UK funders come together to launch £5.3m Early Action Neighbourhood Fund


The Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, working together on the pilot Early Action Neighbourhood Fund (EANF), have today announced up to £5.3m of funding for three early action projects in Coventry, Norwich and Hartlepool.

Early action prevents problems from occurring, rather than dealing with the consequences of those problems: building fences at the top of a cliff rather than providing ambulances at the bottom. The EANF aims to reduce future demand for public services (eg children’s services, mental health budgets and housing support) by providing innovative models of intensive preventative support right now.

The three funded projects are partnerships led by local voluntary sector organisations, working with statutory agencies, to develop and implement preventative initiatives in family support, young people’s wellbeing and legal advice.

What are we funding?
Changing Futures North East (£1.56m over five years)

Changing Futures aims to reduce spending on acute children’s services in Hartlepool by 10%, as well as improving school attendance and children’s emotional wellbeing, and reducing parental and family conflict. It will do this by improving the way its services and staff relate to each other and by building stronger family relationships through intensive support.

Mancroft Advice Project (£1.64m over five years)

Mancroft Advice Project aims to reduce acute spending in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service budgets in Norwich and unlock a percentage of the future budget for preventative work, as well as improving children and young people’s social and emotional wellbeing, and reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training. It will do this by targeting 13-14 year olds in 3 schools with a range of interventions, mentoring and family support.

Coventry Law Centre (£1.53m over five years)

Coventry Law Centre’s Ignite project aims to reduce demand on specialised services (e.g. children’s services and housing) and initiate a shift in how resources are allocated in Coventry, as well as raising people’s aspirations for their lives and expectations of themselves, improving communities’ ability to resolve their own problems and ensuring fewer people reach crisis point. It will do this by building legal knowledge, confidence and skills in people to help them deal with every day law-related issues.

About the Fund

In 2011, the Early Action Task Force  brought together charity, business and government leaders to make the case for a shift in spending towards prevention. In response, a group of funders formed the Early Action Funders Alliance, which aims to make the public case for early action, help funders to embed it in their work, and ultimately help the shift towards early action. The Early Action Neighbourhood Fund (EANF) is the result of 12 months’ work by the Early Action Funders Alliance to design a targeted pilot programme which could provide evidence for the value of early action.

Five members of the Alliance committed resources to the Early Action Neighbourhood Fund in order to test and demonstrate the potential impact of early action work and funding in England. The grant funding comes from Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, with Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Legal Education Foundation providing additional support and guidance.

Commenting, Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said:

“This is an exciting moment, building on 12 months’ work but with aspirations to change the way early action is approached long into the future. It is also a great way of working together as funders, drawing in best practice, learning and experience from all the partners. Our collective funding can enable people in Hartlepool, Norwich and Coventry to identify and solve problems early; experiences we can all learn from.”

Commenting, Judith McNeill, Grants Director of Comic Relief, said:

“Early action makes sense. Why wait until problems are entrenched and harder to solve? By targeting funding early, we will see better outcomes for individuals, families, and communities and hopefully show that by using limited resources in a different way we can stretch them further and help more people .”

Commenting, Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, said:

“Acting early to help people become more able to deal with life’s challenges is common sense, but far from common practice. Foundations like Esmée Fairbairn can do this because we can fund and think over the long-term. We hope that this fund will demonstrate the value of early action to other funders, commissioners and to the voluntary sector.”