LIVERY COMPANIES AND CHARITIES
A unique commitment to the charity sector
FROM THE EDITOR: The aim of this special feature is to display the very substantial charitable commitment of funds and personal effort by Livery Companies and their members. This commitment to charity is in the ethos, indeed DNA, of all Livery Companies. As a whole, and particularly so in the case of certain companies, the range of charitable activities and objects is surprisingly wide.
Where the commitment is more narrowly focused it is still highly effective due to the expertise and discipline, coupled with imagination and enthusiasm, which characterise the charitable activities of Livery Companies.
Under the rules which govern them. Livery Companies have to commit to charity, but it is the unique way in which they do this that makes them so important to the charity sector. The articles below give examples of how individual Livery Companies carry out their charitable activities. What is apparent is how the Worshipful Companies featured are taking their original charitable traditions into the modern world, working always to the ultimate benefit of the community, i.e. public benefit.
Please scroll down to see each article.
Continuing a history of philanthropy
SIMON WATHEN, Master Mercer of the MERCERS' COMPANY, says: The Mercers' Company, which received its first royal charter in 1394, is one of the oldest Livery Companies of the City of London and first in the order of precedence. Mercer and mercery derive from the Latin word "merx" which means merchandise. In England it came to refer specifically to trade in luxury fabrics such as silks, linens, velvets' and other fine textiles and dress accessories imported from abroad.
The Mercers’ Company was therefore originally a body of London merchants who dealt in the import and export of textiles. The first reference to Mercers as a corporate body comes in a 1304 lawsuit, indicating that there was already a form of organisation in existence although the exact detail of the company’s origin is not known.
The company grew significantly over the years but by the 16th century its connection with the original trade had diminished considerably. Today, the company is a predominantly philanthropic organisation, the trustee of several charities and responsible for a significant grants programme that supports education, general welfare, church and faith and arts and heritage.
In addition, the Mercers’ Company retains responsibility for managing several Almshouses and other homes for the elderly associated with the charitable trusts the company oversees. These activities are funded by income derived from its investments, principally the extensive property portfolio.
Many illustrious figures have played a part in Mercer history and left their estates to the company to manage. One of the most famous is Richard (Dick) Whittington, the hero of the children’s story, who in real life was four times Lord Mayor of London and three times Master Mercer. Richard Whittington died childless and left his considerable fortune to fund good works in the City of London, one of the earliest and most generous examples of philanthropy.
A sizeable part of Whittington’s estate was left to the Mercers’ Company to administer, which it still does, 600 years later through the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington (Whittington Charity) of which it is trustee.
The principal object of the Whittington Charity is the administration of almshouses at Whittington College, Felbridge, Surrey and at Lady Mico’s Almshouse, Stepney, London Borough of Tower Hamlets. In addition, the charity makes payments to individuals and institutions in need of relief and to support community welfare, the elderly, education, and the handicapped and disabled.
SIMON WATHEN of the MERCERS' COMPANY continues: Whilst the Whittington Charity is an illustration of a historic endowment providing contemporary benefit, the Mercers’ Company is a modern organisation drawing on its asset base and utilising the skills and talents of its membership, and the executive, to drive new philanthropic endeavours.
Many members are successful and leading figures in their professions, not least the business arena, allowing the company to benefit from transferable skills and tap in to an achieving mentality. Great care is taken, where possible, to appoint those with relevant skills and experience to the company’s philanthropic committees so that their insight and knowledge can inform the decisions made, complementing the experience and grant-making expertise of the executive officers.
At the heart of how the company works are measurement, impact and relationships which allows it to understand what has been achieved but also what refinements and improvements can be made to ensure it continues to work in the most efficient and appropriate way. Visits by committee members to applicants and grant recipients are an important way of achieving this.
The Mercers’ Company has a long and rich heritage but is modern and forward looking in what it does. It is focused not only on delivering immediate benefit and results but also on building for the long term and operating a sustainable philanthropic programme which will deliver today, tomorrow and for years to come.
A main charitable programme plus proactive initiatives
PHILIP HOWARD, grants manager at the CLOTHWORKERS' FOUNDATION, says: Founded by Royal Charter in 1528, the Clothworkers’ Company existed historically to protect its members and promote the craft of cloth-finishing in the City of London. Almost 500 years later, although we continue to value our past, our traditions and our heritage, the Clothworkers’ Company also believes it should make a contribution to society, which it does primarily through the Clothworkers’ Foundation.
The Clothworkers' Foundation, an independent grant-making trust, was set up by The Clothworkers' Company in 1977. It awards capital grants to UK not-for-profit organisations which aim to improve the lives of people and communities, particularly those facing disadvantage.
Current areas of focus are: alcohol and substance misuse; disabled people; disadvantaged young people; disadvantaged minority communities; domestic and sexual violence; elderly people; homelessness; prisoners and ex-offenders; and visual impairment.
There is the Main Grants Programme (for charities with income of less than £15m) which has no grant limit – the average grant size is £25,000, although it has awarded up to £250,000. A recent grant is the £45,000 awarded to Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid towards refurbishing its new refuge for women and children affected by domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.
There is the Small Grants Programme (for charities with income of less than £250,000) which awards grants up to £10,000.
The Clothworkers’ Foundation currently awards around £5.5m in grants a year, with more than £100m awarded since it was set up 37 years ago.
PROACTIVE GRANTS PROGRAMMES. The foundation has a small number of proactive grant programmes which fund specific fields in which we aim to make a significant impact over a period of time (usually five years). The themes and priorities change periodically. As the name suggests, potential grant recipients are selected proactively and unsolicited applications are not accepted. Previous proactive programmes have been Autism and Mathematics education.
We commissioned external evaluations of both programmes. The Autism evaluation (for which we tendered competitively) looked covered the impact not just of the programme but of proactive grant-making. Key learning points and findings for proactive grant-making included: target a sector strategically; develop an understanding of the sector; facilitate collaboration between grant recipients; and continue a supportive and flexible approach.
We intend to use the findings of the Autism evaluation to ensure the success of future proactive grant programmes, not just from our perspective as a funder but, crucially, in making a significant and positive difference to whichever sector we choose to work in proactively.
Our current proactive initiatives are:
Conservation - this has been running since 2008 with an allocation of £2m. Concentrating on "moveable heritage" rather than the natural environment, we have funded a number and range of conservation internships identified by the sector as "at risk". They include recent internships in botanic conservation at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and in conservation science at the British Museum.
We also advertise externally each year for an annual £80,000 Conservation Fellowship which supports a senior conservator at a UK institution to do work on a research and conservation project, with our grant for a Junior Fellow to cover their post. Fellowships include the one awarded to Glasgow Museum for a project in stained glass conservation and research.
Better Futures - this is a £1.25m five year programme which supports organisations and projects which could deliver significant benefits to vulnerable young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Better Futures grants include £300,000 awarded to Catch22 for Engage in Education, a three year intensive programme of support for secondary school pupils in Manchester at risk of exclusion from mainstream education.
PHILIP HOWARD of the CLOTHWORKERS' FOUNDATION continues: We have also recently launched a new five year proactive Dramatic Arts initiative, the cornerstone of which is the annual Clothworkers’ Theatre Award of up to £150,000 a year to a regional producing theatre in England. The 2014 award will be announced at the UK Theatre Awards at the Guildhall in October.
The award is part of a wider £1.2m programme which will also support talented students whose financial circumstances would otherwise prevent them from accepting a place on an acting or technical course at selected institutions.
As with Mathematics Education and Autism, we will commission external evaluations of Conservation, Better Futures and Dramatic Arts in due course.
TEXTILES. With roots in cloth finishing, we also continue to support textiles proactively through our textiles programme. Major grants in recent years have included: £1m to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2010 for the Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion; £750,000 to the British Museum in 2011 for the Clothworkers’ Organics Conservation Studio and £1.75m in 2013 to the University of Leeds for the Clothworkers’ Centre for Textile Materials Innovation for Healthcare where we are also funding PhD students in textiles and colour science.
We are also a long standing supporter of the Centre for Textile Conservation in Glasgow.
CHARITY VISITS PROGRAMME. Our charity visits programme has been running for seven years. It involves members of the livery visiting selected charities where we expect to make a potential grant over a certain amount. We offer training for visitors, and ask them to complete a standardised report after their visit, which informs our assessment of the application and supports the trustees in reaching their decision.
TRUSTEESHIP. The company (not the foundation) encourages members to become trustees or school governors in order to participate in civil society through pro bono involvement. Improving charity governance through our members acting as trustees, and the company funding appropriate initiatives, is our common purpose.
Contributing expertise as well as funds
STEVE GRAHAM, chairman of both the GLAZIERS' FOUNDATION and the GLAZIERS' TRUST, says: The charitable activities of the Glaziers’ Company are mainly, but not exclusively, focused on stained glass. The Glaziers' Foundation, created in November 2011, has responsibility for the funds dispensed by the Glaziers' Trust, the London Stained Glass Repository, the Charity for Relief in Need and the Cutter Trust. The company is not blessed with vast reserves and all our funds come through the membership. Our money seems all the more valuable for that reason.
The foundation’s committees carry out the work of our charities and are populated entirely by members of the company. The expertise that is available on the committees of the trust and the London Stained Glass Repository is probably unrivalled in the world of stained glass, historic and modern. To this we add the administrative and other support provided by members of the company whose background and experience is in other areas.
The Glaziers’ Trust has the largest budget and has two principal objects. It is probably best known for assisting with the restoration and conservation of historic and important stained glass. The trust also promotes the craft by supporting the education and training of craftsmen and women and by fostering public information and awareness. The board of the trust sits four times a year when it considers applications for grants.
The board is reluctant to make an award unless the remedial work is to be carried out by an accredited glazier. Funds are too hard to come by to risk the work not being carried out to the highest standard.
The trust is not often able to fund the cost of an entire restoration project and sometimes only provides a fraction of the overall cost. However, such is the depth of knowledge and experience on the board that its approval for a project, even if it results in only a modest award, is regularly used by applicants to help raise funds from other organisations.
Another example of where the trust’s expert opinion is as valuable as its financial support came recently when it lent its support to objections to a residential development in Hampstead in London. The proposed development would, if completed as planned, severely affect the natural light flowing into St Andrew’s Church through a famous Douglas Strachan window commemorating those who fought in the Great War.
The board keeps a close track of projects and is in regular communication with successful applicants. We are notified when the work is completed so that steps can be taken to release the award. Very often the board or a representative is invited to view the work on its completion.
The trust supports other organisations within the stained glass community such as the British Society of Master Glass Painters and the Stained Glass Museum in Ely. Both of these receive an annual grant to help them continue their work The trust also supports the much respected publication, “Vidimus”. The only online magazine devoted to stained glass.
Through the company’s Craft and Competitions Committee the trust funds several educational initiatives such as the Stevens Competition. This is a nationwide competition for architectural glass design and we believe it to be the only national competition of its kind. It attracts entries from young artists which are judged by a panel of prominent craftsmen. Sponsors of the competition regularly commission work from among the entries and the careers of many young artists have been launched by participation in the competition.
The Award for Excellence (40 weeks) and the Ashton Hill Awards (10 weeks) provide opportunities for those wishing to pursue a practical career in stained glass. They provide the funds for placements in working studios where mentored and supervised work experience takes place. In addition to these initiatives the Arthur and Helen Davis Travelling Scholarships provide opportunities for the study of glass outside the UK. Recent awardees have studied in the United States, Iceland, France, Germany and the Czech Republic.
The Continuing Professional Development Awards are for practitioners who want to broaden their skills either artistically or by attaining accredited conservator status.
The London Stained Glass Repository (LSGR) provides an escape route and relocation service for good quality stained glass. Redundant churches provide the main source of glass and the Church Commissioners are usually the first to alert the repository. In addition to building closure, glass may need to be rescued and protected from the threat of vandalism.
Once vulnerable glass has been identified the Management Committee of the LSGR assesses its artistic merit, state of repair and general condition. When this work has been done negotiations for the release and storage of the glass begin. Once in store the glass is photographed, catalogued and all relevant information recorded. Only then can a new home be sought with most of the glass going to religious buildings.
Much of the repository glass goes abroad to destinations as far afield as the United States, Australia, the Falkland Islands and Croatia. Glass is sometimes lent to museums or included in educational projects, home and abroad.
New owners of the glass are not charged although many have displayed their gratitude with donations. The current catalogue of the London Stained Glass Repository can be viewed online.
Similarly to the board of the Glazier' Trust, the LSGR Committee keeps in contact with the recipients of relocated glass. Recently the committee and other members of the company attended the dedication of two windows by Robert Anning Bell which had been reinstalled in their original home in Gray’s Inn Chapel. The windows had been removed on the outbreak of the Second World War and stored for safe keeping. The chapel was rebuilt after suffering severe bomb damage but the windows, which had by that time found their way to the repository, were never put back.
STEVE GRAHAM of the GLAZIERS' FOUNDATION continues: The Charity for Relief in Need was created to provide funds to alleviate personal difficulties being suffered by anyone who is working or has worked as a glazier. It recently paid for accommodation expenses for a student on a placement in Germany when the original arrangements fell through at the last moment. Recently it paid for a replacement cooker to be delivered to a retired glazier just before Christmas.
The Cutter Trust is the only non glass related charity under the Glaziers Foundation umbrella. As one of the City Livery Companies with a hall adjacent to the river the Glazier’s Company funds the upkeep of a Traditional Thames cutter, “The Master Glazier”. The crew, which comprises of ladies who work in education, predominantly in East London, row the craft in events organised by the Thames Traditional Rowing Association.
In addition they take part in other Thames based livery events such as the Great River Race in September and the Lord Mayor’s Flotilla in November. The cutter is stored and maintained at the Ahoy Centre in Deptford. When not racing the Master Glazier is used by those attending the Ahoy Centre for training in rowing and general boat handling.
Some of our funds are generated by investments but in recent years this has reduced. The majority of our income still comes from generous donations by members of the company and their charitable budgets are being stretched. It has to be recognised that there are far more emotional appeals for money than those for stained glass, no matter how beautiful or historically significant. This is one of the reasons why external fundraising is so difficult.
The work of our charities can only continue with the personal support of the members of the livery. The Glaziers' Company really does put its money where its mouth is.
Encouraging excellence in vocational training
PAUL NASH, clerk to the PLUMBERS' COMPANY, says: If you travel into London by train (for work or pleasure) through Cannon Street Railway Station you will see a large green man (boy actually) standing on the concourse opposite platform 4 and the ticket office. The Plumbers’ Apprentice Statue was unveiled by HRH the Duke of Gloucester in 2011 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Royal Charter of the Plumbers' Company and to recognise the company’s support for the training of apprentices.
In case you are wondering why Cannon Street Station was chosen as the location, it also marks the former site of the company’s hall, which was demolished in 1863 to make way for the station!
One of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London, in its early years the Plumbers’ Company was responsible for setting and maintaining the standard for all plumbing apprentice training within London and it also ran the voluntary National Register of Plumbers. Today that falls within the remit of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), with whom we have close links, but the company through its Charitable and Educational Trust still plays an active role in education, training and other charitable causes.
We run a bursary scheme to help support young plumbing apprentices if they need financial help to complete their training up to S/NVQ Level 3. Supported by the individual’s training college and employer, the decision on whether or not to give a bursary is made jointly with CIPHE and we have been hugely grateful to City and Guilds which have also provided matched funding for recent awards. The panel that makes the decision is drawn from qualified members of the profession within the company and we ask for feedback to see how the young trainee is progressing.
One of the challenges we face is publicising our bursary scheme. We have had very few applications recently and work is in hand to spread the word. Sadly higher level vocational training today in the plumbing sector is not as readily available as it used to be and we applaud and support recent initiatives to reinvigorate training in this area. Many colleges and organisations now only provide training to NVQ Level 2.
The Charitable and Educational Trust is supported by our Technical and Education Committee, which also helps with a number of awards we give to recognise those who have excelled in their training. Its members are drawn from those who have a wealth of experience in the trade and profession. Again we work closely with the college or training organisation and often the decision on who receives an award is given over to them entirely. We draw on their experience and expertise.
One award, “The Wilkinson Shield”, is a joint annual award to the best student and college in the North East Region of England. They are selected by the Newcastle and County Durham branch of the CIPHE and the competition is fierce – it is probably unique in that both the trainer and trainee at the institution must excel to win. Named after one of our Past Masters who inaugurated it, it celebrated its Centenary Award last year. In this region a strong tradition of vocational training continues.
PAUL NASH of the PLUMBERS' COMPANY continues: Whilst we recognise the importance of supporting training in the modern plumbing profession which we represent, you can see from our history that it is also an ancient craft - and lead working on which much of it was based is one of the traditional crafts we support.
An offshoot of the company is the Plumbers’ Workshop Charitable Trust, located at the Weald and Downland Museum at Singleton, West Sussex. Here you can see demonstrations of, and learn about, ancient lead working skills - skills we cannot afford to lose, as they are still needed today and in the future to repair and maintain our fine heritage of ancient buildings, palaces, churches and cathedrals across the country.
The Plumbers’ Company and its charity also support a wide variety of other causes, including city farms in London, musical education and awareness through the St Paul’s Cathedral School Choir, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Apollo Music Project at Columbia Primary School in Tower Hamlets, and rehabilitation and training for ex-offenders through the Old Bailey.
We are also proud of our association with the Armed Forces, to whom we provide an annual award to the best plumbing and hydraulic students in each of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. We also support the Richmond Sea Cadet unit with the training it gives to young people, who repay us by kindly providing a Guard of Honour for our formal banquet in the Mansion House each year.
Supporting education in the broadest sense
ALISON MURDOCH, director of charities at the HABERDASHERS' COMPANY, says: When I mention I work at the Haberdashers’ Company most people say, “Ah, you have schools don’t you?” Indeed we do and the company is proud of its reputation in the field of education.
The schools foundations which support those schools and academies directly account for around 75% of the Haberdashers’ Company’s charitable giving in any given year. However, the company is also trustee of four grant-making trusts and this article is about the work enabled by donations from those charities.
Like any other grant making trust with finite resources we have to be focused in our grant making in order to make the most effective use of our limited funds. Given the company’s expertise in the field of education it is unsurprising that one of the main strands of support relates to charities working in education in the broadest sense. We have, for example, funded the work of the Shannon Trust in helping prisoners to learn to read.
We also support disability charities in offering help for education, training and employment, particularly self-employment. Charities such as The Prince’s Trust, London Youth and Youth at Risk have also been supported in their work with some of the most vulnerable young people to help them access the support they need to fulfil their potential and avoid a cycle of exclusion from school, gang culture and offending.
We have also been, and continue to be, very strong supporters of Teach First since almost from the beginning and are proud to share its vision of breaking the link between educational achievement and parental income. There are Teach First participants in our academies and Haberdashers’ Hall regularly hosts Teach First events.
Some of the funding available to the grant making trusts is restricted to providing support for our own schools, their pupils and former pupils. Once of the biggest programmes within this relates to the provision of university bursaries.
With five academies in some of the more disadvantaged areas of the country, we use these funds to offer financial support to pupils from low income families who may be the first in the family to go on to university. We have recently been joined in this initiative by the chemical company AkzoNobel which has generously funded bursaries for students in science, engineering and technology. We are looking for our next corporate partner.
ALISON MURDOCH of the HABERDASHERS' COMPANY continues: In order to monitor the effectiveness of our funding and “add value” to our financial support we do a number of things. Firstly, we do a lot of research to ensure that the work being done by a charity “fits” with our focus areas. We then require a formal evaluation report to be completed for every grant we make over £2,000.
This is essential for a grant-making trust as we are to a large extent reliant on others to fulfil our aims and objectives, including the requirement for public benefit.
However, we also appoint a member of the company to act as Company Contact with charities to which we have given substantial support or have a long standing relationship. Reports from the contacts help in making decisions about further funding as well as giving another view on the work being done. Some Company Contacts also act as volunteers with their charities or have been able to put them in touch with others who can assist them.
The company also provides networking opportunities. For instance, there is the Company Service and Garden Party. This is an event at which we give thanks for the benefactors who have enabled the current grant making programme and celebrate the work being done by the charities we support.
Some 30 charity representatives will join the company for this event to meet each other as well as members of the company. Where possible we promote events or volunteering opportunities with the charities we support to our members.
Another important part of increasing the effectiveness of our funding involves partnerships. For some years we have been running the Haberdashers’ Entrepreneurs’ Award Scheme in conjunction with the University of East London (UEL).
Small grants are made to UEL students who have set up their own businesses. Many are also using this to provide opportunities to disadvantaged people in their local area. The university offers a programme of business support for the young entrepreneurs in addition to our funding and has also worked with pupils from our South East London academies.
In a recent letter from UEL’s vice chancellor, Professor John Joughin, he states that “schemes like the Haberdashers’ Awards are at the forefront of the type of initiative we want to develop over the next few years”.
One way that the company keeps in touch with its original trade roots is by an annual competition for first year students on the MA Textiles course at the Royal College of Art (RCA). Eight finalists come to our hall to present their work to a judging panel made up of members of the company. Substantial prizes are awarded to the top three students. In future the RCA will host students from our London academies on visits to help broaden their horizons.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of an increasing range of possibilities which help make up a package of support we can offer charities in addition to our financial support. We believe this is the best way of making sure that we are as effective as possible in our grant-making.