City Bridge Trust gives grants to hundreds of community and voluntary sector organisations across Greater London, to the tune of more than £28 million a year. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they adapted their funding to help those organisations survive the storm of increased demand for services in the face of funding uncertainty. After lockdown restrictions ended, they asked us to design and facilitate an event for their funded organisations, to share their experiences and learn from each other, and to celebrate all the incredible things they achieved during this difficult time.
We worked with the Evaluation and Learning Team to design a full-day event for up to 100 in person attendees, balancing opportunities for small group interaction, interesting speakers and information from the Trust. We were very mindful of this probably being the first in person event or meeting that many attendees had been to for almost two years, and built in lots of time for chatting and catching up. We also created activities and prompts to get the conversations flowing, as lots of us were out of practice at networking!
Our team of facilitators managed and led the activities on the day, whilst our administrative team managed welcome desk, catering liaison and logistics throughout the day, so that the entire City Bridge Trust team could spend their time participating in the day alongside the organisations they fund, and could concentrate on learning from them.
The event was the first of its kind that City Bridge Trust had organised, and participants said they would love to do it again. The room was full of energy all day, and participants shared many similar experiences of overcoming the challenges that Covid-19 posed to their organisations and the people they served, and lessons about how they have become more resilient as a result. As well as participants gaining from this dialogue, they offered City Bridge Trust lots of ideas and learning for how to be an even more effective funder and partner in future.