Trace is from one of the groups funded in our racial justice round and took part in the shortlisted for round 5. She has written a message about her experience shortlisting and a call out for support:
Hi my name is Trace and I took part in shortlisting.
This is my first time that I got to witness how hard it is to have to say no to groups and this was not because they’re not good enough but because we don’t have the funds to support them to continue to make a difference.
Please please please can you help us, your support would make such an impact for these grassroots community-led local organisations that work so hard to support their communities and just need a financial stepping stones whilst they continue with the groundwork. This support is often what’s needed to show us that you do believe in what we’re doing and gives us that energy that we need to continue as we are often disheartened when asking for help and hearing no.
I really hope you support and thank you in advance for your generosity.
Bristol volunteers are challenging traditional charity models and putting power in to the hands of the community to decide which groups receive funds to support their work. 21 shortlisted groups are now joining forces to raise funds to be shared between them.
Bristol Redistro is a small collective of volunteers who fundraise to support community action in Bristol. They offer an alternative to traditional charity funding in several important ways; they will only fund groups set up by the community themselves, funding decisions are made by community activists who make decisions based on their own life experience and knowledge of Bristol communities, and the funds are given without restrictions or strings attached.
One of the collective, Sophie, said “when we first started this project we wondered how much need there was for it. How much is there going on at grassroots level in Bristol? Since our first round our applications have tripled and we now know there are many more groups out there we haven’t yet got word to”.
In this 5th round Redistro received 42 applications, their biggest yet. Eleven community activists were involved in shortlisting 21 groups. Redistro had already raised £15,000 for this round, but the total amount needed is over £20,000. Redistro and the 21 shortlisted groups are now collectively aiming to raise the extra amount needed by 3 June, when all the groups will be coming together. The 21 groups are from across a range of communities, including the trans+ community, migrant, black and brown communities, sex workers, women and non-binary people, and includes environmental and anti-capitalist campaigns. A list of the projects is given in their crowdfund: https://tinyurl.com/bdfpjyfm
Sophie continued, “our original idea was that we wanted to provide a way for people who are better off financially to support communities who are most affected by inequality. The cost of living crisis means people are struggling more than ever, but the reality is that some are not affected at all, and perhaps are looking for a way to offer solidarity to others”.
Redistro has been running since 2019 and after this round will have distributed around £60,000 to grassroots groups in Bristol, many of whom have been self-funded until this point. Last year they helped to distribute £15,000 from the Colston 4 campaign in a special Racial Justice round. You can support the current round by donating to the crowdfund:
We’re excited to share with you that we received 42 applications for our 5th round! This is our biggest round yet, with the total amount requested over £40,000. Reading through the applications it’s impossible to imagine how our panel will be able to turn any down, but the reality is we only have enough funds to support around a quarter of them.
Our funding criteria states that applicant groups must be self-organised – the group must have been set up by and for the community. Eligible groups work to address an issue affecting them and aim to create a just, equitable and liveable world. The whole ethos of Redistro is that we give financial support to communities who are doing things their way, rather than having solutions imposed on them.
In this round we have such a range of applications, covering healthcare and safety for the trans+ community, decolonising education, reducing isolation of migrants and refugees, collective healing and group therapy for people of African descent, making white male dominated sports more accessible, migrant-led theatre exploring migration and motherhood, wellbeing and mental health courses for women and non-binary people, free educational support for young people of African and Caribbean descent who are at risk of exclusion, healing support for sexual abuse survivors, community gardens and guerilla gardening. If these sound like projects you’d like to see supported please donate if you can and/or share this link with friends and on social media: https://www.chuffed.org/project/get-behind-more-grassroots-social-change-in-bristol
Our decision-makers for this round are people from groups previously funded and they’re busy reading and scoring applications ahead of the shortlisting meeting on Saturday. Wish them luck, it’s a tough job!
Thank you so much for your support and for making it possible to give a small amount of money to groups that often are just self-funded and have never received a grant before – its goes a long way and is so appreciated.
We’ll let you know who makes it into the shortlist after the weekend. Excited to find out what happens!
On the face of it, Redistro looks like an organisation that gives £1,000 grants to community groups in Bristol. Which it does, but that’s just a small part of the story.
We live in a world where we have little control over our own lives. At home we have a landlord telling us we can’t paint our walls. We go to work and we have a boss, and maybe even a boss’s boss, telling us what to do. Politicians decide what public services we have, where we can travel to, how much money we can have, and make a whole host of other decisions that affect us, often without ever having walked in our shoes. Corporations are also having an increasing impact on our daily lives and have even less accountability.
The funding world is no different. Large foundations with millions in the bank pick and choose which organisations are worthy of their money and dictate how that money should be used. Often they impose their ideas and values onto others and projects fail because they are not workable for the community they’re supposed to help. The rich often give money to charity to avoid tax, improve their reputations or even to influence government policy.
What if we lived in a world where we had control over our own lives? How would we collectively make the decisions that are currently imposed upon us? There are lots of models of doing this, such as workers’ co-operatives, companies that are run by the people who work there, as equals. Within grantmaking there is a growing trend to use participatory methods which put the decisions about funding into the hands of those affected by them. Redistro is modelled on Edge Fund, which was set up in 2012 and was one of the first funders to use participatory grantmaking in the UK.
So Redistro is about power. The people with the power to decide who receives our funding are the people on the ground doing the work: people who know the communities, what they need and what’s going to work because they are part of the community themselves.
The process itself brings so much more to grantmaking than the distribution of money. By reading applications and meeting other applicants we not only learn about people’s lives that may be very different to our own, but also discover the multitude of ways communities are seeking to change their own circumstances. We may discover we have skills and resources to offer others and that they can in turn help us. This process helps build empathy and solidarity between communities and aids us in taking a more intersectional approach to our work, where we more fully understand and take into account how our identities and struggles are connected. We might identify some common enemies along the way. It also gives us hope and inspiration to meet others who are as dedicated as we are to creating change for, and with, those around us.
Lastly, Redistro is about challenging ourselves to acknowledge that when we have wealth we have power, and when we give away money we are often perpetuating that power. Philanthropists the world over use their money to further their own interests. Charity rarely brings about justice, as why would the rich want to change the systems that made them so? But when someone donates to Redistro they don’t get to say how their money is used, the power is passed on to others who wouldn’t normally get the privilege to decide. So here we have the chance to support projects that challenge the systems that cause harm.
Redistro is a small experiment in how a just and equal society could work. In this case we’re sharing out a pot of money. Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where we could use similar processes to share out other resources, a world where the only people who get to make decisions about our lives are us.
Round 5 is open – apply before midnight, 1 May 2023.
Bristol Redistro is a small group of volunteers. We raise money and distribute it to groups in Bristol working to challenge inequality and injustice and creating positive alternatives. We’ve distributed around £40,000 to small grassroots groups, most had never received funding before.
This year we were proud to have been given the funds from the Colston 4 fundraiser that were no longer needed for the defendants’ legal support. People from our previously funded groups helped to redistribute the £15,000 to 15 Black and Brown led groups in Bristol, who were then brought together to celebrate their work and learn from each other. We have also been working on a zine about wealth inequality and created and run a workshop to guide people wanting to reflect on their privileges and take action.
The good news is that we have £10,000 in the bank so we can launch another funding round! But before we can do that we need more hands on deck. Could you spare a few hours a week over a couple of months to help with promoting the funding round, administration of applications and organisation of funding meetings? If so, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn more about what’s happening on the ground in Bristol and to meet the people behind this important and transformational work.
We hope to hear from you! In the meantime, we hope that you get what you need over the upcoming break and have a wonderful start to 2023.
You are warmly invited to join Bristol Redistro’s upcoming workshop:
‘Effective ways of responding to our privilege – how do we redistribute wealth and power?’
Monday 25th October, 7pm – 9pm, via zoom
Facilitated by Ryan Davey and Jay Wilkinson
8 places available
Cost: free / donation to Bristol Redistro
This workshop is for people who have more wealth than they need to survive and feel uncertainty about how best it could be used. It will be an opportunity to learn and share in a non-judgmental, participatory setting, where we consider the privileges and access to resources that we have, think about how best to use them and work on breaking down our barriers to doing so.