Esmee Fairbairn Press Release

Esmee Fairbairn Press Release

Plymouth Octopus Project Nets More Than a Million Pounds for the City


It’s been announced today that more than a million pounds of funding has been awarded to the voluntary and community sector in Plymouth as part of a radical approach which will see the voluntary, public and private sectors working together for the good of the city. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the UK, announced today that it will award £1.3m to Plymouth as part of a pilot programme of ‘place-based funding’.

The investment recognises, and will build on, the collaborative and transformative cross-sector approach to decision-making that has evolved across the city in recent years. The Plymouth Octopus Project (POP+), which represents the voluntary and community sector, will receive the money as part of a five-year initiative to help make a better city for everyone.

Over the last twelve months staff from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation have made several trips to Plymouth discuss needs and opportunities with the local sector. Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Caroline Mason, says;

“We saw a city that was working together to do things for the good of everyone rather than for individuals. We hope our funding will further inspire local people to affect change and transform the place they live. This is a bold new funding approach for the Foundation, making the best of all an area’s assets, including organisations such as POP+, with the aim of sharing learning across the voluntary, public and private sectors.”

Recognition now comes in the form of more than a million pounds. Jacky Clift, the Chief Executive Officer at POP+, is delighted and says the investment will enable them to increase their work and strengthen their networks, but also, she says, to fund interesting and inventive community projects designed and driven by the communities themselves;

“This is a gamechanger for us and for the city. It is money to encourage collaboration, not just among the VCS organisations, but also with the council and other public sector bodies, with businesses and the private sector. Together we can look at the directions the city is going in and where an injection of money will make a change happen. It means that the community sector, especially at grassroots, where the work of inspirational individuals is often unrecognised outside their own neighbourhoods, can be stronger and have more influence on what happens in the city.”


Most importantly, says Jacky Clift, it’s those individuals, communities and members of the VCS who will decide how the money is best spent;

“The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation wants us to be quite radical in how we use this money so we need as many people as possible to speak up and tell us how we can make Plymouth better. We’ve got amazing citizens; a wonderful heritage and fantastic opportunities: this money will enable us to think differently, to make the best possible use of our assets and our opportunities and, through a truly collaborative approach, create a city that works for everyone.”

One of the roles that POP+ already has is supporting the many voluntary and community organisations across Plymouth with, for example, capacity building; training and funding advice. Darin Halifax, a Senior Policy Advisor at Plymouth City Council, has been working with the organisation for three years and believes there is now a productive and more respectful relationship between the City Council and the VCS. The money from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will, he says, help to strengthen the sector and continue to change the way the city works;

“It gives opportunities for more organisations, whatever their size, to have an impact on the delivery of services in the city and subsequently to enable recipients of those services to have a much more personal relationship with the supplier.”

POP+ is inviting anyone interested in hearing more about the Esmée Fairbairn investment and being part of the conversation about how the money is spent to come along to a meeting on Thursday the 21st of September at 10.00am at Engage Church on St Leven Road in Milehouse. PL2 3BG.