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Lewisham Local - the story so far...


Lewisham Local giving scheme started as a pilot at the end of 2016. Founded on an asset-based approach, initial work focused on two localities, connecting local assets to local good causes. The focus has now scaled up to borough-wide initiatives that encourage businesses and employers to connect with the community, support good causes and increase local giving in Lewisham.

Lewisham has a strong and vibrant voluntary and community sector but no significant grant makers other than Lewisham Council. It also lacks large businesses and has few SMEs. However, it boasts a high proportion of micro businesses with skills, knowledge and expertise.


Building on these assets, Lewisham Local’s non-cash focused initiatives have grown to involving over 500 local businesses and employers across all initiatives. The first initiative, Lewisham Local Card, is a reward card for local volunteers with local businesses offering discounts. This project has been the foundation of a network of community-minded businesses and has led to new initiatives to encourage businesses to give including:

  • Skills sharing workshops - businesses offer workshops to share their skills and expertise, helping upskill local organisations. These have included social media, IT security, accounting, communications, HR, coaching, and time management an efficiency.
  • Lewisham Community Toilets - organisations and businesses offer free access to their toilet facilities.
  • Refill Lewisham – free water refill stations to reduce single-use plastic waste. Part of the wider Refill London scheme.
  • In-Kind Donations of surplus stock, space and other resources

Cross Sector Collaboration

Helping the direction of Lewisham Local is a cross-sector collaborative group involving Lewisham Council, Goldsmiths University, South East London Chamber of Commerce and local voluntary and community sector organisations. Cross-sector collaboration has created many connections and opportunities for Lewisham Local. Maximising connections with local students from Goldsmiths University, through volunteering placements and paid internships to work flexibly and build our network. Lewisham Council has played a leading role in the strategic development of Lewisham Local from both officers and elected members. This may be unusual in comparison to other local giving schemes but close working with Lewisham Council has been an asset, helping create new connections and opportunities, such as Community Toilets. The Council also plays an active role in the local voluntary and community sector, due to a protected main grants programme and lack of local funders and established Lewisham charities independent of public funding.

Working with small and micro businesses can be very rewarding but needs to be approached with care. Motivation for local businesses to connect with their community and give is present, but this often requires time and investment and building of trust to be realised. Small local businesses are under increasing pressure to survive and Lewisham Local’s approach has been to create flexible giving opportunities that match the businesses assets as well as establish clear reciprocal benefits for businesses to be involved, such as increased promotion, access to skills sharing workshops and the discount network for their business. This has helped grow the number of local businesses involved and built trust and relationship quicker than a one-way giving relationship.


The asset-based community development approach in Lewisham has attracted investment from Lewisham Council’s main grants to build capacity, connections and support in the local community and voluntary sector. Lewisham Local’s initiatives continue to grow through interest from micro-businesses and their initiatives will continue to connect local people and organisations who want to share their assets of time, skills, expertise with others.

Financial giving will be a clear focus for Lewisham Local moving forward with plans to launch a small grants fund in Spring 2020 in partnership with Lewisham Council and use this to attract more financial investment for good causes in Lewisham.