Community Savers have been awarded a two-year development grant of £209,500 from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, to deepen and broaden the impact of our women-led approach to reducing urban poverty and inequality.

The National Lottery funding has a focus on supporting transformational and long-term change. The funding is seeking to support “visionary initiatives that go beyond individual organisations, and instead focus on ecologies, platforms…networks”, that are capable of “generating infrastructure through which many things are possible.”

For Community Savers and CLASS this call felt like a perfect fit. The funding, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will enable our women leaders to strengthen the existing network while reaching out to other communities across Greater Manchester and Sheffield to share their approach and reach a wider diversity of communities. Savers will be enabled to further develop innovative and collaborative initiatives like those in Hulme and Miles Platting and to share learning with similar groups in other areas for possible adaptation. Community Savers and CLASS will have additional capacity to support groups in a wider set of neighbourhoods to form community networks and identify priorities for collective action together with local service providers and local government.

Sharon Davis, Mums Mart Treasurer and an original founder and mentor of the Community Savers network said:

“We are all absolutely delighted about this National Lottery funding. It feels like after all the hard work of the last two years this is real recognition for what we do. A lot of what we do goes unnoticed but by working together across different communities, and now different cities as well, it feels like we are building a stronger voice. I also just want to say well done to all our women savers and leaders across the network – we should all be really proud of ourselves.”

Sophie King, Director of CLASS, said:

“This feels like a transformative moment in the Community Savers’ development. It is wonderful to have this recognition from such an exciting new initiative from The National Lottery Community Fund. As the savings leadership have experimented with the approaches of the 85% women-led Shack/Slum Dwellers International since 2016, including through visits to Cape Town and Nairobi, it has been amazing to watch women translate these ideas for the UK context. The accumulation of confidence, skills, knowledge and significant outcomes for people living on low incomes in Greater Manchester, and now also in Sheffield, has been humbling to be a part of. It has been achieved through a fantastic combination of peer support and solidarity, learning-by-doing and learning exchange, and community-led co-production.

Community-led co-production is made possible when communities are supported to form confident, well-organised and completely independent community associations and to network together with other local groups through dialogue and peer exchange. This enables communities to prioritise issues they want to change and then form co-production partnerships with public agencies and authorities from a more prepared, confident and collective position, rather than participating in someone else’s initiative as a service user.

The savings approach starts by addressing individual and household needs such as financial resilience and well-being – but this is just the beginning. The savings groups are building blocks of social transformation which comes from communities testing out innovative ideas and scaling these up through their own networks and local/national government. Groups also save together into a club account thereby building trust in each other and the skills to manage collective finance and collective agendas.”

About the National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we support people and communities to prosper and thrive.

We’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to work closely with Government to distribute vital grants and funding from key Government programmes and initiatives.

Our funding has a positive impact and makes a difference to people’s lives. We support projects focussed on things that matter, including economic prosperity, employment, young people, mental health, loneliness and helping the UK reach NET Zero by 2050.

Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.  

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, £43 billion has been raised for good causes. National Lottery funding has been used to support over 635,000 projects – 255 projects per postcode area.