Today's columnist, Ruth Willis: Be part of the giving legacy

Working as a ehief executive for South Yorkshire's Community Foundation (SYCF), the local grant-making charity, gives me a great sense of pride and purpose.

Friday, 5th February 2016, 16:14 pm
Updated Friday, 5th February 2016, 16:19 pm
Community Foundation (SYCF) Thorne and Moorends Food Bank Group. Pix: Shaun Flannery/

What we do is simple, we create grant funding to distribute to local community groups, tackling all the issues and problems that local people face. It sounds simple but it’s a big challenge.

It’s our birthday this year and we are celebrating 30 years of helping to create a better South Yorkshire.

In that time we have distributed more than £25 million in grant awards.

Yet I can’t help but think that though £25m is a huge amount and each grant has gone to a good cause, this isn’t nearly high enough.

Here’s why. In Yorkshire and the Humber there are more than 10,000 voluntary or community organisations many in Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley, the areas we support.

They are helping the elderly beat isolation or enabling disadvantaged kids to get the most out of their education.

They are helping homeless people get off the streets or supporting people struggling with illness.

Each one of them is doing something unique, worthwhile and much needed.

These are the groups we support with our grant awards and with government funding for charitable organisations in decline that £25m figure needs to keep growing.

We are only able to do what we do thanks to the generosity of local philanthropists.

Individuals, families and businesses are just as invested in helping to create a better South Yorkshire as the groups we support.

Yet it isn’t always easy to remember to give local. We all know the names of the big national charities doing good work across the UK.

In comparison, the local groups we help are often unheard of as they carry on with the same or specialised work across our region.

The people of South Yorkshire need to recognise and be proud of the legacy of giving and community that these small groups have created and more importantly become a part of it.

Whatever giving local means to you, I encourage you to go ahead and do it.

Whether that means volunteering at a nearby foodbank or making cakes for a fundraiser, or helping us to raise even more money, go ahead and do it and become a part of the South Yorkshire giving legacy.

* Ruth Willis, Chief Executive, South Yorkshire Community Foundation