Tracey Walsh is the Chief Executive of the East End Community Foundation. Based in East London, the East End Community Foundation (EECF) is dedicated to increasing opportunities for people living in Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and the City of London. For 25 years they have been giving grants to those charities who make the most difference at grassroots level and delivering programmes which directly support the most vulnerable. In the run up to Christmas, Tracey and her team are hard at work to help those less fortunate than us get the extra resources and help to get through a time of year that is hard for many. We talk to Tracey as she prepares for their annual toy collection and food bag campaign.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and what the East End Community Foundation does?
EECF tackles poverty in the east end through grant making. With our extensive knowledge of local needs and the great groups out there delivering essential services, we act as an advisor and broker between those with the ability to give, and those charities effectively supporting local residents in need. I head up the Foundation and have worked here for 20 years. I love it!
2. Tell us about the food bag / toy shop campaigns that you are running. Why is this such an important initiative for the East End of London?
They are great schemes that reach those genuinely in need. The food bags initiative reaches out to elders experiencing poverty and isolation. And are likely to be alone during Christmas, and the toy appeal benefits the children of families of low incomes. Both bring a little cheer, and that’s all thanks to the support of our generous donors.
3. How can people get involved in this if they would like to?
You can either donate money and we’ll do the shopping for you, or you can donate toys or food items via our office. Click on the donate button on our website and it will take you to the relevant page, but if you need more information just give us a call on 020 7345 4444. The more people donate, the more people will benefit.
4. Can you tell us something about the East End of London that most people probably aren’t aware of?
It’s so interesting, diverse and fast paced. The place is almost unrecognisable from one month to the next with every square inch under construction. Its bringing new people, bars and restaurants which is great, but if you are in the ‘just about managing’ category, which so many people here are, is must to difficult to see how these changes benefit you. Despite being awash with £1m apartments, we have high levels of youth unemployment and above average levels of pensioner poverty. Inequality here is a real issue.
5. What is the best part of your job?
For me it’s seeing the results of bringing donors and charities together, and the impact they have. People often work in silos or have a certain perception, and what EECF does is make those introductions and gets people thinking outside the box. Change doesn’t happen otherwise.
6. Most memorable moment?
I’m lucky that I’ve had so many that I find it hard to choose. One would definitely be my first day at work, I can remember it so clearly. I was incredibly nervous. Another would be meeting the Queen!
7. What do you love most about London?
I love the fact that whatever you want to do or try, you can do it here. It’s an amazing City full of passionate and innovative people. With the network of charities here, London also provides an amazing support system for those most in need.
8. What one piece of advice would you give to someone looking to get involved/start in the charity sector?
Start by volunteering. It’s a great way to find out what its really like and if its for you. There’s always opportunities at EECF, from helping with our community research to assisting us with our communications and events. We also have a huge network of charities that we fund, and they are often looking for volunteers too.
9. Anything else you would like to add that we haven’t covered in the interview already?
I just want to say that community and place are really important and whether you have always lived in the East End or have just settled here please think about supporting local needs. If you live here, give here. You’ll be making a difference and you will feel great too.