A letter to the people we are working with in Barking and Dagenham, Gateshead, Greater Manchester, Oxford and York from the Lankelly team

We are more than five years into this work now. We’ve had to learn and unlearn a lot as an institution and as a group of people. We’ve had to let go and be shown a different way to be in the world – not a traditional foundation, something else… Sometimes we’ve felt confused by this, sometimes disorientated (and often we have been confusing). We’ve appreciated your support and also your challenge ‘Come on! It’s ok!’ and also ‘If you can’t do it, with all your freedom, security and resources, who can?’

We know now that our job is to put the resources at the service of the work. To have your back, to make the money flow in ways that enable what you need to do, to hold as much of the administrative and risk burden as we can (not that we’re always as brave as we could be here), to help you to hold the space without it being engulfed or co-opted as so often happens. We don’t always get all this right as you know. 

We are an opinionated bunch and Lankelly’s mission is deeply, personally, important to each of us. Sometimes it is hard to know when to lean in and share our views and when to butt out. However, when it all feels right, when we’re protagonists with you, in flow, cooking up ideas it is brilliant. It’s about as exciting and invigorating as a job can be.  

We’re so lucky to be working with you. We’re moved by your optimism, integrity, self-awareness, wisdom, determination and care. The way you push power away, the lack of self-interest, the continual questioning ‘who’s missing?’ ‘what do our experiences and positions prevent us from seeing?’, the intention to get out of the way. Your way of operating in the here and now, making the most of the positions you are in, and the way you keep an eye on the big vision at the same time – on equity and on love, on a united commitment to deep change. We know there are thousands of people like you, other stars we cannot see from Lankelly-central but who you are closer to and we are closer to now as a result of working with you – so much power and potential. We all know this is long term work (though it is incredibly urgent too) and we are still in the early stages really. Who knows where (and who) we will be in a year or two…

We do know we share an intention with you to facilitate the stewardship of resources like Lankelly’s by communities, both of interest and geography. We love that we’re starting to get to the big questions about how to do this, how to really let go of control and transition to something different. We’ve only dipped our toes in so far but we’re looking forward to going further. We’d love to work with others on the same path too.

We’ve learnt so much by working with you. Being a relational funder does mean actual relationships happen and we’re privileged to count many of you as friends. Like any relationship you probably wonder whether it’s all worth it sometimes!

We know that changing how funding is done and who is involved radically determines what happens as a result. We want to see how far it is possible to go.  

With love and solidarity, 

The Lankelly place team – Carrina, Cathy, Edel, Joe, Oliver and Rachael