A voice from the edge (fund)

The Edge Fund has just completed its first round of funding – supporting 28 grassroots groups. Here’s a quick interview with Joe, one of the Edge Fund community:

What’s the vision of The Edge Fund? Our long term goal is to achieve systemic social change. This is not an easy task and will have to be a process which is led by the grassroots as those in power seek to keep things on the whole ‘business as usual’.

We hope we are filling a big gap by offering financial support to these types of grassroots groups who are also working towards this.

We’re particularly interested in supporting groups who are facing discrimination and injustice because of their class, ability, gender, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other factors — those who are actively working to challenge these injustices and to create just and healthy communities.

What was the catalyst for starting the Edge Fund – why now? We are facing monumental injustice and threats from the current economic, ecological and democratic crises in this country and beyond. All power and resources are held by the privileged few who are putting the worst effects of economic failure onto ordinary people.
What made you get involved? My background is campaigning around climate change, squatting and against the trebling of student fees. I have struggled, as many have in the past, at the near impossibility of securing funding for grassroots work of a radical nature. Inaccessible funding application forms and unhealthy hierarchies make the whole process soul destroying. It was clear the Edge Fund was on a mission to be different.

What have been the biggest challenges so far? For me the hardest part was getting 25 members, all of very different backgrounds, to agree on a shared values statement. This was always going to be tricky, and took many hours of sometimes painful meetings but we did it through good facilitation skills and a shared understanding that we’re all working for the same thing in the long term.

And the most exciting things so far? During the first round of funding, once there was 30 applications left from the 334 we received in total, members were allocated a group/groups to get more information from. I was given Critical Education Project, Britain on Trial, UK Via Campesina and Fuel Poverty Action. I managed to meet up with three of them and had a conversation with one over the phone. It felt like a very empowering process where we were already building a mutually beneficial process both for the funder and grantee. The first thing I told them all was that my background was not in funding which immediately broke down the inherent power inequality.

How hopeful are you having seen the applications for your first round? I was extremely happy with the 28 groups who received some support from Edge Fund during the first round. I was really pleased with all 4 of my groups that I was allocated and my favourite project was Disabled People Against The Cuts who are a really strong campaign standing up for Disabled People’s rights all across the country. All I hope for is that we will be able to give out more cash next time.