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A few resources I’d recommend this week about anti-racist work, readings etc.

This is excellent in terms of detailing how white supremacy culture is upheld in a work place.

And this is an immense resource in terms of reading — a Black History Month library.

What I’ve been doing

  • I continue to steward different funding papers and assessments, and next week I’m back on one of the decision-making panels so that has meant needing to read over 100 assessment papers the last few days. Since 1 April, we have received 14,700 applications, which is 2.5 times more than at this point last year. This includes 990 new grantees, 62% of which are micro and small organisations.
  • I have only been in 10 hrs of internal meetings this week, which is definitely better than last weeks. A much better balance.
  • I joined a cross-fund meeting with Comms, Engagement and Policy teams from the four different countries. Since Faiza joined, it’s been great to see more being done to link this Directorate up with programmes across the Fund, and to think together about how we do strategic communications, engagement and influencing work.
  • It’s also ‘grant forecasting’ time in the Fund. We have to do this every 3 months, and so this week I not only had an introduction to it as part of my new role, but then worked with Nigel in my team to do the UK Portfolio grant forecasting up until 2025. I actually love spreadsheets. People like to assume those with creative backgrounds aren’t good at numbers but I got A’s for maths at both GCSE and A Level, and I know from running my own business that financial forecasting is in part guess work and storytelling too.
  • This week we had Angela Eden join my team twice. On Monday to do an introduction to social dreaming, and on Friday to do a social dreaming matrix with the team.
  • I caught up with Rachel and Gill about the Glimmers project that we funded before Covid. Later in the week they published this blog and I love the latest framing for this work — Let’s Occupy Technology with Love.
  • Catching up with other Foundations and funders is important at the moment, especially to talk about longer-term plans. This week it was Kitty from Luminate, Alice from Lankelly Chase, and Paul from Indigo Trust. The conversation with Paul also reignited my plans to do more around better practice in grant making, as set out here.
  • I did 6 more interviews this week for our filmed Pockets of the Future series, which I hope we’ll start to share next week.
  • On Wednesday morning I gave a talk to Cambridge University’s Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence about Beyond Human Centred Design. I loved this, met some new people, geeked out about the role of design and narrative work in collective intelligence, other forms of intelligence, and embodied knowing.
  • The next day I was meant to be giving a talk about Social Innovation Leadership to a group convened by the Cabinet Office as part of this programme. Unfortunately my Wi-Fi was so dodgy that I didn’t quite make it.
  • That same day I also co-facilitated with Baljeet Sandhu and Gemma Mortensen an internal workshop bringing together a group of people and organisations across the UK who are doing systemic and transformative work, as part of us looking ahead.
  • On Friday I convened a group of Foundations from the EDGE Europe Funders Network. This was off the back of a conversation with Romy, and me sending out an email to the network a few weeks back, to suggest we regularly gather to learn from each other as we develop adaptive, future-focussed funding strategies. I welcome this kind of peer support at the moment, and also to be able to learn from Europe-wide funders.
  • Later that day, alongside Nick, I co-facilitated the first of our design workshops for the ACF Funders’ Collaborative Hub. We had 16 different Trusts and Foundations there, and it was such a brilliant session, starting to unpick the different perceptions and behaviours we have around better alignment in how we fund. I’m really excited about the potential of this work to shift funder practice to be more collective and systemic over the longterm.
  • A ritual on a Friday afternoon during the crisis has been the sense-making sessions as part of the Scanning + Sensing Network. From 3–4.30pm it’s become a place to download from the week, meet colleagues from across the Fund, and reflect on, and synthesise data. Both data from interviews we are doing and data from our own lives and experience. This Friday we did a reflection on the last 8 weeks, and will be taking a pause next week, to restart the sessions with a fortnightly rhythm instead. Don’t forget we created an open toolkit for doing Scanning + Sensing here.
  • With any little windows of time I’ve had this week, I’ve tried to dip in to some of the Civic Square/ Dept of Dreams Festival. It’s been so well curated and I look forward to when all the sessions become available online. Not only was it powerful to see so many people I know curated as speakers, and their ideas woven together in one space so that alternative systems seem both possible and plausible, it also helped legitimise some of the work I’m trying to do at The National Lottery Community Fund. It’s not been easy to demonstrate that it’s possible to both care about, pay attention to, respect and invest in the present crisis, and also think longer-term, creating the space and resource to keep active hope alive. I think Dept. of Dreams has been an exemplar of how to hold these contradictions. Joy and sadness, hope and loss, grief and possibility, rage and love, and so forth.

What’s been important this week

I found out on Friday that Paul Hamlyn Foundation have given the Stewarding Loss work some additional funding. I am really glad for this because the work is needed so much. I also should say that the process — two pages of A4 submitted, and a week to hear back about the funding decision is a brilliant example of how funding should work.

What I’ve learned this week

I wanted to share what some of my colleagues across The National Lottery Fund fed back this week when we checked in on how the Scanning + Sensing Network was going.

“It’s been great to have the space to think about things in a different way.”

“It’s been a really different way of thinking and framing questions.”

“We do so little that is Fund wide, so breaking down the silos has been great.”

“I have connected more with colleagues outside of Wales and it’s been good to feel my voice has been heard.”

“There isn’t another space like this in the Fund, where you get a view of another form of analysis and get to use new tools. “

“It’s been a space where we can be honest and say what we are feeling. We can share and are not being judged.”

“I’ve valued that our ideas and experience is being valued. We often outsource this kind of work too expensive consultants but it’s been really empowering to do interviews with grant holders ourselves.”

I’ve found the last few weeks particularly hard and realised this weekend, after some helpful conversations with friends, that I need to reconnect to what my purpose is in the long run. I’ve always believed that your life’s work and purpose should be much bigger than any one organisation’s purpose, and these Solidarity Is provocations have been helpful to revisit this week.

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Run UK Portfolio at National Lottery Community Fund, Co-founder of the Point People, Policy Fellow IIPP, Founder Stewarding Loss, International Futures Forum.

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