Charity Team London

Working with London’s Civil Society

Civil Society is the term used to describe the voluntary and community organisations, as well as informal groups of people, who come together to make the community a better place to live.

The Mayor is committed to working with London’s Civil Society to support communities and deliver services to help make the capital the thriving vibrant place that it is. 

Civil Society projects

We are working with Civil Society on a number of projects, including:

Grants and funding

The GLA distributes grants to support communities and civil society organisations. Below you will find grants that are both currently open and grants that will be available soon. This page is updated regularly.

Grants open for bids

Active Londoners

Applications are now open for Active Londoners funding (grants of up to £75,000).

Active Londoners is a key theme of the Mayor’s  Sport Unites programme. It funds individuals and not-for-profit organisations (non-sporting and sporting) who use sport to improve the physical and mental health of Londoners.

  • Small grants – up to £5,000 for a project or event that will take up to 12 weeks to complete
  • Medium grants – between £25,000 and £75,000 for a project that will take up to 12 months to complete.

Applications close at midday on Thursday 28 February 2019.

Read more about the fund and how to apply

Culture Seeds Grants

Communities can now bid for grants ranging from £1,000 – £5,000 as part of the Mayor’s Culture Seeds Fund. The new grants will be used to support community-led cultural projects in every London borough.

Grants are available to fund arts and culture and heritage projects and activities. This includes visual and performing arts (music, dance and theatre), film screenings, digital art, cultural events and festivals, literature, spoken word, reading groups, craft and making activities, choirs and singing groups and creative writing.

Who can apply?

  • individual Londoners
  • not-for-profit organisations with an annual turnover of less than £50,000

Culture Seeds is now open for applications. Culture Seeds is a two-year rolling programme. There are no deadlines and you can apply at any time. Funding will be available until Spring 2020. 

Read more about the fund and how to apply.

Small Grants Scheme: In the Making

Applications for new funding programme, Small Grants: In the Making, are open.

OPDC invites members of the community to apply for grants of £500-£5,000 to support community arts, culture and heritage projects taking place in Old Oak and Park Royal. The grants will help uncover and showcase the creativity of London's largest and most vibrant industrial area.

The project is part of the Great Place Scheme, funded by the National Lottery, Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund and managed by OPDC.

Visit the OPDC website for guidance on how to apply.

Housing Innovation Fund

The Mayor's Innovation Fund is available for those using innovative ways to deliver more affordable homes in London. This is part of Homes for Londoners, which brings together the Mayor’s work to tackle the housing crisis.

Innovation can take many forms, but the Mayor is keen to understand how funding can support:

  • community-led housing
  • offsite and precision manufacturing of homes 
  • new accommodation for homeless households

We are encouraging proposals from those that provide genuinely affordable homes to Londoners. 

Read more about the fund and how to apply.

Good practice case studies

Here we share good practice case studies from Civil Society organisations across London. We will be profiling innovative projects and celebrating the work and value of London's Civil Society. A new case study, written by a Civil Society organisation, will be shared each month, documenting their success and sharing key learning.

Campaigning for Windrush Justice

Working together to achieve change - Emma Harrison, Director of IMiX and Satbir Singh, CEO of JCWI


Many Windrush people have, since around 2012, been targeted by the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policy – stopping them from working, renting property, or accessing benefits and services, and in some cases meaning they have been detained or deported – as they didn’t have adequate paperwork to prove their right to live in the UK. Many turned to charities for help. 

As a coalition of charities working across race equality and refugee and migrants’ rights, we came together to work out how we could make a difference to the members of the Windrush generation. We wanted to secure their status as British citizens while shining a light on the pernicious and harmful effects of the hostile environment more broadly and its impact on other people who choose to make the UK their home. 

To make this campaign successful we knew we’d need the backing of journalists, politicians and the public, and crucially the community itself. 

The biggest challenge – and the most rewarding one – was supporting people to step up and talk about their experiences. Colleagues invested a lot of time in meeting people, hearing their stories and then guiding them through the process of media interviews. Critically, we spent time talking to the journalists to ensure they understood what was at stake each time someone spoke out. 

From Paulette Wilson, who worked in the House of Commons and was then held in detention, to Albert Thompson, who was being refused lifesaving cancer treatment; the members of the Windrush Generation were the real heroes of this campaign. They showed bravery and courage in telling their stories.

Those people and their stories unlocked the support of the Guardian and Channel 4 News, which in turn generated more coverage from across the media spectrum, leading to 77 front page stories and 20 per cent of the population saying they’d read about Windrush.

With campaigning, timing is everything. We worked with the High Commissioners from Caribbean countries to exert political pressure during the Commonwealth Summit (CHOGM 2018). The government’s initial refusal to engage with the High Commissioners on the Windrush scandal generated significant media coverage and provided a platform for MPs at Westminster to challenge government policy. 

In addition to the political and media activity, we commissioned polling to guide messaging and demonstrate public opposition to the treatment of the Windrush generation. We amplified a widely shared petition started by an affected person and invested time in social media to keep the debate going. 

The resulting media coverage and political debate dominated the UK news agenda for weeks, even at a time when the UK was taking military action abroad, leading to people from the Windrush generation receiving an apology from government and a process to confirm their status, transforming hundreds of people’s lives.

We learned so much during the campaign and there are so many things we would have done differently:

  • Agreeing a hashtag would have been beneficial for our social media work
  • Involving more groups at an early stage would have helped us reach more politicians, journalists and supporters
  • Involving the community more - with them not for them is such an important mantra
  • Be ready with “what next” as we achieved our campaign aim (relatively) quickly meaning we didn’t have our plan for dismantling the hostile environment ready
  • Our biggest lesson was in working together. Coalition working is hard, but worth the investment. It is all about relationships; honesty, openness and clarity in roles and responsibilities. Leave your ego at the door and don’t worry about the organisational brand. Say thank you often and give your colleagues a lift when the going gets tough
  • Finally, celebrate more! Success is hard to come by, when you win, shout it from the rooftops 

Core coalition IMiX, JCWI , Runnymede Trust, Praxis Community Projects and Refugee and Migrant Centre 

Superhighways - building data and digital skills in small charities and community groups

Building data and digital skills in small charities and community groups - Kate White, Superhighways Manager

Superhighways is a small friendly team of five with a passion for helping local communities make best use of technology for social impact. We have been helping hundreds of small local charities and community groups in south London to do more with digital for 20 years.

Our current City Bridge Trust funded Impact Aloud project focuses on supporting organisations across 10 south London boroughs to use digital tools to better capture and communicate their impact. Experiences from this work, alongside the Data Evolution project’s Data Maturity Framework for the Social Sector and The Way Ahead’s Data Sharing for Civil Society (co-chaired by us), has increasingly led to a recognition that data literacy and digital skills go hand in hand, together enabling groups to better evidence need, measure impact and influence local policy.

Data learning events

As a result we’ve recently been testing ways to reach out to small local charities and community groups to get them interested in, and gain a better understanding of, the potential of data. 

Following the success of a data event in Kingston, we set about partnering with Croydon Voluntary Action to co-ordinate a data learning event - this time for Croydon groups. 

We tweaked the format - squeezing a packed agenda into a morning session - mindful of the capacity of smaller organisations to step away from service delivery.

We approached the GLA and London Plus, both with new Civil Society Data Officer and Data and Intelligence Co-ordinators posts, to enlist their help, and met to collaborate on creating a data resource to give out on the day and discuss some scenario based exercises in relation to the London Data Store.

In addition, we contacted the Croydon Data Observatory and a local Data Scientist in order to utilise local and London wide assets. 

On the day
Representatives from 15 small charities and community organisations attended the event and after a little scene setting, we kicked off with some data capture of our own, to get a feel for where organisations in the room were with their use of data.

Small group peer sharing

Then it was time to hear from some Croydon based organisations we’d been in touch with to talk about their data journeys. They shared key tools used for data collection and the challenges around data and partnership projects. They also shared an example of how analysing data had led them to identify a gap in service provision. As a result, they developed targeted services to reach people in this part of the borough. It was heartening to hear one group explain how a new job role with an Information and Communications remit had recently been created, building in-house capacity to do more with data.

Show and tell

We then took to the floor to give a demonstration of some free mapping data tools including Batch Geo, Google My Maps, My Society’s MapIt, London Data Store’s Borough / Ward Mapping Template and Power BI. The aim was to showcase a range of tools available to everyone, and by doing a live demonstration, also reassure the attendees that they are genuinely simply to use. We gave out the co-designed take away resource featuring useful tools and data sources and offered follow up support under our funded Impact Aloud project - an obvious bonus.

Local Croydon Data

We then had a great demo from a member of the Croydon Data Observatory team – a self confessed data geek with a genuine interest in supporting communities utilise available data and happy to share his email for future queries or support required! 

London Data Store

The GLA and London Plus data officers were up next as a double act, introducing the audience to the wealth of information held with the GLA’s London Data Store.  They walked through a really useful example looking at borough profiles and focussing on data about social isolation – a key issue that Croydon’s voluntary and community sector address.  It was also an opportunity to promote the GLA’s civil society data office hours and bursary tickets sponsored by London Plus to the first UK Data4Good conference.

Introducing Open Data

Everyone is interested in who is funding who – so we used this slot to showcase the 360Giving data set containing grants data from a range of funders publishing to an open standard.   A local Data Scientist very generously used this data alongside other open data from the Charity Commission to draw together a picture of the funding make up in Croydon.


The event was a great success and from our point of view worked well as an introductory step for these small local groups into the world of data. 
We will be following up with groups to find out what they did as a result - capturing success stories as well as any barriers faced when attempting to implement the learning. 

Croydon Voluntary Action's Head of Community Involvement said 'As the local voluntary sector umbrella organisation, CVA is really passionate about community groups and their amazing work in Croydon. In today's digital world, data analysis has become more and more crucial in understanding/visualising communities strengths and needs and showcasing the profound impact of the works of our charities. The event offered to groups provided just that: knowledge, tips and inspirations for an easier and effective use of data through accessible inexpensive tools, opening up the doors to commissioning, attracting future funding, partnership and impact'.

See our online round up of the event for further information including all resources referred to in this blog.

Key learnings

  • Peer sharing always goes down well!  Small groups talking about their own experiences can inspire and encourage others to follow their lead. 
  • Collaboration is key – working with others meant we could leverage additional expertise and build relationships for future joint working or support
  • Make it local – utilising local assets and focussing on scenarios that are relevant to a particular borough will widen impact
  • Maximise learning for attendees –  creating a resource as a tangible take away takes time but will pay off as can be tweaked and re-used time and again
  • Use events as a way of capturing data yourself whilst you have a captive audience!  Online interactive tools are a great way to get input from attendees – in this instance benchmarking data maturity and flagging challenges faced
  • Check and double check wifi!  Be flexible to roll with it if connections go down!

Kate White, Superhighways Manager
[email protected]

Resources for Civil Society groups

Are you looking for volunteers for your organisation? Do you want training or access to London’s data? Take a look at the information below to find out more about what’s on offer for civil society organisations.

Volunteering and support

We offer a range of programmes to help build capacity within Civil Society, including volunteering, training and advice.

Team London

If you are interested in recruiting volunteers for your charity or project, Team London can help. We help more than 2,500 charities find the right people.

The Team London website can help you find volunteers from a community of more than 150,000 volunteers.

Team London Skill-Up

The Team London Skill-Up programme matches skilled business volunteers with staff from small charities.

Find out more about how to take part

Trustee training

Team London is passionate about ensuring trustees and charity staff are properly supported in this important role.

Find out about a series of free workshops in 2018.

Free digital skills training for Young Londoners

Six funded digital training courses will be on offer throughout the year - free to eligible young Londoners. 

Find out how to apply

Data for Civil Society organisations

London Data Store

The London Data Store is a free and open data-sharing portal where anyone can access data relating to the capital.

Whether you’re a citizen, charity, business owner, researcher or developer, the site provides more than 700 datasets to help you understand the city and develop solutions to its problems. 

We are now running Data Store office hours, email us any question or query about London's data to [email protected] and we will respond, signpost and support you to find what you need. 

Explore the data store


Useful Datasets

We've put together a document with useful datasets which are open and can be accessed by all. Download the datasets document here.


Crime and policing data

The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) publishes data and statistics on a range of policing and crime indicators. 

See data and statistics published by MOPAC


Smart London

At London Tech Week in June 2017, the Mayor set out an ambition for London to become the smartest city in the world. He has asked London’s new Chief Digital Officer and the Smart London Board to secure London’s position at the forefront of innovation in smart cities and what is known as advanced urban services.

Together they are starting a Listening Exercise for a new Smart London Plan. This will result in measures for a future, inclusive London in line with mayoral strategies and the London Plan. 

Find out more about the Smart London plan


Supporting tech and digital

The Mayor wants to see the benefits of new technology and digital opportunities shared by all Londoners.

This includes addressing digital connectivity, ensuring young people get the right skills to fill a growing number of digital, creative and technology jobs, convening tech entrepreneurs and industry-leading investors through TeachInvest and much more. 

Find out more about the Mayor’s support for Tech and Digital sectors

Refugee and Migrant Data Project

The Mayor recognises the importance of Civil Society in supporting communities, delivering services and making London the vibrant place that it is. Data can play an important role in supporting organisations to measure impact, support delivery and improve advocacy. However, in order to realise its potential there is a need for improved data skills and capacity.

We are seeking a delivery partner to work with the sector to:

  • develop ethical principles for data collection and use.
  • develop and pilot data skills training to a cohort of refugee and migrant sector organisations.
  • support organisations in implementing training through tailored post-training support, co-design of further training and partnership building between participating organisations

City Hall will award up to £25,000 for this piece of work and are welcoming joint applications. In particular we encourage partnerships between refugee and migrant sector organisations and training or data for good organisations. The expectation is the programme will run from December 2018 to August 2019. The deadline for applications was 19 November.

Download the tender specification here.

London Civil Society Leaders Programme

The Mayor is offering a grant for a partner organisation to deliver a pilot ‘London Civil Society Leaders’ programme. The programme will be expected to build confidence, capabilities and ability to develop partnerships that can strengthen London’s civil society. This includes partnerships within civil society, as well as with City Hall and funders in London.

Activities run through the programme could include training, peer to peer learning and opportunities to work with the GLA on specific initiatives and projects relating to civil society such as research or enquiry projects.

Participants will have the opportunity to develop a specific project or enquiry with GLA teams. This will bring civil society expertise into City Hall and strengthen relationships between civil society and GLA officers. The projects will be identified with the support of GLA Officers. Delivery will take place between March 2019 and February 2020.

The deadline for applications is 1 March 2019.

Contact us

If you would like further information or to contact the team, please email [email protected].