London funder wins award for social investment work

A partnership programme run by London’s largest independent funder and a leading investment bank has won an award for its work helping charitable organisations explore the social investment market.

City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable arm, in partnership with UBS took the prize for best Social Investment Initiative at the Charity Times Awards last night.

The Charity Times Awards celebrates best practice in the UK charity and not-for-profit sector, organised by Charity Times.

The partnership won the award for the Stepping Stones Fund, which was launched three years ago to fund charities and social enterprises looking to break into the London social investment market, benefitting hundreds of people in the capital. The funding helps organisations develop their ideas, bring in new technical assistance and get products ready for market.

Stepping Stones is run by City Bridge Trust in partnership with UBS. City Bridge Trust has already awarded over £3.2 million to over 77 organisations across 20 London boroughs through the fund.

The latest round of grantees range from employability programmes helping young people into work to a social enterprise helping new parents transition into parenthood.

Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, commented:

“This award is recognition for the hard work of City Bridge Trust and UBS in creating a funding programme that has made a huge impact.

“Stepping Stones has already made such a positive difference to many organisations, providing a risk-free space to explore the social investment market – for some, providing a stepping stone to the creation of life changing social enterprises.

“City Bridge Trust is committed to making London a fairer place to work and live.”

Nick Wright, Head of Community Affairs at UBS said:

We are delighted that the Stepping Stones Fund has been recognised for the impact it has had in the social investment market. By providing a springboard for social businesses to make their visions into realities, the Stepping Stones Fund is a great example of the effectiveness of private sector and non-profit collaboration.”

Nicola Hill, CEO of the Bike Project, who received £40,000 from the fund to employ bike mechanics to achieve their mission of getting refugees cycling to help them become better integrated and involved in the community, said:

“In the last five years, The Bike Project has donated over 3,700 refurbished bikes to refugees. We run cycle training for refugee women three times per week. We have also launched a buddying scheme to reduce social isolation and provide volunteering and employment opportunities as we continue to grow.

“The Stepping Stones funding came at a pivotal time for us, enabling us to kick-start a sequence of events that would upscale our charitable impact. We knew that if we were able to ramp up output, rebrand and redesign our online shop we could demonstrate our proof of concept that would attract social investors.

“In this respect the funding was 100% successful, we secured social investment last year. Our online shop now contributes a significant income stream to our operations which is essential for the future sustainability of any charity.”

Sarah Wallbank, CEO of Yes Futures, who received £46,000 of funding for a schools programme to increase the confidence and life skills of young people, added:

The grant will be a huge catalyst in developing our programme model and team capacity in order to raise future social investment. It will help us meet the increasing demand we are getting from schools for our programmes, and substantially grow our impact to many thousands of young people across the UK.”

City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

The Trust has awarded around 7,900 grants totalling over £380 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.


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Notes to editors

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. 

About City Bridge Trust

City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of Bridge House Estates, a Registered Charity, with its primary aim the maintenance and support of five Thames bridges: Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark, Blackfriars and the Millennium footbridge.

City Bridge Trust was established in 1995 to make use of funds surplus to bridge requirements and provides grants totalling around £20m per year towards charitable activity benefitting Greater London. The City of London Corporation is the sole trustee of the Bridge House Estates.

About UBS

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. UBS’s strategy is centered on our leading global wealth management business and our premier universal bank in Switzerland, enhanced by Asset Management and the Investment Bank. The bank focuses on businesses that have a strong competitive position in their targeted markets, are capital efficient, and have an attractive long-term structural growth or profitability outlook.