Celebrating Pathways to Progress on London’s Estates
By Rachael Barber, Head of Community Development, EMEA May 04, 2016 09:30 AM
As an organization that does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions, we consider it our responsibility to support the cities and communities where we live and work. Within those communities we’ve identified high potential individuals and organizations transforming low-income communities by bringing together residents, nonprofits, businesses, and municipal agencies to accelerate urban progress and drive economic opportunity.
That’s why, as part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, we announced a partnership last year with the London Evening Standard and the London Community Foundation to invest £500,000 in "The Estate We’re In,” an urban transformation project that empowers residents of housing estates in London to identify the issues they regard as important and implement their own ideas to transform their neighborhoods and their lives.
With additional funding from the Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund, the Cabinet Office, Linklaters and Mount Anvil, over £1 million has now been invested in more than 100 community organisations in 23 London boroughs. Last month I had the opportunity to meet many of these organisations when we hosted a reception to celebrate their work at Citi’s offices in London.
It was an inspiring evening. The issues being tackled are tough and entrenched, but the commitment and determination of the individuals and groups to deliver solutions to the challenges London’s housing estate residents face is extraordinary and uplifting.
The need to support young people in London has never been higher. Many of the groups I spoke to shared stories of the impact of gang violence, extremism, sexual exploitation and lack of employment opportunities, leaving many young people disenfranchised, disconnected and at risk. The Citi Foundation’s recent Accelerating Pathways research shows that while local government support for young people is among the best in the world, London still has a long way to go before it can fulfil the education and training needs of many of its younger citizens.
It was therefore inspiring to hear about the sheer number and range of projects being supported through “The Estate We’re In.” From vital work engaging young people at risk of gang violence through sport, the arts and creation of safe spaces; to those delivering vital employability and entrepreneurship skills training, as well as mentoring support. The sheer diversity of approach will undoubtedly be one of the strengths of the programme and I am certain much will be learnt about the most effective solution to these challenging problems, not just in London but around the world.
It was also incredibly valuable to hear how important volunteers are to these programmes. “The Estate We’re In” has seen an unprecedented response from Citi staff wanting to take part. Several volunteer activities have already been organized in support of community projects on the Angell Town Estate in Brixton, and we are looking forward to working alongside our other partners on the project in the coming months.
This is an exciting programme to be involved in and I feel privileged to be involved. Not only are the grants enabling community organisations to change lives, but the Evening Standard’s coverage has also significantly raised awareness of the issues amongst a much wider audience. I look forward the evolution of this unique partnership and learning more about the impact on the lives of so many Londoners.
Jenny Grey, Citi Head of HR in EMEA; Shanice Shields from Dwaynamics and James Bardrick Citi UK CEO at the reception to celebrate the work of the community organisations participating in ‘The Estate We’re In’ project