We speak to Henry Allmand, the CEO of Heart of Bucks, about their latest campaign and helping the Buckinghamshire community during a pandemic
For those who don’t know Heart of Bucks, what do you do?
Heart of Bucks is the community foundation for Buckinghamshire, created in 2000 by the late Sir Nigel Mobbs. We are a registered charity, and provide grants to small, grassroots charities and community groups in the county. Our focus is first and foremost on local philanthropy. We enable local people and businesses to target their charitable funds and activities in the most effective way possible. We work with a number of private philanthropists and businesses to understand their interests and intentions, and use our well-established local knowledge and research to guide and shape their giving.
Looking at some of the local causes you have been involved in, which ones really stand out for you?
One area of work that we are getting more involved in is local environmental and sustainability issues. We are currently running a funding programme called ‘Green Future Bucks’, which encourages grassroots environmental activity in both local schools and community groups. Talking to our donors and supporters, we know that they are extremely interested in providing resources to ensure our local environment is protected and looked after effectively. Not every project has to set out to change the world – small scale, local initiatives can be incredibly powerful and this is very much the case with the environment.
What can you tell us about the Family Angels campaign?
Family Angels is a small but very high impact fund we manage, which provides support to households with dependent children who might otherwise be left with nowhere to turn. We work with community advocates like social workers, volunteer advisors, and housing workers, to ensure that there is some support for moments when all other doors have closed. We provide payments to purchase essentials for families fleeing domestic violence, for families undergoing traumatic health issues, or even to prevent homelessness.
Has there been a real demand for your help during the pandemic?
Our funding linked to Covid was perhaps the pinnacle of the support that we have provided for our community, throughout our 21-year history. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, in the 2020-21 financial year we were able to distribute £1.5m in charitable funding to the Buckinghamshire community (our largest ever amount) at a time when it was most desperately needed. Even at these record-breaking amounts, demand far outstripped supply, and unfortunately we had to turn away many deserving applications due to pressure on our resources. We anticipate this being the case for many months, perhaps even years, as our communities feel the long-term effects of the disruption of the pandemic.
How long have you lived in Buckinghamshire?
I’ve lived in Bucks for almost 25 years. I was fortunate enough to benefit from the excellent education system, and grew up playing sports locally. After leaving to study at university, I returned and worked in local government, before taking a hugely rewarding step into the non-profit sector. Having grown up in the area and worked in such Bucks-centric organisations, I’m really pleased to now have a small family of my own and be making this our permanent home.
Do you have a local secret or any interesting story about the county you are willing to reveal?
Wescott in the west of the county is home to a cluster of companies working on some of the most cutting-edge space technology in the world. Future generations of space explorers will no doubt benefit from the scientific advancements being made today, right here in Bucks.