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October 23, 2014

Edge Fund supports groups creating social change, those that face many barriers to raising funds such as being very small with no or few paid staff, being led by communities that might not speak English as a first language, or being seen as too radical in their approach. We receive many more applications than we can support and need to raise more funds. Here are some statements from applicants in this funding round (whose applications are currently being assessed) about their work and the challenges they face getting the support they need. Please help if you can.



“The scale of what we are trying to fight for is so overwhelmingly massive, especially in a world where billions goes to funding consumerism and wars and local funding is being cut. Edge Fund provides an utterly unique opportunity for groups that are doing such incredible work and may never otherwise get funding, to have a chance of achieving their goals”.
Rose, Heathrow Arts Project

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“AfricanRainbowFamily is a newly set up group led by and for LGBT Asylum Seekers of African heritage in the UK campaigning against injustices and mistreatments of LGBT asylum seekers by the UK immigration system. We are unable to access fund with the mainstream funders due to our political stand, hence unable to fund our group work. With Edge fund, we are positive of getting funded. Help us hit the £20,000 mark for grassroot groups like us to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people and the voiceless”.
Jane, African Rainbow Family

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“Working against something as contentious and important as immigration detention, we find it really hard to get funding. Many groups who engage with detention just want it to change for the better – we want it to end full stop, and as a result find it really difficult to find people to support us financially. Until the revolution, we need funds to support the fight!”

Billy, SOAS Detainee Support Group

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“Trans-led organisations find it very hard to get funding because most of the funds available go to more privileged groups within the LGBT community. And when you adopt radical aims such as calling for a democratic trans healthcare system and take a stand against cuts and privatisation, getting funding is nigh on impossible”

“For most funding bodies, giving money to trans and gender variant people working for radical social change just isn’t an option. This means that in order to continue our work fighting for trans healthcare, we often have to fundraise within our own community, a community whose level of unemployment due to transphobic discrimination is off the scale”.
Jess and Tommy, Action for Trans Health

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“Our public speech and therefore our politics are tightly controlled by narrow interests. New Left Project seeks, in this context, to provide an open space for people desiring transformative political and social change to think, debate, develop and learn. Unlike mainstream media we are unburdened by commercial pressures, freeing us to pursue those issues we judge to be important and useful to those seeking social change. But running an alternative media organisation without resources is extremely difficult. We have managed for several years without income as a collective of volunteers working in our spare time. But this is not sustainable, and does not permit us to pursue even half the ideas we have for articles, series, events and other contributions to public knowledge and exchange. The media mainstream depends financially upon big corporations, and this is reflected in its coverage. A media that works for the public must, by contrast, be financially supported by the public; fortunately, with non-profit organisations like ours, even a little help goes a long way”.
Jamie, New Left Project

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“JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) is a grassroots campaign which we run from a desk in a shared office and our kitchen tables. We are campaigning on behalf of prisoners who have been convicted under “Joint Enterprise” – which is not a law, it is a 300 year old doctrine being used to convict people who were somehow connected to the perpetrator – some of these prisoners are children as young as 13 who had no previous convictions but were out with friends when a crime took place. Our prisons are overcrowded and we believe Joint Enterprise is a contributing factor – as we are trying to change the law we are also very political. We are not a charity and finding funds to carry on our fight is so hard, even when people believe in us. We are all volunteers and often pay our own travel costs to attend important meetings (often in volunteers’ homes as we can’t afford to pay for venues) or just to meet families who need advice, whose loved ones have been imprisoned for a crime they have not committed”.
Cath, JENGbA

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“My name is Kwesi Shaddai, and I’m a black working class activist and community organiser. I’ve been working to bring about radical social change in my community for over ten years now, and during that time I’ve provided various services to the public. These have ranged from creative arts and sporting events, to workshops about stop and search procedures and intellectual property law.

However, despite my obvious experience of working first hand with marginalised people within my own community, I have nevertheless failed to receive a penny of funding for any of my social projects. As you can imagine, filling out application after application without any success can become disheartening. This is especially true in light of the allegations of misused funds that have been levelled at larger organisations like Big Society Network, who clearly have no problems accessing government finances, thanks to the significant resources they already possess.

As a dedicated activist, I’ve become a member of several non-profit organisations over the years that share my desire to bring about real change in the world. Collectively, our need for better access to advice and funding cannot be overstated. As members of marginalised communities ourselves, we believe that we are best placed to identify the most effective solutions to the problems that we face. Unfortunately, everything we do requires finances, and our services are often reliant on volunteers and the good-will of the public to continue.

This is why it is so important to support grassroots groups like Edge Fund. Although I have been disappointed with fund providers in the past, I have made an exception with Edge Fund because they describe themselves as an organisation that supports radical social change. It’s been encouraging to meet with them and discuss my future projects, as they place an emphasis on listening to the people and communities that they support. By taking this approach, Edge Fund has avoided the “top-down” tendencies of other organisations that can often ride roughshod over the aspirations and concerns of those they are attempting to help”.
Kwesi Shaddai

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“Dear Edge Fund, we are so glad you exist!!! It’s been an incredible challenge, as a group of transgender students in Ireland, to obtain funding for our critical activities of peer support, obtaining a safe space, and upskilling ourselves on activism. We are marginalised both within our College and University settings, and in wider Irish society as a whole . Ireland is the last remaining country in Europe to have not yet recognised trans* experiences governmentally through Gender Recognition Legislation. Needless to say, there is not funding at government level for our work, and we find this exclusion to oftentimes be mirrored within community and advocacy work as well as in third-level education. We are overshadowed by ‘gay’ groups or non-trans*-inclusive ‘LGBT’ work, with our needs being so unique that having our own space to talk through experiences and support one another is fundamental to our work. We rely heavily not only on volunteers, but also on free and low cost use of space, which often comes at the price of limited safety and security. We are working to create a world where trans* people feel safe on campus as well as in wider society, but we have a long road ahead of us. To us, the best start begins in finding one another (we are spread throughout the island, many of us alone in our own communities). From these connections, we provide lifesaving support to one another. In the past year, we have seen our members ‘come out’ to family, friends and peer groups, and we have all truly blossomed in our identities. We do not have a choice but to continue finding each other and to ‘pay it forward’ to the new potential group members we have yet to make our friends! Thanks and solidarity!”
Irish Trans* Students’ Alliance (ITSA)

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“It is increasingly difficult to exist if you dare to go into consumer spaces and do anything other than spend money, if you use the streets for anything other than getting to work, if you name and highlight social oppressions on the bus or are heard to use the term ‘anti-capitalism’. It can’t be anywhere on your website or anywhere in your public discourse or you are instantly shunned from all collaborations, funding, support. In London finding space to focus and train each other to tackle corporations and institutions through radical theatre is nigh impossible as workshop space soars. The crack down on squatting means there are few dependable spaces with the right conditions to meet and train and they rarely last long. We need anything we can get to have the resources just to keep our work alive!”
Alex, Experimental Experience

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“We are a group of disabled and non-disabled people active in protests and direct actions against the Work Capability Assessment and other injustices disabled people face, as well as running a small outreach team. We help those who have been left with nothing as a result of brutal government cuts. Our clients certainly are not able to contribute to our costs, so our group, who are all volunteers, are funding ourselves. We don’t have the use of neutral, free, disabled friendly premises, so we mostly have to travel to clients, or meet in cafes, which adds to travel and other costs. We want to be able to offer more professional self help workshops and have a high profile at protests, with better materials, however currently, our funding is only enough to cover basic costs of helping our clients and very minimal leaflets and banners. Money from the Edge Fund would enable us to reach out to more disabled people, giving them skills to help themselves. It would enable us to raise awareness of the issues, highlighting what disabled people are facing in the current political climate. With a higher public profile, it will also be easier for us to raise funds for ourselves”.
Jennifer, Disability Solidarity Network

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“Our campaign has been met with obstructive council officers, incomplete legal advice, and being blocked from addressing that legal advice with the council. With the Westminster elite enforcing their local parties to resist fighting austerity and the media backing that up, we have to work much harder to reach out to people just to tell them there is a legal and practical option in which to fight local austerity that can help the majority and tax the rich. We have an answer but the many vested interests don’t want us to succeed. We’re still moving forwards and every £1 of support goes a long way”.
David, New Deal for Brighton and Hove

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“No-one in society can argue that there are enough provisions in place to tackle gangs or youth violence. Unfortunately, it is rare to find the holistic, impartial, neutral and non-judgemental support that Get Outta The Gang provides to young people. We are a youth-led organisation using innovative and creative methods which some may describe as risky, but we feel these new approaches are vital because young people are killing each other, so this is a life or death issue. Many funders are not willing to aid us to take the risks we feel are necessary to truly combat gangs and youth violence, but the Edge Fund is willing to support radical methods for social change, which is exactly what we, and many other groups that think like us working in different sectors, are relying on to continue to change the world”.
Temi, Get Outta The Gang

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“There is strong evidence that psychiatric drugs taken for long periods are toxic, damaging the brain and shortening life by about 20 years. Yet week after week we hear from people distraught by the way they or a family member is coerced into taking these drugs and forced into hospital with no other choice being offered. We therefore strive, in the face of immense power and vested interests, to show there is a different way of understanding ‘psychosis’ and mental distress, and that there are proven alternative approaches which offer hope of real and lasting recovery. We passionately want to make these alternatives much more known and available for people to choose, and to support those who struggle to resist harm and oppression in the current system”.
Margaret Turner, On behalf of all members of Soteria South-West.

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“Grassroot level is the front line help desk for people living in local communities. If we mobilize resources and support grass root groups, we can make their voice heard on a larger scale in the demand of radical social change. More importantly we need to hear the voices of ethnic female minorities who are of undeniable value for the development of our society”.
Anna, Women’s Solidarity Fund

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“We can’t apply for most funding because we are not and do not want to be a registered charity because we want to retain our independence and ability to be political – something we could not do as a charity. The attacks on immigrants are political, if we were to reduce ourselves to fit the requirements of a charity we would have to cut off our arms – our ability to criticise and organise politically, to speak the plain truth about racism unhindered. Thats why organisations like the Edge Fund are crucial, our options for funding are so limited; to have an organisation and people willing to fund grass roots organisations, ones that are bold and critical of the system, is amazing”
Movement for Justice

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“We really value funds like Edge Fund. It is so hard for tiny groups of people who are fighting for change and for rights to be recognised and access funding. Understandably most funders go for large, established organisations with fundraising departments, finance managers, human resources departments, substantial operating budgets and reserves.

But if we want to build change and a transformative movement then we have to support those committed, hardworking, passionate individuals giving up their time for free at the grassroots who really know what life is like on the frontline.

And the great thing is that they don’t need much money – they don’t have the overheads and the salaries and the premises: a small amount of money goes a very long way when you do things on a small scale at grassroots level.

We are trying to challenge attitudes that enable violence against women, we are working in a context that is complacent and thinks gender equality has been done. It is a context which often finds feminism and women’s rights challenging and hostile – for instance we thought we were going to attract some sponsorship from a company but when the found we were “feminist” they refused to do so”.
Heather, WAVES-Lewisham

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“Most charitable funding is tied up with objectives which only treat the symptoms of social problems, not the causes – in other words trying to deal with huge trends like social alienation with band-aids like lunch clubs. On top of this the monitoring and reporting obligations attached to most grants can often take more time to fulfil than the activities for which the funding was given! And of course political activism of any sort rarely gets a look-in. We were very happy to find the Edge Fund, with its commitment to real social change and simple application and administration process.

Unconditional basic income is like a social dividend paid regularly – to each individual, without meanstesting, obligations to work or look for work and high enough for material existence. It would allow full participation in society for all, without the shame, bureaucracy or bullying attached to means-tested and other conditional benefits, or the rank corruption of privatised schemes to ‘help’ people back into work. Between bank bailouts, financial transactions, war and what’s stashed in tax havens there is more than enough money to fund it.

A basic income paid to each individual would help women in violent domestic situations, people on zero-hour and other precarious contracts, people who want to or have to care for family members or friends, people with disabilities currently facing demeaning and vexatious Work Capability Assessments, people made unemployed by technological advances, people who want to set up small businesses or volunteer in their communities, students, activists, people who want to do some real training for work they want to do, communities who might want to pool their money to set up (for example) clean energy projects…

We have already seen an unprecedented amount of coverage for the idea of unconditional basic income over the past year. Basic Income UK wants to get it firmly on the political agenda next year. Basic income is the obvious policy to replace Universal Credit which is neither universal nor paid in credit, and the raft of sadistic welfare reforms brought in by this government.

It is a positive demand to make against the current government’s austerity measures chipping away at every aspect of people’s lives. Everyone deserves the means to live!

Whether we succeed in our own application or not, the Edge Fund is a very special initiative. Please give as much as you can – it will go to groups working for positive social change, not just more band-aids”.
Barb, Basic Income UK

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“RADTV is an programme making company specialising in alternative analysis and reporting. We cannot normally apply for charity as we are deemed to be political. Almost all funding is directly or indirectly either state administered or from charitable trusts. So for us the Edge Fund is a very rare opportunity to get funding. It is increasingly hard to make alternative initiatives as potential volunteers struggle to pay the bills and middle class donors feel the pinch”.


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