully screened organisations there.

      CRAG also sells books and other materials and this has been a very successful enterprise raising several hundred pounds for refugees to improve their living standards, healthcare, and safety.  The books etc. are sold locally, and the money sent to the NGOs.

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