Over this past year we have had the opportunity to meet with many of the charities that the Trust supports, and hear directly from beneficiaries and their families. While it is encouraging to see the impact that our funding has, the visits also highlight the many challenges being faced. The environment within which charities are operating has become increasingly uncertain as funding from statutory sources reduces at the same time as many organisations are seeing increased demand for their services.
Within this context, we are constantly listening to the charities that we support to find out what else we can do to support them to achieve their purposes. In response to some of this feedback, we trialled a new programme to fund training for charity staff and volunteers on topics relating to digital communication, social media and welfare rights. Feedback so far has been extremely positive and we will be expanding that programme in the year ahead.
Listening to our beneficiary charities is also at the heart of our future thinking so we have commissioned reports on each of our themes to find out views on where some of the funding gaps are, and where we could make the biggest impact. These reports will underpin the development of our next strategic plan which is being developed by the board over the coming year.
In August 2015, the Trust launched its new website and branding. As well as providing guidance on how to apply for grants, the website is an important tool in sharing stories from some of the charities and research that we have funded. We are keen to find new ways of promoting the organisations that we support, and are delighted that a significant number have engaged with networking events and seminars organised by the Trust.
The core part of our operations is grant making and in 2015/16 the Trust agreed 89 awards amounting to £2.21M.
All of these achievements have been made possible through the work of our Trustees, staff team and volunteer experts who assist with our assessment process.
Our actions over the past year have been driven by a desire to respond as best we can to the needs that are presented to us and, in the year ahead, we will continue to do everything we can to help the work of our beneficiary charities.