New Year, New Trustees - Ugo Ikokwu

At the end of 2020 the London Funders membership elected (and re-elected) five new trustees. This week we're sharing their views on lessons learnt from the covid-19 crisis, what a 'good' recovery looks like, and what is needed to ensure that funder collaborations are effective. Here are Ugo Ikowku's (Grants Manager, Trust for London) thoughts...

Ugo joined Trust for London in August 2020. Previously he was the Programme Director at The Fore Trust. Ugo is really passionate about social justice, and empowering small communities. He has extensive knowledge and experience of designing programmes and funds that address a range of social issues.

Welcome (back in some cases) to the London Funders board. What was it about the work of London Funders that made you want to get more involved?
Having worked across a number of different roles and funders in the sector, I have always been impressed with the work of London Funders, its strong track record of collaboration, and shared commitment to strengthening London’s civil society. Most recently, I was really pleased to see the work that the team did in coordinating the London Community Response (LCR) and ensured that funders were working together to help communities thrive beyond covid-19.

To be on our board, you have to be a London Funders member – over your time in our membership, how has London Funders influenced or supported your organisation? 
Having only recently joined Trust for London, I know that London Funders has been a very important partner for The Trust in providing a platform to share best practice and ideas.

Looking ahead to 2021, what ambitions do you have for your organisation and the work that you are doing to support communities?
The key drivers of poverty remain unchanged, as demonstrated by London Poverty Profile -  high cost of housing, low wages, inadequate social security protections, hostile environment for migrants, and the entrenched gap between rich and poor.  The covid-19 emergency has brought these inequalities into sharp focus, and perhaps a realisation amongst the public that many essential roles in society are the lowest paid.  In Spring this year, we start planning for our five year strategy and funding aims for the period January 2023 to December 2027. As a key London foundation, I think it is important for us to continue to plan in a flexible way; to consider emerging trends and be open to meeting the changing needs of the communities we support.

And what ambitions do you hold for London Funders this year?
One of the things 2020 highlighted was the essence of true collaboration and its impact on communities. London Funders was central to that and I would be keen to see them build on the LCR as well as some of the other areas identified in the strategy around placed based giving and encouraging more funders to really consider EDI within their grant making.

As we look towards recovery, what lessons will you take forward from the covid-19 crisis?
Crises are often a moment of change; my experience from humanitarian contexts is that they should never be seen as a temporary breakdown, but rather as processes of change, creating new frameworks of social representation and regulation. The recovery will look different in different areas of the country and only a locally coordinated response will be effective. The effective delivery of any response to a crisis depends largely on agencies working in partnership at the local level.