Shaftesbury Community Fund Supports First Local Initiatives

Shaftesbury’s recently created Community Fund has made its first disbursements to local charities and community groups in the West End. Over £53,000 has been donated, representing 37% of the Fund, which was established following the decision by its board to reduce their salaries and pension contributions by 20% for three months from April 1.  Shaftesbury’s non-executive directors have made a 20% reduction to their fees for the same period.

The initiatives supported to date by Shaftesbury’s Community Fund include:

  • Hiring a refrigerated unit for three months for North Paddington Foodbank. The unit has enabled the foodbank to store larger quantities of fresh food to supplement tins and packaged food
  • Purchasing a freezer and PPE equipment, and supporting other core running costs of a new Covent Garden Food Bank created by Dragon Hall and Seven Dials Community Centre, held in the Seven Dials Club
  • Supporting a hardship fund set-up by Soho Parish School to provide food vouchers for families struggling financially.  This hardship fund bridges the gap between applying for free school meals and receiving them. Around 20 families have been identified as beneficiaries
  • Funding the purchase of laptops by Soho Parish School for families in need to enable their children to continue to learn remotely and for teachers to allow them to use the appropriate remote learning software to teach their classes online
  • Supporting a learning tools fund created by Camden Council for up to 50 families with limited access to resources.  The fund will buy equipment including laptops, board games and book tokens
  • Paying for materials needed by the Samaritans to make their Central London branch Covid-19 safe for volunteers and staff.  Works included reconfiguring the building to enable social distancing, enhancing ventilation, fitting new locks, providing sanitising products, and installing a larger washing machine

Commenting on the support from the Fund, James Quayle, Manager of the North Paddington Foodbank, said: “The support from Shaftesbury’s Community Fund has allowed us to provide even more help to the many households struggling due to coronavirus. The new fridge means we can hold larger quantities of fruit and vegetables to use within more of our food parcels, improving their nutritional value. We can now also accept the 1,000s of high quality ready meals generously donated every week by restaurants and hotels such as The Ivy and The Berkeley. These are stored then distributed with our food parcels across the community.”

Brian Bickell, Chief Executive of Shaftesbury, added: “Shaftesbury has a long-term commitment to  London’s West End and support for its local community is embedded in our values and strategy. The Community Fund is aiding local partners in this first round of awards to provide help where it is most needed in Westminster and Camden during the current situation. The Fund will be providing further support over the coming weeks to other groups and we encourage any local organisation needing assistance to make contact.”

Shaftesbury has established a Committee to administer the Community Fund so that money is awarded as quickly as possible. The Fund, which will provide support totalling £144,000, is in addition to the Company’s regular support for charities and other not for profit organisations, which in the last financial year totalled £820,0001, equivalent to 1.5% of EPRA earnings.

1. Measured in accordance with London Benchmarking Group guidelines

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