What’s next for a new trust? (Part two)

DSC's Researcher, and co-author of The Guide to New Trusts, Kallista Jayasuriya, chatted with Alexandra Taliadoros, Director of the Stef & Philips Foundation.

Following on from DSC’s previous interview with Graeme Marsh of the McCarthy Stone Foundation (which you can read here), an established ‘new trust’ that featured in The Guide to New Trusts a few editions ago, we also wanted to hear from a new trust appearing in our latest edition! I am delighted to present an interview with the director of the Stef & Philips Foundation.It registered with the Charity Commission in October 2023 and is associated with Stef & Philips Ltd, a specialist accommodation provider based in London.  

What is your charity’s mission and which causes/grantees do you serve?  

At the Stef & Philips Foundation, we believe in creating a brighter future for a wide range of individuals and families living in temporary and emergency accommodation across the UK. Our vision is to enhance their wellbeing. We offer stability and opportunities to grow so they can overcome challenges and thrive by providing support that goes beyond basic needs.  

Our individual grants, of up to £200, and project grants, of up to £2,000, address various aspects of life, from essential items required for home life (such as bedding, clothing and utility costs) to training and educational support, recreational trips for children or community projects that promote social inclusion and welfare. Our mission is to enhance and enrich the lives of those who may not currently have access to these resources.  

What inspired the establishment of your charity?  

The decision to launch the foundation stems from Stef & Philips Ltd’s direct experience of the challenges faced by those living in temporary and emergency accommodation and the need for additional support beyond just bricks and mortar. We have witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of homelessness. Across the country more than 112,000 households and 145,000 children are in temporary accommodation – an increase of 12.1% since last year.   

Stef & Philips Ltd provides housing support to those living with emotional and practical challenges such as homelessness, care leavers living independently for the first time, single mothers with babies, those living with mobility issues or a disability, or those experiencing mental health and/or addiction challenges. However, we are not just in the business of providing accommodation; we are in the business of creating homes, caring for each individual and family to ensure they flourish. We set up our foundation as we believe that residents of temporary or emergency housing sometimes need more than just a place to live, and so our grants can directly support individuals and families during times of great need. Although established by Stef & Philips Ltd, the foundation is wholly independent.  

What are the challenges of starting out?  

It can be an extremely daunting time at the start of a philanthropic journey. Choosing the focus you wish to take, and the impact you wish to make can be overwhelming, particularly when there are so many worthy causes, and the landscape of need is so desperate and varied in parts.   

What advice would you give to a newly registered trust?  

When starting a philanthropic journey, my advice would be to take your time. Slow down – you don’t need to rush anything, and meaningful change can take time. It’s important to ensure the giving strategy is aligned to the vision and values of the organisation, but also that flexibility is built in, so initiatives like grant programmes can be responsive and adaptable to changing trends of need.   

Furthermore, be bold and innovative regarding how you can achieve as direct an impact as possible. For example, the Stef & Philips Foundation awards grants to individuals, yet mitigates risk of fraud etc. by providing funding to safeguarding referees attached to beneficiaries. Be open to innovation in how grant funding is awarded, and research partners supporting your target audience, who can collaborate on referrals to you, but also administration of funds.   

What advice would you give to those making applications to new trusts?  

Grant administrators often are inundated with applications, so demonstrate how your organisation responds to their eligibility criteria clearly and succinctly. Ensure the most important information is easily read, and evidence your application through statistics and case studies.   

The most successful applications are straightforward and simple. They clearly outline their vision and values, beneficiaries, funding request and their track record in delivery. Always (where appropriate) attach a clear and detailed budget.  

What do you think are the most significant non-financial challenges facing the charity sector?  

The level of demand is ever-changing and ever-increasing, presenting one of the most significant non-financial challenges facing the charity sector. There exists a concerning trend where beneficiaries who require the most assistance can remain unseen and unheard. Often, it’s the biggest charities that are noticed and supported, and more often, people and families in desperate situations don’t know where to turn or where help may be available.   

In my opinion, more connections with societies and greater collaboration are needed across the social economy or charity sector for support to be visible and routes of help to be clear. Attracting and retaining dedicated individuals who are aligned with the charity’s mission is also critical.  

What is the most rewarding aspect about being involved with your charity?  

The most rewarding aspect is undoubtedly witnessing our work’s positive impact on people’s lives. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see tangible results from our efforts, whether helping individuals in need, driving meaningful change in communities, or tackling pressing societal issues.  

For example, with our individual grants, a pregnant mother of a toddler purchased newborn equipment and an individual with complex mental health requirements used the support for essential household items. Our project funding has recently supported two community projects in London, one providing hot, nutritious food for children and younger people residing in temporary and emergency accommodation, and another delivering creative workshops for displaced families.  

Thank you so much Alexandra and the rest of the team at the Stef & Philips Foundation for taking time to provide us with an insight into establishing a new trust. We wish for the foundation’s and its team’s success in the future. Please visit the foundation’s website here for further information and to apply for a grant.  

For more new trusts registered in 2023/24, you can purchase the latest edition of The Guide to New Trusts here.