Renaisi’s CEO John Hitchin presented a paper on the context, challenges and opportunities for place-based funding in the capital to London Funders’ membership network.

City of London as seen from Tower Bridge
Image: Tristan Surtel.

Place and place-based work is ‘having a moment’ in the social and philanthropic sectors but it has absorbed us at Renaisi for more than 20 years, and much of that time has been spent working in and thinking about London.

On 11th October 21 Renaisi’s CEO John Hitchin joined London Funders’ new Advisory Group on Place to share a paper exploring what’s next for place-based funding in London. The group has been set up to re-examine what place means in light of the covid-19 pandemic and generate new thinking about the opportunities and challenges this may bring.

London may seem less relevant to place discourse because its size, economic weight, and hyper-connectivity mean it is not neatly defined and contained like other areas. Neither is it the focus of current government interest in places:

“Imagine if we could level up – not just lengthening London’s lead around the world. But closing the gap between London and the rest of the UK’s great cities. That would increase the national GDP by tens of billions”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson [1]

But the fact that London is different from other parts of the UK doesn’t mean that Place can’t be a useful concept in some cases. Place-based approaches have been and are continuing to make a difference for London. Take a look at the work of:

What was important to attendees of the London Funders Advisory Group was a need to be clearer about when Place isn’t important so as to keep the focus and energy on when it is important. The paper poses questions that funders, and others, can ask of themselves and their work to help with deciding if Place is the right tool for the job.

Read the paper for:

  • definitions and examples of place-based work
  • an exploration of the current context of the capital, particularly regarding COVID, and what relevance Place might have to that context
  • the four recurring themes that always come up in conversations about Place
  • a set of questions for funders, policy makers and other parts of civil society in London to consider about Place, links to other research and practice on Place.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-prime-ministers-levelling-up-speech-15-july-2021

John Hitchin CEO