Buxton charity appeals for more grant applications from community organisations and struggling households

As the cost-of-living crisis grows by the day, a charity supporting good causes in Buxton is urging more people to come forward with grant proposals after seeing a drop in applications likely linked to the pandemic.

By Ed Dingwall
Monday, 24th January 2022, 9:40 am
Updated Monday, 24th January 2022, 10:23 am

The Bingham Trust was established in 1977 by the Will of Mr Bingham, a farmer who owned the land between Fairfield and Peak Dale which would become Tunstead quarry. With no relatives to inherit his legacy, he dedicated it to the people of Buxton.

Today, it manages a permanent endowment of investments worth an estimated £4.8million, and typically distributes around £170,000 a year to community organisations and individual households.

While it has seen a slight drop in its investment returns over the past two years, there has been an unexpected and potentially bigger problem for those responsible for the fund.

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Trustee Roger Horne.

Trustee Roger Horne said: “When the pandemic hit we expected we’d have less money and more applications, but in fact we’ve seen far fewer requests for support.

“When we met to allocate the latest grants this month, we had about half as many applications as normal and the majority were from organisations. Just two related to families, and that’s the most surprising thing. We know there are many households in need locally.”

Applications for household assistance must be supported by a referral from another organisation or agency, such as social services, schools and housing associations – and the trustees fear that process has broken down.

Roger said: “We can only guess at the reasons but I suspect teachers and care workers have had other priorities. Working from home may mean people’s knowledge about the trust has not been available. We used to receive many referrals from social workers, and we don’t see them any more.

The Bingham Trust has been supporting good causes across Buxton for more than 40 years.

“Professional fundraisers may have lost their jobs and their information not been passed on. Others may have been on furlough or laid off, or organisations have not been meeting meeting and programmes have been put on hold.

“Some have focused on Government relief schemes and forgotten about local grant makers. Some may have assumed that if they apply the answer will be ‘no’ because of Covid.”

The trustees hope to encourage more applications ahead of the next round in March – and must maintain their record of giving to comply with Charity Commission rules.

One-off grants average £1,000 but there is no maximum or minimum. Charitable purposes include the relief of poverty, educational services, religious activity and general community benefit. All applicants must have an SK17 postcode.

The trust is ready to help any households who have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis.

Past beneficiaries include the Buxton Festival and the opera house, while households have been helped to replace essential goods such as cookers and furnishings.

Trustees prefer to fund capital projects rather than revenue expenses, and cannot provide continuous funding. Grants cannot be used to repay existing debts or cover higher education costs, except in the case of disabled students. Businesses or for-profit organisations are not eligible for support.

Roger said: “Austerity policies have left people in real difficulty but we’ve been able to fill gaps which Government and local authority sources cannot.

“We have been to turn lives around with relatively small amounts of money, and that is a very satisfying thing to do.”

For more information and application forms, see binghamtrust.org.uk or call secretary Emma Marshall on 07966 378546.

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