Stonewater launches new Longleigh Foundation to help most vulnerable people hit by welfare cuts

Responding to the impact of Government Budget and welfare cuts affecting some of its most disadvantaged residents, leading social housing provider Stonewater has launched the Longleigh Foundation, a new independent national charity.

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The Foundation, which Stonewater has set up with an endowment of £500,000, will focus on projects which help the elderly, young people, women in crisis due to domestic abuse, and residents with physical or mental disabilities.

“The financial impact on housing associations of recent Budget decisions and policy reform has put immense pressure on our ability to provide enhanced services and support over and above our core offering,” explains George Blunden, Chair of Stonewater, which manages 30,000 homes in the UK. “Stonewater can provide a roof and a place to call home but many people need additional help beyond their initial housing needs. This is what inspired us to establish the Longleigh Foundation, which can work with our most vulnerable residents, supporting them with opportunities to create better lives.”

Longleigh’s grant-giving programme has been broadly split into three areas covering community projects aimed at health and well-being, isolation and inclusion, employment and training; individual hardship cases, and funding for strategic research.

The Foundation has already agreed funding awards for a number of projects. In Southampton, Longleigh is financing an innovative ‘Recovery Toolkit’ programme at Stonewater’s Southampton Women’s Refuge which provides residents in crisis with specialist support and coping strategies for breaking the cycle of domestic abuse. Longleigh is also grant-funding an IT equipment and digital ambassadors scheme to help tackle digital exclusion among older people in its communities, and a project for residents in Stonewater’s supported housing schemes, aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles.

Stonewater is further encouraging its 700+ staff to help raise money for the new Foundation which it will match-fund up to a maximum of £15,000.

“This year, Longleigh’s grant-giving activities will be primarily focused on helping Stonewater communities and residents who are struggling financially through poverty, exclusion, lack of opportunity and lack of skills and qualifications,” says housing consultant Sue Terry, Longleigh Foundation’s Chair and a member of the Stonewater Board. “Our longer-term strategy is to attract further partners and funding for our work through partnerships with other established charities, community groups, businesses and local authorities on projects where we can maximise resources. We’ll be actively looking to develop relationships with these groups over the next few years.”

David Emerson CBE, formerly Chief Executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, who spoke at the launch event, comments: “Trusts and foundations play a vital, but often less recognised role in support of civil society, the strength and diversity of which is one of the great successes of British Society. The Longleigh Foundation is a very welcome addition to this important grant-giving community, and one that will bring a unique perspective and insight from its housing association roots.”

Longleigh Foundation has already started funding projects, and from today will fund Individual Hardship Grants, and small project grants. Full details of the eligibility criteria and the application process can be found at www.longleighfoundation.org