Over 300 guests including charities and community groups, public sector and business leaders attended Suffolk Community Foundation’s Annual Review event at Trinity Park on Tuesday 12 March which included the presentation of the High Sheriff Awards to four outstanding charities from across the county.

In the last year, Suffolk Community Foundation provided £4.5m in grants to local charities, taking its total grant funding since its inception in 2005 to £40m, benefitting over 3,300 local charities and community groups across Suffolk. The Foundation works with private individual donors, businesses and professional advisors to help organise funds and make grants which tackle the issues they care about most in Suffolk.

Suffolk Community Foundation Chair George Vestey DL said ‘’The current backdrop of rising need and decreasing funding is placing charities and community groups under increasing pressure. Despite this, we have continued to work closely with our existing partners, as well as forging valuable new relationships, so that we can deliver positive change to those most in need.”

Melanie Craig, CEO of Suffolk Community Foundation, said, “The impact on people’s lives from the funds we distribute is incredible, but it is no secret that the need for support has increased. An estimated 100,000 people in Suffolk now live in fuel poverty, while inequalities brought into sharp focus by the pandemic – such as homelessness, deteriorating mental health and social isolation – still remain.

Melanie continued: “New issues have also risen to the forefront, with high numbers of children and young people no longer attending school and fewer people giving up their time to help others. Even small amounts of money to local Suffolk based charities through Suffolk Community Foundation can make a transformational change to people’s lives.”

In September 2023, the charity launched its new five-year strategy and four priority areas, which are Health & Wellbeing, Poverty, Inequality & Equity and Environment & Climate Change.

Suffolk Community Foundation Chair George Vestey DL added, “The strategy describes our aspiration to use our unique and unrivalled knowledge of Suffolk’s needs to unlock additional funding to drive improvements in these four priority areas. The strategy sets an ambitious and upbeat direction for the Foundation while reinforcing the enormous difference that partnership working can make.”

The Annual Review event’s keynote speech came from Nicola Beach, CEO of Suffolk County Council who said, “I have seen first-hand the wonderful work being done by voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise organisations, and it has always been my approach, supported by the political leadership of the County Council, to work as collaboratively as we can, even in times of great pressure on finances.

“The Suffolk Community Foundation is one of the linchpins and today is about how we can all help the people of Suffolk to live the best lives they can, especially those most in need of targeted support. The Foundation, working with others, helps deliver incredible and valuable work.”

The event, which included performances by visually impaired choir Unscene Suffolk, featured the High Sheriff Awards where Mark Pendlington DL recognised four outstanding charities from across the county:

Bury Drop In provides support to over 130 registered people who are homeless and vulnerably housed in Bury St Edmunds. The charity works closely with West Suffolk Council rough sleeper service, NHS Health Outreach and other local agencies to ensure that guests get the best support available. Provisions include tents, sleeping bags, toiletries, and emergency food vouchers. Their vision is to care for and inspire homeless people as they work to ensure everyone has a place to call home.

Room 4 was set up to fill a gap in service provision in Haverhill, offering trauma recovery focused psycho-therapeutic interventions to hard-to-reach young people in the community, who have multiple and complex needs and who have been, or are at risk of being groomed into gangs, Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Criminal Exploitation.

Survivors in Transition (SiT) supports all genders who have experienced sexual abuse and violence in childhood, through a range of trauma informed, psycho-educational and trauma specialist activities. These include one-to-one and group therapy, counselling, advocacy, research and training to become empowered and improve self-esteem and resilience. Founded in 2010, SiT has supported over 4,500 survivors through a range of individualised, evidence-based and quality assured interventions.

The Hive is a community cultural space that has grown and developed over the last two years and is situated on Norwich Road in Ipswich, the most diverse street in Suffolk. It has become a real home for people from all over the world to find a sense of belonging. With classes, groups, workshops, exhibitions and events, people have connected, found friendships and been able to share cultures and experiences which have led to a stronger community resilience and understanding.

The High Sheriff Awards were sponsored by Birketts, Suffolk Building Society, Rathbones and MHA. Other sponsors included BrandUp and Kingsfleet.

Annual Review 2024 panel shot