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How local giving is changing lives in Islington

Islington Giving

500 years ago, a man called John Sworder donated £40 to his church for the poor.

His pledge is now worth millions and his story continues to inspire others to give and to help change lives in a very practical way.

Islington Giving delivers more than £1 million worth of grants each year to grassroots organisations which help those experiencing poverty, families and young people and those who feel isolated. Since 2010, they’ve helped over 20,000 people.

Islington Giving

(Pic credit: Islington Giving, Chance UK, and Monica Alcazar-Duarte)

Funding comes from large and small businesses across the borough as well as donations from residents. A sizeable chunk, including all running costs, is provided by Cripplegate Foundation – a charity that stemmed from Mr Sworder’s original donation in 1500.

Anne Phipps

(Anne Phipps, Islington Giving)

Anne Phipps, Director of Development and Communications at Islington Giving, said: “500 years ago £40 was a lot of money. It, together with donations from other generous benefactors, was invested and is now worth millions for Cripplegate Foundation. In 2008 they commissioned a report on inequality in the borough and found things weren’t getting any better. A number of charitable funders and businesses came together off the back of that report and Islington Giving was formed to help.”

38% of children in Islington live in poverty. The area has less green space than any other London borough, the worst rate of depression in the capital and life expectancy for poorer residents is up to eight years shorter than richer residents.

Anne added: “It’s easy to miss the real picture of life in Islington; we tend to walk down the same streets on our way to and from work each day but just a couple of streets away, life can be very different.

Islington Giving

(Pic credit: Islington Giving, Help on Your Doorstep, and Monica Alcazar-Duarte)

“It is so encouraging and amazing to see the work so many grassroots agencies do to reach out to people in need and to help them. By coming together in this way, businesses have a real picture of what’s happening locally and as well as making financial pledges, many offer key skills or space to hold events.”

Islington Giving, which is run by Kristina Glenn, works with around 70 community groups. They include organisations like Body & Soul (a mental health charity which also offers considerable support to people with HIV), Help on Your Doorstep (a befriending service for isolated and vulnerable people), the Parent House (offering mentoring and support for mothers who are having a tough time) and the Claremont Project (providing dance, exercise and art classes for older people).

They also support various programmes helping young people, including performing arts charities, a mental health clinic and organisations committed to improving the social offering for young people.

Islington Giving oversees The Big Alliance – through this, every secondary school in Islington (bar one) has signed up to a programme offering free mentoring at major local firms for years 10 and 12. Among the participating firms are Expedia, Slaughter and May and The Guardian.

Place-based giving in Islington is thriving but needs your support. As the first “Giving” in London, Islington Giving inspired the London's Giving movement, a collaboration of numerous boroughs individually fundraising and allocating grants for grass roots projects in their communities.

To donate or find out more, visit

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