ADD2314 London Civil Society Leaders Grant

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
14 January 2019
Decision by: 
Alice Wilcock, Assistant Director of Team London

Executive summary

This decision seeks approval to grant up to £50,000 via a funding agreement for a partner organisation to deliver a London Civil Society Leaders programme.

‘London Civil Society Leaders Grant’ will fund a capacity building programme to develop confidence and capabilities in individuals active in London’s civil society, and to develop partnerships to support a thriving civil society in London.


That the Assistant Director, Team London and Sport, approves:

Expenditure of up to £50,000 grant funding from the Community Engagement Team (£20,000) and Team London (£30,000) budget 18/19 to deliver a London Civil Society Leaders Project.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

Partnerships with London’s civil society are key for City Hall in supporting communities, delivering services and making London the vibrant place that it is.

Team London and the Communities and Social Policy Unit have a strategic objective to work collaboratively with partners to strengthen London’s civil society. Civil society organisations work on multiple outcomes that are connected with Mayoral priorities and the GLA’s impact will benefit from a stronger civil society sector.

Over recent years cuts in funding have led to a reduction in front line and second tier community organisations. The cost of that is felt in the absence of social infrastructure when it is required most. The decrease in funding for civil society has occurred in parallel with increased demand for advice and support. Whilst these changes have been occurring there has been a push towards stronger relationships between Civil Society and the public and private sectors to avoid duplication and maximise impact with fewer resources.

For Civil Society to thrive within this challenging environment there is a need for new models of leadership that can create systems change and develop meaningful partnerships locally and regionally. By systems change we mean the way that public, private and voluntary sector actors work together in collaboration to bring about positive outcomes for Londoners.

The ‘London Civil Society Leaders’ grant will support organisations building capacity within the sector to meet the complex challenges facing London. The existing provision of capacity building support in London is fragmented across different funders and networks. City Hall can strengthen regional coordination and learning by investing this targeted grant.

‘London Civil Society Leaders’ will provide vital support for individuals who are active in London’s civil society. The funded partner will deliver a programme that builds the confidence, capabilities and ability to develop partnerships that can strengthen London’s civil society. This includes partnerships within civil society, as well as with City Hall and funders in London.

Up to 25 participants will be expected to be supported through a yearlong programme. Activities run through the programme might include - training, peer to peer learning and opportunities to work with the GLA on specific initiatives and projects relating to civil society.

Participants will have the opportunity to develop a specific project or enquiry with GLA teams. This will bring in civil society expertise in to City Hall and strengthen relationships between civil society and GLA officers. The projects will be identified with the support of Civil Society Officers and will build on learning from the Mayor’s Design Advocates and Cultural Ambassadors.

We will run a competitive process to award one grant of up to £50,000 to a charity or social business that has experience of delivering leadership programmes to civil society. We will expect successful bidders to work in partnership with the GLA to ensure a wide reach across London. Applicants will be asked to show how they will meet the grant objectives, build on existing research and their previous experience and be able to try out new and innovative ways of building expertise and relationships.

Objectives and expected outcomes


To build capacity within civil society to lead the sector in meeting the challenges facing London. The funded programme will be expected to focus on the personal development of the participants and will also support partnership working across civil society actors in London. The group of leaders will be selected from across London, with representation from inner and outer London boroughs.

For the GLA to engage with groups working across London and build its understanding of the work, opportunities and challenges facing Civil Society. The individuals recruited on to the programme will have the opportunity to engage in collaborative work or enquiry with a GLA department. This will enable the GLA to partner with civil society on a strategic level. The work of almost every GLA team involves London’s civil society, and a good understanding of the health of the sector will ensure different policy priorities align with systems on the ground in London.

To demonstrate that civil society is an important stakeholder for the GLA and a valued partner. The GLA runs numerous grant programmes to support activity within civil society. We also partner with organisations across a range of policy areas. This programme of work is a strategic investment in the core function of civil society.

Expected Outcomes

A group of Civil Society Leaders across London will have improved their leadership skills and capabilities. Supporting the personal development and capacity of London’s civil society workforce, benefitting the organisations they work for and the groups they serve.

Partnerships across civil society in London will be stronger. This will be as a result of a programme including; peer networking and support, cross sector activity working with a specific GLA team on a shared challenge, exploration of how different groups and individuals can work together to achieve better outcomes.

City Hall has strengthened its partnership with London’s civil society and has mechanisms to capture opportunities and challenges facing the sector. This will occur through the opportunity to engage in collaborative work or enquiry between GLA teams and participants.

City Hall has increased understanding of civil society workforce support and development.

Equality comments

Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as public authorities, the Mayor and GLA are subject to a public-sector equality duty and must have ‘due regard’ to the need to (i) eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; (ii) advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and (iii) foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not. Protected characteristics under section 149 of the Equality Act are age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and marriage or civil partnership status (all except the last being “relevant” protected characteristics).

The commissioning processes will require potential partners to demonstrate how their projects are inclusive of a diverse group and actively work to eliminate discrimination on the basis of the nine characteristics protected in the Equality Act 2010. In order to ensure the highest standards of equality, diversity and inclusion are upheld, the GLA will use outreach and engagement approaches to target activities at particular groups that are less able to engage or face greater barriers to engagement to enable them to participate, whilst ensuring that activities are open and accessible to all Londoners.

In the selection and identification process for the programme, funded partners will be expected to give due regard to equality of access and barriers, and how their programme will advance equality of opportunity.

The GLA aims to support the development of a strong civil society in London, this project will build capacity within the civil society workforce in order to help it respond to the current context. Civil society serves a vital role in working with and supporting individuals with protected characteristics. Meeting the needs of communities in deprived areas of London and supporting access to services.

Other considerations




Risk Description

Mitigation/ risk response


Grant is seen to clash with existing programmes of work in London e.g. the Cornerstone fund, Lankelly Chase Systems Changers.

We have undertaken a mapping of existing programmes to ensure the grant is responding to a gap in provision and engaged stakeholders to ensure the projects complements other programmes.


Recruitment of cohort will not reflect the diversity of civil society in London.

We will work with partners to ensure reach in to all layers of Civil Society and promote to networks across London. We will work with our delivery partner to recruit a diverse range of participants and take additional measures to diversify the candidate pool if needed.


Risk that the benefits of the programme are not embedded into the GLA

Participants will be connected in to different teams in the GLA by Civil Society Officers, who will ensure that there is understanding across teams and leaders about policy priorities.


Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities


  1. Civil society in London is an asset, with thousands of groups from small unfunded activists to large organisations all helping London be vibrant and successful. The GLA as a regional body has a strategic role to ensure that civil society can be supported and can flourish, this has been highlighted in the Mayor’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Social Integration (All of Us) strategies.


  1. The Mayoral priorities of Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement are all supported by a healthy civil society. We need to work with communities and civil society groups across London to encourage active participation in community and civic life from all Londoners. This is a way of supporting this.


Impact Assessments and consultations


  1. Over the last two years the GLA has undertaken a process of listening to and engaging with civil society to better understand the role of the GLA in relation to civil society. This has included taking part in The Way Ahead review, commissioning The Social Innovation Partnership to conduct an independent report, and building partnerships across the sector. This project is a product of all three of these processes.


Financial comments

The total expenditure of up to £50,000 will be funded from the Community Engagement Team (£20,000) and Team London (£30,000) 2018-19 budgets to deliver the London Civil Society Leaders Project.

Activity table



Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]

January - March 2019

Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

April 2019

Training programme begins

October 2019

Graduation of cohort

February 2019

Delivery End Date [for project proposals]

February 2020

Project Closure: [for project proposals]

March 2020

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