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New VCSE business support programme launched

Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, has launched a new £850,000 programme providing business support and core cost grants to voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in communities nationwide.
Phil Miles

The Resilience Programme will be delivered by Clarion Futures in partnership with Places for People and the Fusion21 Foundation which was set up as a registered charity to help build brighter futures for the communities that national procurement provider Fusion21 operates in.

All three partners will be funding the programme which aims to build the capacity and capability of grassroots VCSE organisations, helping to deliver greater impact for the communities they serve.

In addition to reaching communities where Clarion, Places for People and the Fusion21 Foundation have a presence, other housing associations are invited to refer organisations who would benefit from support, helping to increase the reach and impact of the programme.

For each organisation enrolled in the programme, an expert team of charity consultants will identify areas of need and develop a bespoke, targeted plan to help them to move forwards. This could include anything from support with governance and structure, fundraising and strategy through to understanding community need and volunteering.

The launch of this programme follows the success of Clarion Futures’ Recovery and Resilience Programme, designed to offer business development support and capacity building as part of its commitment to investing in grassroots organisations working in Clarion communities. Working in partnership with Almond Tree Strategic Consulting, one of the organisations that received support was the Ethnic Minority Centre which aims to improve the quality of life of black and minority ethnic communities living or working in Merton.

Sabitri Ray, Project Director at the Ethnic Minority Centre, said: “The pandemic hit our group badly as all our health and wellbeing and education projects stopped and our charity’s fight for survival began. The support of Clarion Futures and Almond Tree has helped keep our heads above water, helping us to recover, develop and strengthen our organisation and improve our fundraising strategy and financial planning. Their support means we’re in a much stronger position looking to the future, enabling us to deliver new projects that are needed now to help members of the BAME communities in the London Borough of Merton.”

Phil Miles, Director of Clarion Futures, said: “Getting funding to communities that need it in a fair way that creates lasting and positive change can be challenging, and that’s where the idea for this programme came from. Working with Places for People and the Fusion21 Foundation we aim to reach organisations that can make a real difference to people in our communities nationwide, transforming lives and improving neighbourhoods.

“Many grassroots organisations are at breaking point due to a perfect storm of increased demand and the impact of the cost of living crisis, so we hope to provide vital support to meet immediate needs and help partners to develop plans for a brighter future.”

Marcus Hulme, Director of Places Impact at Places for People, said: “At our core we change lives by creating and supporting thriving communities and the Resilience Programme will help us achieve this by working closely with grassroots organisations to deliver real and positive change within our communities. We are delighted to be partnering with Clarion Futures and the Fusion21 Foundation who share our common vision of working together to create impactful change for the better of our communities and customers.”

Jo Hannan, Head of Fusion21 Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to support such a worthwhile programme, led by Clarion Futures and Places for People. As anchor institutions, we know how much our housing association partners appreciate the significant value of local community organisations to individuals, communities, and the wider economy. This programme will support local VCSE services through targeted funding and capacity building – enabling them to benefit more people and communities and be equipped and robust enough to face current and future challenges, ensuring viability for the longer term.”

The programme aims to provide business support to up to 100 organisations nationwide, with funding available to contribute towards the core costs of 50 of these organisations.

Applications will be considered based on eligibility and remaining space on the programme so should be submitted as soon as possible. Organisations will hear the outcome of their application by the end of September 2023.

To find out more about the programme and apply, email

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