Youngsters from Access Community Trust

Diana Porter is the former chief executive of Fresh Start – new beginnings, a Suffolk charity that helps children who have been sexually abused.

Since 2012 the charity has helped over 1,000 young people referred by the police, schools, health and social services and is currently working with six children who are under the age of three.

The experiences that these innocents have been through are heartbreaking, difficult to listen to and will bring tears to your eyes.

However, says Diana, not everyone wants to help them – or at least they don’t want to be seen to be helping them.

“When I am looking for funding there are many people who don’t want their company name to be connected with sexual abuse so we come up against difficulties with getting support.

“Also, our service is expensive, it’s run on a one-to-one basis, can take months or years and there are no smiley faces that can be publicised at the end.

“The Foundation helped me get funding from a local company so we could set up in the first place. Without support from Suffolk Community Foundation I don’t know where Fresh Start – new beginnings and the hundreds of children we help would be.”

Likewise Suffolk Artlink says the Foundation has provided a backbone of support. Artlink improves the quality of people’s lives through creative expression and is currently running many projects across all age groups.

Diana Porter, Former Chief Executive of Fresh Start

Clown Round Project fun at Ipswich Hospital

”Funding comes from different places but Suffolk Community Foundation has helped many times”, says Co-Director Hayley Field.

These have included grants from The Henry Smith Charity and our private fund holders. This funding has also worked to help Suffolk Artlink to get the matched funding needed to access bigger pots of money.

One such scheme is the Clown Round Project at Ipswich Hospital, engaging children who are ill.

“We have eight Clown Doctors who work with children at the recommendation of the Play Team to distract them at, what for some, can be a very difficult time,” she said.


Being able to support charities, all with varied and unique needs, in the right way is a key part of our role.

In the last 13 years we have developed a high level of expertise in supporting thousands of community groups and grassroots charities in Suffolk. Our can-do approach to ‘connecting causes that matter with people who care’ has ensured that many organisations have the opportunity to build their services in a sustainable way and really make a difference to local communities.

When it comes to grantmaking, our team aim to do all they can to find the best possible outcome – they want to say yes and they want to make a positive difference.

The grants team is headed up by Andrea Pittock. “The first thing, particularly for new community groups or charities, is to make sure they are ready for funding with a properly set-up constitution and two independent signatories for cheques. Sometimes this might feel like a major hurdle to overcome, but it pays dividends quickly and a brief phone call with our partners at Community Action Suffolk, or development officers from borough and district councils, can often provide an effective solution.”

Emma Ratzner, Chief Executive at Access Community Trust

Andrea Pittock, Head of Grant Programmes at Suffolk Community Foundation

Head of Grant Programmes, Andrea Pittock, says, “Our grants officers are there at the end of the telephone to offer help and friendly advice and guidance. We aim to build really strong relationships with the groups we award grants to, we know that they are brilliant at what they do and it’s our job to help make sure that they continue to have the necessary financial support to continue their valuable work.

“Of course we have to operate within guidelines. Our funders want to know that their money is being well spent and that we are awarding grants to projects that address the needs of our local communities effectively.”

“I’m here to support organisations to be successful and receive funding, not prevent them from getting it. Yes, we need to ask questions, yes, we need to be sure the need is genuine, but my role is about presenting the application as realistically and positively as I can. It is then up to an independent grants panel to decide if the funding is awarded.”

Once the application is made, it’s not simply a case of right or wrong. Tracy Fuller from our grants team says, “Charities need to be aware that not every application is successful on the first attempt and sometimes there isn’t the funding available and perhaps it’s only possible to award a proportion of the money requested.

“Our team gets satisfaction and pleasure from seeing what successful outcomes bring. We always keep trying to find the right solution”.

So what is a grant panel looking for? Richard Cooper of Three Swans Property Management, a volunteer on the Suffolk Giving Fund panel says, “We want to be able to fund organisations that are thinking ahead and are clear about how they will be able to continue doing the work they have set out to do.” The majority of panels are over subscribed, but on average around 70% of applications are approved.

“Sometimes we don’t award the full amount requested so that we can spread funds further and help other groups too.” Obviously funding isn’t endless and available pots of money are often smaller than the grants requested from them.

Successful applications receive funds within weeks. Our grants team will always offer advice and feedback to unsuccessful applicants because it wants to support them to make better bids next time, or make suggestions as to where else they may be able to source the funding they need.

Suffolk Community Foundation has helped us with many small grants but it’s also very good if we need to apply for something bigger elsewhere in helping us put a bid together to support the work we do.

Emma Ratzer

Chief Executive , Access Community Trust

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