The Chair of the Matt Kendall Foundation, Sophie Wilson, shares her thoughts on setting up the foundation together with Matt, as it nears its five year anniversary.
Five years ago next month, in the weeks before his passing, I had the enormous privilege of co-founding The Matt Kendall Foundation. Matt’s vision was for the exceptional young people of Birmingham not to be held back because of their background, financial position or by decisions they had made in the past. He wanted young people to reach their potential, and he wanted his legacy to go some-way toward making that happen.
Since he passed away, my fellow Board members and I have worked hard to stay true to Matt’s vision and to make the Matt Kendall Foundation a unique resource for individual young people. We have developed an excellent network of professionals across both statutory sector and the voluntary and community sector of Birmingham.
Together with our network of professionals and because of fantastic fundraising efforts from friends, family and supporters of Matt’s vision, we are able to support young people with grants up to £500.
Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic has hit hard on general fundraising for charities up and down the country. Thousands of fundraising events have been cancelled and many charities, particularly smaller ones, are struggling to maintain services because the income they rely on is now dramatically reduced. The Matt Kendall Foundation has been forced to cancel our annual fundraiser ‘The Summer Shakedown’, which was scheduled for June 20th 2020. It is our biggest event of the year and it brings together loved ones and supporters to remember our incredible friend Matt and to raise money to be able to continue our work.
Despite all of this, the trustees of the Matt Kendall Foundation took the bold step to launch a Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund. We have ring-fenced a proportion of our charitable funds to directly respond to the needs of young Birmingham residents who are affected by the situation and to getting them the financial support they urgently need. Through our network of frontline, youth-facing partner organisations, we are identifying young people with limited support structures, who are in precarious life and work situations. These situations have been made more challenging through this ongoing crisis.
In the past month, The Matt Kendall Foundation has been able to allocate over £5,000 worth of grants to young people within days of receiving the requests. Items such as food, rent and heating have been financed; often bridging the gap until benefits, wages or other support kicks in.
This fast, flexible approach has meant that the charity can respond quickly, offering a life-line to young people with no-where left to turn.
The Matt Kendall Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to support young people in the most need across the city and its fleet-footed approach has been recognised by Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Children’s Partnership. The charity has been assigned as one of a number of delivery partners for their Resilience Funding: CV-19, an Emergency Response Fund for the region valued at £1.07m. The purpose of which is to support a growing number of families and young people experiencing extreme hardship due to the pandemic.
As a charity we are extremely proud to accept this challenge and will work hard to ensure this initial £10k allocation reaches as many young people in need as possible. The key focus is to support our target demographic of 16-25 year olds in crisis quickly and effectively. We will use existing processes and systems already in place so that our trustees and volunteers can process applications quickly and effectively. We aim to turn applications around in less than five days (faster where possible).
We are accepting grant applications up to £150 from young people whose situation have been affected by the virus, who are now waiting for benefits or support, but who have an immediate urgent financial need. For more details about how to apply please go to:
Were Matt still alive, we know he would have been active in mobilising his friends, partners and associates to help those most in need, we feel proud to carry out this work in his name and honour.
For supporters wanting to contribute or help, we have launch the following JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/covidcrisisfund