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Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust have respectively made a £200,000 and £100,000 six year, interest free loan, to Refuaid for its Equal Access Loan Programme. Refuaid is an organisation supporting access to language tuition, education, finance, and meaningful employment. The Equal Access Loan Programme provides interest-free loans to people with UK refugee status who are unable to pay for the cost of completing the licensing or training needed to work in their professional field in the UK. The £300,000 investment made by the two Foundations was co-designed with RefuAid to enable greater impact: for the first 4 years of the investment term, loan repayments can be redrawn and recycled to be re-lent to new borrowers. The maximum Equal Access Loan amount is £10,000.

Loans may be used for:

• Short-term (2 years or less) training
• Exam fees with a professional governing association
• Travel expenses to and from an exam
• Qualification assessments
• Professional association fees
• Books and course materials
• Living allowance during study time
• Other related expenses

In addition to their £200,000 investment, Esmée Fairbairn have also provided a grant of £55,000 to RefuAid to enable the hiring of a Placement Lead to launch RefuAid’s new recruitment arm. The recruitment arm will mean that RefuAid can secure work placements and build partnerships with a range of employment partners to match their clients with and improve their outcomes. In parallel, this recruitment activity will generate earned income for the organisation which will ultimately increase RefuAid’s sustainability and long term impact.

Ben Smith, Head of Social Investment at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said of the deal “we are incredibly proud to be working with RefuAid. The opportunities the organisation is affording people through the Equal Access Loan Programme is life transforming and RefuAid is a great example of an investment which aligns with our new strategy and for which a tools in the box approach (social investment and grant) is valuable. Anna and Tamsyn are inspirational individuals who are doing outstanding work. We are pleased to have invested alongside Barrow Cadbury Trust, and this investment is, in turn, built on the learning created by Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Comic Relief’s investment in 2018.”

Kumar Ghosh, Social Investment Manager at Barrow Cadbury Trust commented “we are delighted to be supporting Refuaid’s Equal Access Loan Programme, alongside Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, enabling refugees to use their skills to succeed in the UK. This investment ties in with one of the key strands of the Trust’s work – migration.“

Anna Jones, Co-Founder of RefuAid added “we’re thrilled to have received the £300,000 loan from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust to support the Equal Access Loan programme. The loan will support people who’ve been forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution back into the careers they know and love with many of the individual loans being made to doctors who, as a result, are able to work within the NHS.”

Resonance, one of the UK’s leading social impact investment businesses, announces the launch of the Resonance Supported Homes Fund (‘The Fund’), which aims to provide a solution to the acute housing shortage that leaves thousands of adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems living in inappropriate housing and remaining on long waiting lists.

  • Initial investment of over £10 million in the first close of the Fund: Greater Manchester Combined Authority invests £5 million, Big Society Capital the UK’s leading social impact investor invests £5 million and social justice foundation & Barrow Cadbury Trust, invests £250,000
  • First partners are learning disability charity United Response and learning disability housing provider Reside Housing Association
  • Fund now open to further investors and for partnering with other learning disability, autism and mental health charity partners and housing associations. 

Working alongside Reside Housing Association and United Response, Resonance has co-designed a sector-wide solution for supported housing need, with initial social investment support from Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Big Society Capital and the Barrow Cadbury Trust. Read full press release.

The Young Foundation has launched a report setting out why and how the UK social investment sector should engage with traditional ‘service users’ to improve decisions which affect their lives.

The report – Nothing About Us, Without Us: Lived Experience Insight & Social Investment’ – includes evidence collected from over 40 charities, social enterprises and investors to explore the potential role of ‘lived experience insights’ across the social investment sector whilst acknowledging the challenging role social investors face as intermediary organisations.

The report argues that the growing shift towards bringing people and communities closer to the source of decision-making and power means that ‘user engagement’ is no longer a ‘nice to have’. The report further states that it isn’t a question of whether to bring the voices, experiences and skills of users into social investment – but how it can be done respectfully, well and to great effect.

The report offers social investors a series of practical examples, tools and principles to directly engage people with real experience into their design, decision-making, management and evaluation processes to help investors achieve greater impact.

Are you a professional and experienced manager with a good grasp of social investment and social sector infrastructure?  We are looking for an Assistant Manager to help deliver the Connect Fund programme across England. The Assistant Manager will be responsible for helping to develop and manage the programme, with the aim of strengthening and diversifying the social investment infrastructure sector to include new entrants, particularly beyond London. The Trust was selected by the Access Foundation for Social Investment to run this new infrastructure fund in 2016.

The Assistant Manager will be comfortable with an outward-facing promotional role. They will have a good grasp of the social investment ‘landscape’ and familiarity with social sector infrastructure as well as having experience of managing budgets or funds alongside grant and/or investment assessment and management skills. Key to our vision is the development of a collaborative community of infrastructure organisations working within a social justice framework, which means that excellent interpersonal and development skills will be needed, alongside a personal commitment to the promotion of social justice and equality.

This is an exciting time for social investment, as the sector grows and matures. We, the Access Foundation and the wider sector see the Connect Fund as having a critical role in broadening access to this form of funding.

Deadline for applications 5 p.m. Monday 12 February.  Interviews Tuesday 27 February.

Find out more about the post, about the Connect Fund and Barrow Cadbury Trust, and how to apply.

The Barrow Cadbury Trust, in partnership with Access – the Foundation for Social Investment – is launching a £1.8 million Connect Fund for social investment infrastructure in England.

The Connect Fund will provide grants and investments to build a better social investment market in England. Opening its first round of grant funding with expressions of interest today, Monday 5 June, the fund will support intermediaries and infrastructure organisations to make social investment work for a wider, more diverse range of charities and social enterprises.

Charities and social enterprises may require small amounts of affordable finance, particularly as they develop new ways to earn income. Despite having been set up for this purpose, many social investment intermediaries struggle to provide this type of finance.

The Connect Fund seeks to build a better social investment market by:

  • improving the connection of social investment to charities and social enterprises
  • better connecting social investment intermediaries through shared data and resources
  • connecting existing voluntary sector infrastructure organisations to the social investment market

Helen Cadbury, Chair of the Barrow Cadbury Trust said, “As a foundation, our Board and I have deep concerns that much of the social sector is poorly served by the current social investment offer. We look forward to seeing the Connect Fund supporting new solutions.”

The first phase of grants will look at filling the gaps in the infrastructure of the social investment market by supporting collaboration on data management, skill development, sector networks, or other resource solutions.

For example, social investment intermediaries may seek to partner on blended finance, investment readiness, due diligence, staff skills and diversity, communications or marketing.

As well as supporting the sector to advance shared initiatives, the fund will also gather data from social investment intermediaries to evidence the amount and type of investment required to build resilient and sustainable business models.

A second phase of funding will provide feasibility grants for voluntary sector infrastructure organisations to explore models of enterprise-driven solutions with the potential to connect places and sectors to social investment.

Better sharing of tools, data and resources can lower transaction costs, promote diversity and innovation, and facilitate learning and feedback to move social investment forward. This initiative can bring new voices to social investment to improve its connection to the broader needs of the social sector.

A launch event will take place on Wednesday 14 June. If anyone would like an invitation to attend, please contact the Connect Fund Manager, Jessica Brown.

The Barrow Cadbury Trust is very pleased to announce that we have been selected to run the Access Social Investment Infrastructure Fund.  Access – The Foundation for Social Investment – was set up by Big Society Capital, the Cabinet Office and the Big Lottery Fund in 2014 to provide a mix of grants and loans to develop the social investment market, making it easier for charities and social enterprises to access the capital needed to grow and increase their impact, by increasing the supply of smaller, unsecured, affordable loans and providing support to help organisations take on investment.

The Access Social Investment Infrastructure Fund is one of three major initiatives funded through Access’ Capacity Building programme, along with the Reach Fund and the Impact Management Programme.

The idea of the new Social Investment Infrastructure Fund is to strengthen social investment infrastructure both in existing social investment intermediary organisations and also in more generic and traditional infrastructure bodies.  This Fund looks like it will have a significant impact on existing infrastructure bodies such as CVSs which have not so far been confident or ‘upskilled’ enough to advise their stakeholders on social investment or give them investment readiness support.  Our hope is that it will also be used to improve tools and data capture mechanisms for use across the social investment field.

As a social justice foundation with an interest in social investment, Barrow Cadbury Trust has long had concerns that the investment products on offer do not always serve large sections of the social sector. Blended finance and better shared tools should have a transforming effect on new entrants and existing investees alike.

What next?

We will be advertising for a fund manager in the New Year so please keep an eye on this website, on our fortnightly enews, and on Twitter, for further information if you are interested.  Materials and relationships will be developed over the next few months and we will put out a call for expressions of interest later in the year.



Recent research undertaken by IVAR (Institute for Voluntary Action Research) takes a close look at the ‘social investment journey’ of 25 small charities, giving in-depth insights into their motivation, experience of the process, the challenges encountered, the support they received and factors that might improve the journey.

‘Small charities and social investment’ found that future policy and economic prospects for many small organisations and their beneficiaries are bleak and access to finance from any source is tough. The need to fund organisational survival and strategic change is great. Social investment products and processes, while improved, remain complex and complicated.

Many of the organisations interviewed for the research were stretched, busy, service delivery charities handling social investment ‘off the side of the desk’ with little or no prior knowledge and experience. Every aspect of the experience was unfamiliar, opaque and confusing, made difficult not just by inexperience but by the paucity of information and support provided by lenders.

The report found that what many charities really want is unrestricted finance in the form of grants. Failing that, a blend of grants and loans may suit some, focusing on assets and strengths during the application process rather than the usual process of focusing on deficits and gaps. Lenders interested in supporting charities to deliver on their mission need to be willing to see charity survival as a legitimate form of social impact.

IVAR proposes that “the aim of all social investments should be to leave an organisation in a stronger position, not only financially but also in relation to its ability to pursue its mission”, and identifies a number of clear ways for lenders to support this intention.



Street UK is a not-for-profit affordable finance company that provides short-term personal loans to people who would not have access to mainstream credit and would therefore have to use doorstep lenders, high-cost payday loans, pawnbrokers and money-shops.

It operates in branches across the West Midlands, and in April 2016 launched an online lending platform aimed to disrupt the online loans market by offering loans at a much lower rate than that of the established online lenders.

Street UK have launched a new Social Impact Report examining the extent to which Street UK is achieving its goal of creating greater financial inclusion. Key findings show that:

  • Financial support is not restricted to having a solely financial impact in the borrower’s life. 79% of surveyed clients agree that getting a loan from Street UK had more than just a financial impact. These include improvements to their level of stress, overall health, self-esteem and relationships with family and/or friends.
  •  An individual’s previous credit history will not always be an accurate reflection of their ability to repay future loans. 73.6% of the people Street UK lend to have a past default on their credit file, but over 90% of the loans advanced are repaid.
  • Many people are struggling to meet the everyday costs that those on higher incomes can take for granted. Street UK loans are most commonly used for home improvements, Christmas and holiday expenditure.
  • Short-term loans do not have to be expensive. They can be provided both online and on the high street for reasonable interest rates that cover the costs and associated risk of lending.
  • social sector organisations need to signpost those who are most vulnerable in society and low income households to affordable finance to avoid the risk of them falling into unmanageable volumes of debt.

The platform was developed in partnership with London-based charity St Martin’s Partnership, and is also backed by social investment loans from Barrow Cadbury Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and Big Issue Invest.













A new Report published today by the Centre for Responsible Credit for Fair for You shows the social impact on lower income households of having access to reasonable and ethical credit is huge.

The report, coming the week after the Joseph Rowntree Foundation call to solve poverty, shows that fairer credit for lower income households can have a significantly beneficial impact on people’s lives.

The independent research on behalf of the not-for-profit high cost credit challenger, Fair for You showed that as a direct result of taking a loan from Fair for You:

  • More than half (58%) of people said that they were better able to run their home – this increased to two-thirds (67%) for lone parents.
  • 45% of all respondents said they felt less anxious, stressed or depressed
  • Over half (56%) of customers with a health condition or disability said they felt less anxious, stressed or depressed
  • 61% of people with a health condition or disability said they were better able to save money as a result of a loan from Fair for You, compared with high-cost alternatives.
  • Half of all respondents (50%) said they were better able to budget and manage their money.
  • More than one-third (37%) said they were better able to pay rent or a mortgage or other household bills including rent, council tax, gas and electricity and television licence.

Report author, Damon Gibbons, said: “Our research shows that Fair for You is making a real difference to its customers’ lives. These are people who would otherwise have to use high cost credit, and they are making considerable savings by choosing Fair for You instead.  Those savings mean that they are better able to pay their rent and household bills, eat more healthily, set aside money for a rainy day, and in many cases increase their spending on their children.

The report’s authors call for local authorities, utility companies, social housing providers, and a wide range of voluntary and community agencies to support Fair for You’s challenge to the high cost lenders and to actively promote it to their service users to offer a positive, national, alternative to the high cost credit rip off that has existed in this country for far too long.”

Fair for You founder and CEO of the charity, Angela Clements said: “This report is the first social impact report to clearly show the positive impact on lower income households when we design credit products that meet their modern borrowing requirements. In essence, by creating structured credit solutions with the flexibility, visibility and support needed for customers that juggle fluctuating income, you can help lift them out of poverty.

“The fact that a £300 loan for a washing machine can do that, as well as help relieve the symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression, rather than trap them with penal debt, where they have to make choices about whether to spend on their heating or groceries because of the amount taken out of their home by the high cost credit provider, is something I find quite difficult to understand in modern Britain”.


The new Street UK online lending platform goes live today and will enter the market with a fair alternative to high cost online lenders. The lending platform designed by this not for profit organisation will offer personal loans between £100 and £500 for up to 6 months, with instant decisions on applications.


Street UK is as a Community Interest Company (CIC) and a subsidiary of Street UK Foundation which is a registered charity (Charity Registration Number 1081902) and operates on a not-for-profit basis.  Interest received from loans is used to cover costs and not to provide dividends for shareholders.


Street UK has a track record of offering low cost loans to people who wouldn’t have access to credit otherwise. “We are bringing our 16 years of ethical low cost high street loans experience to the online market” says Martin Hockly, CEO of Street UK.  “Our goal is to demonstrate that it is possible to provide access to credit online without having to charge the maximum rate allowed by the FCA (the Cap) and achieve a scale capable of disrupting the market and creating real price competition.”


To date Street UK has approved over 32,000 loans advancing more than £15.3 million, saving each customer on average £551 on a equivalent loan from a doorstep lender*, a total saving of over £11.3 million, which is effectively put back into the local economy.


Via the lending platform, a customer taking a £300 loan to repay over 3 months will be paying a total of £359.47 with Street UK, as opposed to £454.24 with a competitor**, more than halving the cost of credit. The APR is fixed at 201%, more than 1000% lower than that of other online loan providers.


Street UK has worked alongside London based charity St Martin’s Affordable Finance Development Limited to develop the new service.  It is also being backed with social investment loans from Barrow Cadbury Trust, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Big Issue Invest.


According to Rev. Philip Krinks, Chairman of St. Martin’s and a former Partner at Boston Consulting Group “Street UK is a proven provider of ethical financial products, this new on-line service will enable many more people to access responsible loans, priced fairly and combined with education about borrowing, and access to advice for those who need it. The launch of this service marks a new era in the availability of ethical, responsible loans in the UK: it is social enterprise at its innovative best.”


To help customers make an informed decision when taking a loan and avoid debt problems, clear facts and advice are available throughout the application process and on the website. Street UK’s platform will also direct customers to personalised advice and support resources in case the application is not approved.