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We interview Dr Lynne Guyton, CEO of John Lyon’s Charity, Ealing’s largest grant-giving funder for children and young people

Last week, John Lyon’s Charity (JLC), Ealing’s largest grant-giving funder in supporting children and young people launched a new five-year strategy which it says will help charities keep on providing their services in the wake of the cost of living crisis and following the pandemic.

The Charity supports a number of groups and organisations across the borough and its seven towns including Young Ealing Foundation Acton Park Playcentre Leisure Events (A.P.P.L.E)DescendantsEaling Primary CentreGifford Primary SchoolZnaniye Foundation.

EALING.NEWS spoke to Dr Lynne Guyton, CEO of John Lyon’s Charity to find out more about the work it does in Ealing and across the borough as well as what it has been funding and the importance of running youth clubs.

What areas of funding in Ealing has John Lyon’s Charity seen the most requests for in recent years?
We fund a number of groups in Ealing who benefit from our grants. In particular, we have seen an increased interest in our Cultural Capital funding in the borough of Ealing in the last few years. To encourage schools to prioritise and provide more arts activities for their pupils, we designed the Cultural Capital Fund to ensure that access to high quality Arts activities, delivered by the best Arts practitioners, are accessible to all children across the Charity’s Beneficial Area. We have been delighted to bridge the gap between Ealing schools and Arts organisations in London off the back of this funding. As a result, we have been able to send Ealing schools to watch shows such as The Lion King, Frozen and many more. For many of these children and young people it is has been their first visit to the theatre, so a real life changing experience.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a grant-giving funder?
The biggest challenge we face as a funder is seeing the impact of a decline in state funding for schools, youth clubs and emotional well-being, and a subsequent increase in the demand for our funds. We know we cannot fund every organisation. However, our new strategy will help us focus our funds where they can have the most impact and that will help us with this challenge in the long-term. Our new funding approach will mean organisations can request larger grants for longer periods of time to help alleviate the financial pressures and worries of the current climate.

What has impressed John Lyon’s Charity about Ealing’s youth and young people and what they do?
The commitment and dedication that we have seen from Ealing’s young people over the years has been extraordinary. Most recently, John Lyon’s Charity supported Young Ealing Foundation and its Ealing Young Champions in its mission to save the Young Adult Centre in Southall – a vital youth club within the Ealing community. To see these strong minded young people stand up for what they believe in and urge Ealing Council not to destroy the Young Adult Centre – and win this battle – was beyond inspiring. We were and continue to be very proud of these young people and will do all we can to encourage and support all the young people we have the pleasure of working with.

For how many years have you been giving grants to Ealing groups and what achievements have you seen through your grant making which if it wasn’t for your support, it would not have happened?
Since 1991 we have awarded over £186m across our Beneficial Area and a large portion of that funding sits in Ealing. Last year alone, we awarded £1.4m to a number of groups who operate in Ealing, including Education and Skills Development Group (ESDEG), which is a shining example of supplementary education. ESDEG’s high-quality Supplementary Schools are NRCSE-accredited and have been supported by John Lyon’s Charity since 2008. Since that time, ESDEG has received over £290,000 towards its supplementary schools and school holiday activities. We are very proud to have supported a number of charities in Ealing and regularly receive feedback of thanks and gratitude because our funding does have a huge impact on the groups we support.

Recently Ealing Council decided to retrofit the YAC in Southall and not close it down, what do you think about it and do you think there needs to be more youth centres across Ealing?
As mentioned above, we are very proud of Young Ealing Foundation and its Ealing Young Champions. However, more certainly needs to be done within the borough. There are only three Youth Clubs in Ealing, one of which is the Young Adult Centre. In the area of Southall there are over 16,000 young people, many of whom rely on the YAC as their source of social interaction as well as it being a hub for extracurricular sport and clubs. This means that the borough needs more youth clubs, more support from the Council and more funding where possible so that young people, living in an already disadvantaged area can have access to the same opportunities as anyone else. We are certainly doing our part, but more needs to be done.

EALING.NEWS also spoke to Mohamed Ahmed, director at ESDEG who got funding from JLC and spoke of the importance of it for the work they do. He said: “The funding from John Lyon’s Charity helped ESDEG grow and provide much needed services to the most deprived sections of the community. It helped us secure funds from other funders and has helped others to trust us, too. JLC has helped the children and young people we work with.

“The success of the children we have taught since 2006 is down to funders like JLC – without their funding it would have been very difficult for those young people to excel in their education and secure successful careers. Grants from JLC have been the backbone to our work and our success is their success.”

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